Dr Lee heads long list of royal gongs

| 12/10/2020 | 61 Comments
Cayman News Service
CMO Dr John Lee, OBE

(CNS): Dr John Lee, the chief medical officer, has been awarded an OBE for his outstanding contribution to health services in the Cayman Islands, heading a long list of various gongs and accolades for healthcare workers, public servants and volunteers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside Dr Lee’s top royal award, Angela Marie Tanzillo-Swarts, the hospital’s forensic DNA specialist, received an MBE for her work on testing.

Dr Lee said that Cayman’s unique strengths of integrity, clear thinking, indomitable spirit, resilience and perseverance have allowed us all to successfully face the challenge of the COVID disease. “I thank all of those in government and healthcare for their unswerving support and those closest to me for holding me through the darkest times,” he added.

One of these people was Tanzillo-Swarts, who has been fundamental in the strategy of test and trace, with her outstanding contribution to Cayman’s capacity and ability to carry out wide-scale testing. “It is very gratifying to have been able to be of service. I am honoured and humbled by the recognition,” she said.

The Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours list was delayed from June to include people, such as healthcare workers, in the UK and around the Commonwealth who have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19.

Cayman’s long list of recipients of the Certificate and Badge of Honour was “in recognition of their exceptional service to our community during this pandemic. This is a unique and special one-off set of awards to reflect the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves,” according to Governor Martyn Roper.

“While we did not experience serious health impacts like many other countries, these awards from Her Majesty The Queen, despite stiff competition, underline that the success Cayman has had in controlling the virus should be recognised,” he said as the list was unveiled.

The governor noted that recent events at the Red Bay Primary indicate that Cayman is not “out of the woods yet” when it comes to “this complicated and dangerous virus. But the awards today can give us confidence that we have so many people with ability, skills, effectiveness and dedication to deal with whatever arises.”

Offering his congratulations to Dr Lee and Tanzillo-Swarts on their top gongs, the governor said Dr Lee played a unique and pivotal role, in the full glare of press and public attention, in our response to this crisis.

“He helped steer our Islands to safety during a highly difficult period in our Islands’ history,” Roper said. “He carried out his duties calmly and confidently, providing outstanding public health advice, as confirmed to me by Public Health England. He was a reassuring presence for the wider community.”

The governor also noted the unique and critical role played by the HSA’s DNA expert. “Ms Tanzillo-Swarts did more than anyone to enable Cayman to develop a reliable testing capability and capacity, which made such a crucial contribution to the success we had in responding to the virus. For our Islands to have conducted over 40,000 tests is an outstanding achievement,” Roper added. 

He congratulate all of those in the long list of people who received the Certificate and Badge of Honour for their commitment, dedication, and sense of duty in supporting people across our entire community.

“Our Islands are blessed to have people of this quality and standing who are prepared to work so hard for our community. They have all demonstrated CaymanKind at its very best. We will hold an awards event, in the next couple of months, at Government House for those who got awards to receive their certificates and badges with family and friends,” Roper stated.

See the full list of awardees below:

Award of Certificate and Badge of Honour, for meritorious services rendered during the COVID Pandemic and for services rendered to the Government and people of the Cayman Islands:

  • Chief Officer Gloria Mcfield Nixon – Portfolio of the Civil Service
  • Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose – Cabinet Office
  • Chief Officer Eric Bush – Ministry of International Trade Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs
  • Chief Officer Wesley Howell – Ministry of Employment and Border Control
  • Acting Chief Officer Nellie Pouchie – Ministry of Health Environment Culture and Housing
  • Chief Officer Teresa Echenique – Ministry of Community Affairs

For meritorious service rendered during the COVID Pandemic:

