May 14th marks an important anniversary for the Cayman Islands, 60 years since the creation of the Coat of Arms.
The Coat of Arms was ordered by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 14 May 1958. It represents the Royal Warrant assigning “Armorial Ensigns for the Cayman Islands” which became the first key symbol of national identity for Caymanians.
Earlier this year the Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, spoke about the importance of this celebration. “It is important to pause, to look back and reflect on where we’ve come from and celebrate key moments in our history,” the Premier said.
Designed in 1957, the Coat of Arms represents the true identity of the Cayman Islands, incorporating important historical and indigenous features. The Cayman Coat of Arms features three stars on a background of blue and white wavy lines, which represents the three islands on the sea. At the top of the shield features the English Lion symbolising the connection with Britain. Above the crest is a turtle symbolising the islands original name of Las Tortugas and the traditional Caymanian turtle fishing industry. The turtle is sat on top of intertwined bands of blue and white silk, representing both Caymanians rope and the traditional colours of the sea. Above the turtle is a pineapple, which represents the connection that the islands have had with Jamaica. The motto attached to the Coat of Arms is “He hath founded it upon the seas”. This is taken from Psalm 24 of the Bible, which reflects the islands’ Christian heritage and their connection with the sea.
Hon. Alden M McLaughlin said: “The granting of our Coat of Arms 60 years ago laid the foundation for what has become modern-day Cayman. Not only is the Coat of Arms a symbol of our identity, it also tells the story of our history, our culture and the key elements that make us distinctly Caymanian. We are proud of what we have achieved in the 60 years since it was granted and with how far we have come as a country over the last 360 years.”
To commemorate the anniversary Cabinet has commissioned the Celebrate Cayman team to plan and bring to life the cultural celebrations. Members of the Celebrate Cayman team are Executive Chairman Alfonso Wright, Deputy Executive Chairman Marzeta Bodden and Project Coordinator Kara Coe. All have extensive experience with hosting large events such as National Heroes Day, and TEDxSevenMileBeach.
Locally the anniversary day will be marked with the draping of the Government Admin building on Elgin Avenue followed by other government buildings across all three islands. The dressing will feature the Coat of Arms as well as the Celebrate Cayman logo.
Celebrations will officially begin in Cayman on Monday 28 May. The launch event, which is open to the public, will take place on the Glass House green and will feature local food and musical performances.
A government delegation led by the Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin is travelling to the UK to kick off celebrations. Members of the delegation include H.E. the Governor Mr. Anwar Choudhury, the Speaker of the House, Hon. McKeeva Bush, Leader of the Opposition Hon. Ezzard Miller, Councillors Barbara Conolly and Captain Eugene Ebanks, MLA for Bodden Town West Christopher Saunders, and Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose. Also travelling is Mr. Roy Tatum, Political Advisor to the Premier, Julie Hutton, Communications Manager and Martin Wilkinson, Manager of Electronic Media Unit for Government Information Service.
Alfonso Wright and Marzeta Bodden from Celebrate Cayman are already on the ground in London and they have been working closely with Eric Bush and the team in the London Office to bring these celebratory events to fruition.
The London office have organised a reception that will be held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on the day of the 60th anniversary of the Coat of Arms and guests will include Caymanian students who are studying, living in the UK.
The event will use the diamond jubilee of the Coat of Arms to highlight the close links between the Cayman Islands and Britain, a connection that goes back to 1658 when the first permanent settlers of the uninhabited Islands were thought to have arrived from Wales and Cornwall.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin
“The reception will bring the Cayman Islands to the heart of Westminster. We will showcase the very best of Cayman, from our food and culture through to our music and traditional arts.”
Throughout the one-year commemorative period, Celebrate Cayman will host monthly events and run educational campaigns focused on teaching the public about the Cayman Islands’ important historical achievements, starting with a cultural festival in late June.
To learn more about the Celebrate Cayman festivities and subscribe to the mailing list, visit the dedicated website www.celebratecayman.ky and follow on social media. The public is also encouraged to join in the celebrations by sharing their own photos on social media using the hashtag #CelebrateCayman.