Volunteer gets royal gong

| 31/12/2008

(CNS): Two of Cayman’s community stalwarts have been awarded New Year’s Honours in the 2009 list of local and royal gongs for services to the community. Eziethamae Eleanor Bodden (left) has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s honours list and Diana Cynthia Whittaker (right) has been awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour by the Governor.

Ms Bodden belongs to a long list of cultural and volunteer organizations as well as the Cayman National Choir. Born in West Bay in 1960, she is the middle child of seven and an outspoken advocate of preserving the Caymanian way of life. Having worked in Tourism and more recently as a public servant, she is still with the General Registry as the front desk manager.

She is currently a director of Generation Now and Future Sports Club and a director, volunteer and trained disaster preparedness logistics leader for the Cayman Islands Red Cross. She is also a board member for the National Museum. She is Deputy Chairperson of the Tourism Attraction Board, the Cayman National Choir, the John Gray High School HSA, and the Cayman Islands Pastors Appreciation Committee.

In addition, she serves on the National Tourism Management Policy Steering Committee, the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association Management Council, and the Cayman Islands National Curriculum Committee. She is likewise a member of the National Trust (and Secretary of the Trust’s West Bay District Committee), the National Cultural Foundation, the Cayman Islands Cancer Society and the Lift Jesus Higher Committee.

Ms Bodden is also chairperson of the West Bay Community Council, the West Bay Heritage Committee, and the National Parenting Programme’s West Bay Committee and a member of the West Bay Action Committee, as well as an active participant in the Boatswain Bay Presbyterian Church and is always ready to help with any fundraiser.

In the past she served as a board member for the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI), Immigration, the International College of the Cayman Islands (ICCI), and the CI Hotel and Condo Association. She was also a Vision 2008 team leader and a founding member of the Lighthouse School.

A mother of two daughters, when she has any time left Bodden enjoys photography. Reflecting on her country, she said that living in Cayman affords people a special kind of existence. “Not to say there aren’t any drawbacks to living in a small community, but one has unique opportunities to get to know neighbours and live in closer unity,” she added. “Keeping our Christian heritage alive remains a big focus for me, as well as family togetherness. The Lord God and my family are most important to me but I also love to help in my community.”

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Whittaker’s willingness to assist others goes back to an era when group survival depended on many helping hands. Her regional heritage also reflects Cayman’s traditional links  as her mother was Caymanian, her father,from Jamaica and she was born in the Honduran capital and raised in the coastal Bay Islands.

As a young lady, she first visited Cayman by boat in 1950 and returned here to live with an aunt four years later. She soon married, and in a move uncommon in those early years, she worked outside the home to help make ends meet. Married for 52 years to Willard Whittaker she has two children and many grand- and great-grandchildren. 

Over the decades Ms Diana has been employed in a succession of family-owned businesses. She also worked in the high school’s canteen for some years. She is best known for her work at the Church of God Chapel in Bodden Town.  Still serving as Sunday school superintendent after more than a decade and having previously taught Sunday school classes for many years, she says that her faith has grown alongside the church. 

Appreciative of being recognized with the Certificate and Badge of Honour, Whittaker said  that her community work has never been to gain accolades or rewards.

 

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  1. Shaun Ebanks says:

    Congratulations to both recipients on receiving their New Year’s Honours for 2009.

    I am particularly proud to know that Eziethamae Bodden have finally been recognized for her tireless efforts and positive contribution to these Cayman Islands. I sometimes wondered where she got all the energy and time to do so much volunteering and charitable work but I believe it all comes very natural to her, as she she really enjoys what she does.

    From one Bayer to another Bayer, Eziethamae, we in the great district of West Bay are all very proud of you having received your MBE for which you are most deserving of this honour.

    Happy New Year and God continue to bless both recipients on their continued positive strides for the betterment of our beloved Cayman Islands. 

     

    Shaun Ebanks.