  • Ms Jennifer West – Meals on Wheels
  • Mr Rob Imparato – Meals on Wheels
  • Mr Woody Foster – Managing Director, Fosters 
  • Mrs Marie Eden – Cayman Food Bank
  • Mr Phillip Hyre – Cayman Food Bank
  • Chief Executive Officer Wil Pineau – Chamber of Commence
  • Ms Tara Nielsen – Acts of Random Kindness
  • Dr Binoy Chattuparambil – Clinical Director, Health City
  • Commissioner of Police Mr Derek Byrne – Royal Cayman Islands Police Service
  • Director Hazard Management Danielle Coleman 
  • Director of the Department of Children and Family Services Paulinda Mendoza-Williams
  • Chief Information Officer Suzette Ebanks
  • First Legislative Counsel Cheryl Neblett
  • Commandant Robert Scotland – Coast Guard
  • Commandant Bobeth O’Garro – Cayman Islands Cadet Corps
  • Deputy Head of the Governor’s Office – Maria Leng
  • Policy Adviser, Governor’s Office – Mrs Simone Eade
  • Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood – Heath Services Authority
  • Chief Financial Officer Dawn Cummings – Health services Authority
  • Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez – Public Health/Health Services Authority
  • Dr Hazel Brown – Chief Nursing Officer, Heath Services Authority
  • Acting Director Joseph Woods – Port Authority
  • Mr Chris Duggan – VP Dart and Special Constable RCIPS
  • Deputy Chief Officer Joan West Dacres – Community Affairs
  • Deputy Chief Officer Andrea Fa’amoe – Ministry of International Trade Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs
  • Deputy Chief Officer Kathryn Dinspel-Powell – Ministry of Financial Services and Home Affairs
  • Director Graeme Jackson – Portfolio of the Civil Service
  • Mr Jon Japal – Department of Planning
  • Superintendent Adrian Seales – Royal Cayman Islands Police Service
  • Ms Claudia Brady – Department of Commerce and Investment
  • Ms Tristaca Ebanks – Ministry of International Trade Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs
  • Ms Kristy Watler – Cabinet Office
  • Acting Deputy Chief Officer Lauren Knight – Portfolio of the Civil Service
  • Dr Tasha Ebanks Garcia – Office of the Deputy Governor
  • Ms Ventisha Conolly- Ministry of Tourism, District Administration and Transport
  • Mr Roy Tatum – Office of the Honourable Premier
  • Ms Laura Watler – Portfolio of the Civil Service
  • Director Winston Sutherland – Portfolio of the Civil Service
  • Ms Delia Hydes – Portfolio of the Civil Service
  • Ms Lauren Knight – Portfolio of the Civil Service

For meritorious services rendered to the Financial Services industry:

  • Chief Officer Dr Dax Basdeo – Ministry of Financial Services and Home Affairs
  • Director Michelle Bahadur – Ministry of Financial Services and Home Affairs

For meritorious services to Public Health and to the people of the Cayman Islands:

  • Director Richard Simms – Department of Environmental Health

For achievements in leadership and innovation within the Department of Commerce and Investment

  • Director Ryan Rajkumarsingh – Department of Commerce and Investment

For meritorious service to the Commissions supporting democracy and services rendered during the COVID pandemic:

  • Commissions Secretariat Deborah Bodden – Portfolio of the Civil Service

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Comments (61)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    To see this type of thing going on in the middle of a pandemic is grotesque. The level of self-aggrandizement coming from what I believe to be a largely dysfunctional and incompetent government is something to behold.

  2. Anonymous says:

    ……AND the next HONOUREE IS

    Premier of the Cayman Islands.
    For meritorious service to help the UK promote the LGBT Law.

    Take a bow Sir.

    Unna neva saw dat one comming?

  3. Anonymous says:

    If I did not know better I would think that 2021 was an election year.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about the medical supply companies that were delivering PPE and pharmaceuticals throughout the height of the pandemic?

    This list is basically the government congratulating itself.

    • Anonymous says:

      It starts with feeding people. Everything else is secondary.
      ..someone who orders, ships, loads, unloads, trucks, stocks shelves and sells it (cooks and delivers) while the rest are safely in lockdown, deserves an award 🥇

  5. Anonymous says:

    OBE has long been recognized as “Other B*gger’s Efforts”. In other words, the glory richly deserved by those who actually did the work, attained the achievements and made personal sacrifices, is hijacked by those with big egos who get themselves in front of the media as often as possible!

