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Government officials and the children of former Cayman Islands Administrator Sir John A. Cumber, unveil the new sign at the school's entrance.

Published 16th September 2010, 5:54pm

Giving acclaim where it's due, the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment honoured both the late Sir John Cumber and the late Shirley Kidd during a recent ceremony at John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay.

Mr. Cumber's title Sir, an honour he received in 1981 when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the Commonwealth, was added to the John A. Cumber Primary School name. Officially re-branded, it is now the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School.

The school's hall now carries Mrs. Kidd's name and is designated the Shirley Kidd Memorial Hall.

"It's always a pleasure to recognise persons who have made outstanding contributions to the community," Premier, the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, said during his congratulatory remarks.

"In both instances acknowledgment was long overdue. It's difficult to put a value on their social and economic contributions to the development of this country."

Education Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, commented, "I doubt Mr. Cumber could have ever imagined what would have become of the small school that was named after him.

The number of students who pass through this school continues to grow. I couldn't have dreamt as a student that we would have this massive hall or that the school would develop this way. Over the years we've seen many doctors, lawyers, accountants, Olympic athletes and other professionals get their start right here."

Appointed Administrator of the Cayman Islands in 1964, John A. Cumber secured funds from the UK to construct purpose-built primary schools across the Islands after noting that children were being taught in town halls. In 1966, the West Bay school was the first to be completed.

Then, prior to his departure in 1968, West Bay district leaders named the school in his honour.

Mrs. Shirley Kidd, who moved to Cayman in 1972, is honoured for giving 33 years of service to the education system. She spent 23 of those years at the West Bay primary school, first as a teacher, then as vice-principal and principal.

In appreciation for the honours accorded to their father and grandfather, the Cumber family committed to an annual $1,000 sponsorship of the school's essay competition, over the next decade.

In turn, Mrs. Kidd's daughters, Wayedene Kidd-Slydell and Alecia Kidd-Francis, presented a framed picture of their mother to Principal Joseph Wallace.

Also attending the ceremony were West Bay Legislative Assembly Members, Cline Glidden Jr. and Capt. Eugene Ebanks; Education Ministry Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues; Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler; PTA President Beathany Powery and all teachers and students of the Sir John A. Cumber School.

Biography: Sir John A. Cumber (1920-1991)

As told, by his son, Mr. Mervyn Cumber:

John Cumber was born in Richmond, England on the 30th September 1920, and after schooling, was immediately called up to join the army with the commencement of the Second World War. He served with the Indian Army in the Burma campaign and rose to the rank of major.

After the war in 1947 he joined the British Colonial Service, and was posted to Kenya where he worked as a District Commissioner until the country's Independence in 1963. In 1964 he was appointed Administrator of the Cayman Islands (now The Governor) and he took up his appointment in February of that year.

It was evident on his tour of the Islands that primary education was sadly lacking, and in all districts on Grand Cayman except George Town, children were being taught in the Town Halls. I was with my father when he visited West Bay, and was amazed to see four classes being taught at the same time in each corner of the Town Hall!

In 1965 with good contacts in Britain, funds were made available for the construction, Island wide, of new purpose built Primary Schools, and West Bay was the first one completed in 1966. In 1968 his term as Administrator ended, and it was at this time at a farewell function in West Bay that he was very much humbled when the District Leaders named the Primary School in his memory.

Shortly after leaving Cayman he served one year in Anguilla as Commissioner, before joining Britain's largest charity "Save The Children Fund" and starting as a field officer in the Sudan he rose to become the Director General of the organization. In 1981 he was knighted by the Queen for services to the Commonwealth.

He retired in 1985 to a cottage in the West of England and visited Cayman every year to visit family and friends. He passed away in 1991. Posthumously, the powers that be in Cayman added his name the Heroes Wall in front of the Court House and it would have made him proud.

The decision by the Minister of Education and his Department to rename the School to reflect the last title he received is very flattering and he would have been honoured to know this. We as a family are also honoured and thank the Minister and people of West Bay for their kind consideration.

In Memory of the late Shirley Veronica Kidd (1948-2004)

Shirley Veronica Kidd was born in Montego Bay Jamaica. She was the daughter of Denzel and Clarice Bell and the third of seven children. She attended John's Hall Primary School, Montego Bay High School and later Shortwood Teacher's College where she obtained her certification as a teacher. She later received a Bachelor's degree in Counseling.

In 1972 Ms. Shirley Kidd migrated to Cayman Brac where she taught for 1 year and was then transferred to Grand Cayman, where she continued her career for the next 32 years. During her tenure she served diligently at the John A. Cumber Primary School as a teacher for 23 years. She was promoted to Vice Principal and in the year 1996 rose to the rank of Principal.

Ms. Kidd has had the privilege of shaping the minds of our nation's children many of whom have excelled in various professions ranging from Politics to Banking. Ms. Kidd was an extremely passionate woman who took great pride in her work; she was always the first to open the school and the last to leave. Her warm and gentle manner was not only endearing to her students but also to her staff and the John Cumber community. She maintained a good rapport with her staff and under her leadership John A. Cumber was more than just a school, it was a family. This lady of great stature had a huge impact on her country.

Shirley was married to the late Lynroy Kidd a union that produced two beautiful daughters Wayedene and Alecia. Shirley was also a very active member of the Savannah Seventh Day Adventist Church, where she held various offices. May her memory continue to live on.