Bodden Town Library Renamed
Published 23rd June 2016, 8:47am
The Bodden Town Library has been renamed the Vernon L. Jackson Library and Learning Centre following a ceremony honouring the man who his family describes as “an enigma...a man before his time, but also a man of his time...a gentle man, and a gentleman.” The 87-year old career civil servant, who later became Cayman’s first marriage officer after retirement, was surrounded by his wife of 65 years, Francine, his three children – Joy Basdeo, Jennifer Dilbert and Andre Jackson – and a 100-plus crowd of family, friends and well-wishers on Saturday, 18 June as the building where he spent 10 years as a Headmaster was dedicated to him. The library was once the Bodden Town All-Age School, then the Town Hall.
Mr. Jackson, a native of Bodden Town, has had a very versatile career in the civil service, holding positions in the areas of social services, education, communications, infrastructure and human resources. He has served as teacher; headmaster; Director of Education; Administration Secretary for Education and Social Services (a post that would later be called Principal Secretary, then Permanent Secretary, and now Chief Officer) where he oversaw the transition of secondary education from the Presbyterian Church to government, the introduction of comprehensive education and many other innovations in education; Principal Secretary (Personnel); Principal Secretary (Communication and Works) and Supervisor of Elections. He also oversaw the change in currency from the British Pounds, Shillings & Pence to the Jamaican Dollar in 1969.
“His passion for education and his commitment to the art of learning has inspired countless Caymanians, including myself, to expand our world views, stretch our imaginations beyond these shores and further our academic pursuits,” said the Hon. Tara Rivers Minister responsible for Library Services, who officially declared the library renamed. “Through exposure to books, reading programmes and other learning activities, libraries provide a platform to expand our knowledge and world views as well. For this reason, I think it is most fitting that the decision was made to recognise Mr. Vernon’s contributions by way of naming the Bodden Town Library after him.”
The Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Bodden Town MLAs Hon. Osbourne Bodden, Minister for Community Affairs, Youth & Sports, Hon. Wayne Panton, Minister for Financial Services, Commerce & Environment and Hon. Anthony Eden, Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly along with former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Hon. Mary Lawrence were on hand to witness the celebration.
“Mr. Vernon Jackson helped shape the community of Bodden Town through the lessons he taught his students...It is truly fitting that this building where he taught so many lessons, and shared so many tales, is now a library where others in the district can now begin their own literary adventures,” said Minister Bodden in his remarks. “I and my fellow Bodden Town representatives, and the rest of the community in Bodden Town thank you for all you have done for this district and for Cayman.”
Mr. Jackson was also deeply involved in the Webster Memorial Church, where he was Superintendent of Sunday School, a leader in Christian Endeavour and an Elder and Lay-preacher, and recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman.
Mr. Jackson spoke briefly and reflected on his childhood in Bodden Town and his love of reading and learning which led to his career in teaching and education administration. He thanked his family for their support, and the Government for bestowing the honour on him as well as the attendees for coming out to celebrate with him.
His daughter, Joy Basdeo, who read her father’s biography, said that when asked what he had to say about the occasion, Mr. Jackson replied, “The greatest privilege in life is to have been of service to your fellow man and to have earned their respect”.
The Bodden Town Library and Learning Centre is now fitted with a plaque that says “Dedicated to Mr. Vernon L. Jackson, OBE, JP for his outstanding service to education and the Cayman Islands Government, his devotion to the Christian faith and his contributions to the Bodden Town Community and the People of the Cayman Islands.”