    In my opinion the OBE is given away so easily and with so little discretion these days that it has become worthless and engenders little or no respect. What a pity.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Governor has some explaining to do. I cannot for the life of me figure out why he thought so many civil servants were deserving of these awards. Everyone of these civil servants had no cut in pay unlike most of us that lost our jobs and many of them were treated with the highest of care during the lockdown not to mention the amenities they received.

    There are/were so many people out there more deserving and working their butts off even when they didn’t have income coming in. I could start a list simply by starting with Vernie Coe and Craig Merren but there are a lot more true Caymanians that did what they had to do to ensure that us Caymanians survived the Pandemic..Dr. Lee as deserving as he is would have been nothing more than a failure if these two gentlemen had not secured those test kits. If they didn’t do what they did we would be waiting on the UK to send us a few contaminated ones from their leftovers. The Governor was more interested in working on his regiment and his “rule of law.” All he could provide us with was soldiers with guns on an aircraft with civilians and some used ventilators from the States that Trump ceased.

    It makes me realize now that the Governor in his lofty position is ensuring that he takes care of those around him to keep up the farce that he is doing things for Caymanians. I for one don’t trust him, never had, never will. These guys come and go and everybody thinks that because they come from the Uk that they are better than God. This one even uses social media to woo and convince that what he is doing for us is the best thing for us whether we believe it or not.

    Be careful of sheep in wolves clothing people..

    • Anonymous says:

      Alric Lindsay has been non stop with providing and delivering meals as well. Guess he isn’t part of the special club to be recognized. Keep it up Al, much respect for your efforts

    • Anonymous says:

      This is such good news. Finally Caymanians are being recognised in large numbers. I guess that why there are so many negative comments.

      Folks all of you were locked in your houses afraid to even go to the super market. These civil servants were at work every day. They kept you safe. How ungrateful is that.

      While the Coes put CIG in touch with the Koreans that was a few days work. What they did can’t compare to what our brave civil servants did.

      Get a life if you can’t see the good in this. Today you can safely venture out to supermarket because of the sweat and bravery of civil servants.

      Shame on all of you for being so jealous.

      • Anonymous says:

        Those civil servants were allowed to run around the island freely flashing their ‘essential’ letters while the rest of us were locked in our homes. They did not experience any reduction in their standards of living at all while the rest took pay cuts or lost their jobs or businesses. The senior ones had huge teams helping them. This tale of bureaucratic heroism just doesn’t work, stop trying.

    • Anonymous says:

      While we suffered under their oppressive lock downs and suffered grave financial stress they have enriched themselves with accolades.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have not read so many rubbish comments in my life. I can guarantee not one civil servant got this award for Just doing their jobs. Dealing with A pandemic, manning isolation facilities, protecting the private sector from COVID 19. Is not in anyone’s job description. Not to mention dealing with COVID-19 positive patients who the private sector are so afraid of.

      I am so proud of the performance of the entire public sector. They are the reason Cayman is leading the world and setting the standard for keeping its population safe.

      Trust me you would be beating up on the civil servants if the hospital was full of COVID 19 patients. But you are too small minded to give credit where it is due.

      A huge thanks to the Chamber and the other non profits who really stood with the public sector and provided assistance to the private sector workers who were kicked out of their jobs.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman has missed the pandemic.

      • Anonymous says:

        I beg to differ, we have a hurricane plan and plans for pandemics, in other words disaster plans. Pandemics are not new. Civil servants have roles to play in any of these scenarios. How do you think the police have such powers under public health laws?

  7. just saying.... says:

    While there can be no doubt that some, maybe all, deserved their award for work that may or may not have been behind closed doors. It’s a travesty that no front line HSA, Police or CBC staff has been included here. An opportunity missed to actually recognize the hazards and stressful situations these occupations (and there families) face day in and day out – not just in times of pandemics and the like.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There is no British Empire. These OBE awards are a symbol of a fallen Empire including slavery.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nah, but slavery still does exist in Cayman. Now it’s usually Caymanians enslaving cheap overseas labour. But that’s normal so it’s OK.

      This is more like carrots to keep the rabbits on the treadmill happy.

    • Say it like it is says:

      I don’t see any of you “colonists” declining these awards.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s just plain ignorant. Slavery was abolished in 1833 and the OBE created in 1917 to recognise service to charity, welfare and public service. The two things couldn’t be less connected.

      • Anonymous says:

        Emphasis on ’empire’ not dates

      • Anonymous says:

        On the contrary, the E in OBE is for Empire. An Empire that begun in the 1600s and fizzled out in the 1960s. So how why on earth are medals issued in this day and age referring to an Empire that spanned the era of slavery and colonisation?

        • Anonymous says:

          The award is to recognise public service, obviously nothing to do with the empire any more and never anything to do with slavery.

          • Anonymous says:

            Erm order of the British EMPIRE means it has everything to do with the Empire. If the award is for public service then perhaps it should be called that?

            • Anonymous says:

              “Everything to do with the Empire”. That doesn’t exist. You see the problem right?
              Or maybe just a historic name, even then, from a time when slavery had long since been abolished. Feel free to give yours back but you’ve no right to demand others do so just because you’re upset by the name.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Only the awards given to Dr. Lee and Ms. Tanzillo-Swarts can be classified as “royal gongs”. I should add they were most deserved. However the other hand-outs are “local” awards. A few were deserving, many were not, and a lot were overlooked. Too many were civil servants who were only doing their jobs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true. The full name is the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour:

      “The Badge of Honour, accompanied by the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour, is a civil award previously presented by the governments of British colonies and protectorates, and now by British Overseas Territories, to recognise loyal and valuable service by native chiefs and other non-European dignitaries. The Badge of Honour and Certificate continue to be awarded for meritorious services to the local community of an exceptional or outstanding nature in Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and St Helena.”

      It sits in the UK Order of Precedence, in terms of order of wear, below the Queen’s Medal for Chiefs (awarded to tribal chiefs throughout the British Empire and now defunct), and above any medals or stars awarded for military service in specific campaigns or wars.

      Now that we’ve cleared that up, please tell me what was “exceptional or outstanding” about what most of these recipients did, anyone? Their job descriptions don’t say ‘if events cause your job to become more difficult temporarily and you mostly pull it off, you’re a hero’. My personal theory is they were all so impressed with each other actually doing their jobs for the most part that they confused this with exceptional and outstanding. It was in fact merely ‘better than expected’.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Cert. Hon. now means nothing. It is the new JP. My apologies to all those deserving who were honoured, which is only a few of the people on the list. This should have been dealt with by making a Heroes Day ‘COVID Heroes’ or having an event at Government House to award special certificates just for this. A Cert. Hon. is for a lifetime of distinguished, understated service. Most of those given one in this raft are in the middle of their careers. It is wrong, wrong, wrong, and should not have been done. The Governor has proven himself truly clueless in approving all of these. If you want to give out 50 local awards at once, make them up first. The standing ones that are given under essentially Royal authority to mark exceptional contributions should never be awarded en masse. That is why the Royals and the military create medals, badges and so on for each war zone served in, or campaign served on, or each crisis contributed to, and those are then handed out liberally to recognise a collective effort. Our honours system has been permanently stripped of its meaning until it is reformed. And don’t get me started on the Order of the Cayman Islands, which is its own sacrilegious abomination. That one the Governor won’t touch – instead of being Chancellor of it himself, the Premier is, robbing the Order of any honour that it might bestow. Politicians are deemed not to have any honour; that’s why we have constitutional monarchies, so we have someone to look up to who can tell us we have done an exceptional job being ordinary people. That’s why even most republics have apolitical presidents, so that someone – even if just one person – is empowered not to care who you are or whether you’re in power or not, but to exercise a few powers of the state impartially and in accordance with the highest ideals.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t the Honourable Dwayne Seymour appear on the list? I’d have thought maybe a contribution to comedy award of some type, for his breakdown on live TV sobbing like baby Jesus, comments about the Mary and the donkey, not knowing what garden waste was, the audacity of him giving us healthy nutrition advice plus his comical performance during the Partnership Law debate – should have got him a life time achievement to comedy award surely?

    • Anonymous says:

      But Dwayne embarrassed the Premier over gay civil union, so no pretty riband for him. Eric Bush now, a different matter. God only knows what we would have done without him, cough, cough. And don’t get me started on the Commandant of the cadet Corps.

  12. Anonymous says:

    never knew a place that enjoys slapping itself on the back so much…..
    just another day in wonderland

    • Anonymous says:

      yep just like when caymanians say cayman airways has the best pilots in the world!…..
      remember… self praise is no praise.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Tara Nielsen at ARK – very well deserved.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The accountability wouldn’t have rested with them if things had gone badly awry here, though. The guy must have been operating under tremendous pressure for a sustained period, and played a huge part in obtaining a positive result (pardon the pun) from a public health perspective. Fair play, I say.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Elites rewarding elites with elitist prizes and titles.

    As Lennon said: “A working class hero is something to be”

  16. Anonymous says:

    If someone is put in a unique position to do a job, they shouldn’t be rewarded with an OBE for his outstanding contribution to that job.

    These rewards to go to members of society who, irrespective of their positions, rose to the occasion and contributed to society in some way above and beyond what was called for.

    • Anonymous says:

      2.27pm Like Mrs Olive Miller who dedicated herself to the community for over 74 years and only reeived an OBE in the last 2 years of that period.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The most outrageous thing about this list is that the Most Honourable and Gracious Speaker, the Perpetually Honourable Dr Professor Lord McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, OMG, LOL and ROFL was not mentioned. I trust the Governor will address this monstrous injustice at the earliest opportunity.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wil Pineau?

  19. Anonymous says:

    What a load of tosh. The monarchy are the biggest scroungers/drains on society, live of tax payers money and wouldn’t spit on those same tax payers if they were on fire. Can you just imagine the Queen trying to get into a car herself, she’d be stood there for hours trying to figure out what the door handle was for. Great work behind the scenes by all those mentioned in the article, but I’d have zero pride in receiving any mention or awards from the monarchy. Sell your OBE on ecayTrade Dr Lee.

    • Soldier Crab says:

      You are obviously either too young or uneducated to know: The Queen drove and maintained ambulances during the 2nd World War so she could certainly tell you a thing or two about door handles.

  20. George345@hotmail.com says:

    Besides Dr Lee and a few others I find it very discerning that others are being GIVEN awards for doing their damn job. Most, if not ALL, sat in a locked room, with A/C, catering and every whim and wish being catered to.

    The ONLY people that deserve these awards are the boots on the ground, the soldiers who worked everyday dealing with the general public, thus putting their own lives, and the lives of their families at risk. EVERYDAY. The only thing they got was a thank you and “maybe” 100 dollars, and that also is inclusive of these same award winners that work for Govt.

    Those that got these awards should decline and say that the soldiers should be awarded. Thats the moral and ethical thing to do. These persons make over 60,000.00, up too 100,000.00ci, because they are paid to do exactly what they were doing. 

    I wonder how many are connected to the Lodge, Lions, Leos, Rotary ect…. would be an interesting FOI. Someone is going to do it.

    The only thing this bunch of awarded awards has done is drop the stature of these awards in most peoples eyes.

    No for the response from those who got the awards, que please…….

  21. Anonymous says:

    I am very pleased and proud of the manner in which Cayman handled the Covid-19 crisis. A lot of people went above and beyond to keep these islands safe with Dr. Lee being at the top of the list for his calm and professional manner. However, I seriously take offence to the fact that most of the people awarded these special gongs seems to be civil servants. Why are they being rewarded for what they are paid handsomely to do in the first place. Why not award those Caymanian individuals who used their own money and time to help buy masks to distribute for free for example. Sadly a lot of people have gone unrecognized because they are not in the right fraternity. Too many unsung heroes being ignored and overlooked. MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT PEOPLE!!!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    what happened to Craig Merren, Vernie Coe and Mrs Olde?? werent they instrumental in securing the same test that no one else could and the ones that got Dr Lee his OBE???

    • Anonymous says:

      They don’t seem to be in the same back scratcher’s club☹️

    • Anonymous says:

      Craig Merren and Vernie Coe are neither senior civil servants, nor English, so they get no awards. Mrs. Olde already has an OBE for occasionally giving away tiny fractions of the fortune she inherited. Hence, none of them were eligible.

  23. JTB says:

    Did anyone in Government NOT get an award?

    It’s nice to see Meals on Wheels and ARK recognised, but the rest?

    • Anonymous says:

      The criterion seems to be your proximity to the Premier or your physical presence in the NEOCC ivory tower. if you shared the bunker, you get a gong. Even if you were just providing those coffee cups they always had on the top table but which they never drank from.

  24. anon says:

    If Chief Officer Eric Bush was given overall responsibility for travel arrangements, with the current farcical situation with TravelCayman maybe he should return his award

  25. Anonymous says:

    I would just like to comment on the Food Banks and grocery distribution during the pandemic. For years, Kirk Market have been supporting the Lions Club of Grand Cayman community food drive. Without fanfare, through many periods of want and need, Lions have been collecting items for their pantry directly from Kirks and using additional funds raised in drives and raffles to complement resources with grocery gift cards and other purchases. Lions serve the community unheralded and will continue to do so. The objective of this electronic missive is to highlight the direct delivery service from Kirk Market during these Covid times. Without their service, Lions could not have prepared food parcels for churches, NAU, community groups and district elderly.
    Thank you to the warehouse staff and management of Kirk Market for your unrecognised, unacknowledged service to the community via LCGC.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Do not forget the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, the founder of Meals on Wheels and Cayman’s favourite son who delivered throughout the crisis, one Derek Haines. Having been awarded a MBE he carries on regardless. He seeks no reward, just the satisfaction of helping others.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Mediocrity and ineptitude on show again. These people get rewarded for doing their jobs every month. It’s commonly called a paycheck.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Some good old back slapping going on here. Did the fearless leader of the post office get a mention?

  28. Ironymous says:

    SMH. Just about every dept head or CO gets a participation award for overseeing a period when most of the Civil Service did little to nothing.

    Martyn must be saving Alden’s knighthood for the New Year.

    Good on Doc Lee though. One bright spot in the miasma that is CIG.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to all recipients. Nonetheless, as to the Civil Servants recipients, Cayman seems like one of the few locations in the Commonwealth where civil servants are nominated for and receive Royal and local awards for simply doing their jobs.


  30. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Hazel Brown huh……
    How about every employee at the ambulance service having to have endured going out during this pandemic. Real front line workers, not just sitting in an office.
    More like the Gong show than anything..

    • Anonymous says:

      Hazel is actually pretty hands on and supervises the nurses at the HSA, if you want to talk about a “huh?” how about the Chief Officer in the Ministry of Health? I Never heard from/about her once except when the Ministry screwed up the health insurance assessment. You would have expected her to have been playing a more pivotal role in directing resources and communicating with the public as the Chief Officer responsible, but crickets. I agree with the previous poster, no honor in being awarded with this bunch.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Congrats Dr. Lee

    I down mean to sound negative but why the hell are all of these civil servants getting these awards just for doing their jobs. I realize this is and election year, but geesh..I also understand now that the GTW MLA is now asking the Governor to give Alden the title of “Sir.” I love alden to death but I think this is just overkill.

    I would have rather seen people like Vernie Coe, Craig Merren, Mrs. Olde and even Ken Dart himself for ensuring that we had the means of doing testing and getting out ahead of this pandemic unlike most of the world. Without them Dr. Lee and and all of the rest of the civil servants would have had a very tough time.

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