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Lighthouse at Hunting Caye Renamed for Thomas Garbutt #544653
09/02/20 05:12 AM
09/02/20 05:12 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 83,488
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
On August 29, 2020, an official ceremony was held for the renaming of the lighthouse at Hunting Caye. In honour of its former operator, the lighthouse was renamed to the Thomas “Lester” Garbutt Lighthouse. The ceremony was presided over by the Ministry of National Security and the Belize Port Authority.

Thomas Garbutt or “Lester” Garbutt, as he was more commonly known, was the lighthouse keeper at Hunting Caye from 1961 up until his death in 2001. During that time, he also acted as Belize’s first line of defense given the caye’s proximity to Guatemalan territory. In 1986, then president of Guatemala Vinicio Cerezo entered Belizean waters on a yacht during his vacation. Lester Garbutt paddled his canoe up to the yacht armed only with a bolt action rifle and notified the President that he had illegally entered Belizean waters. Garbutt gave the President the order to leave immediately with which he complied.

In his remarks, Minister of National Security, Hon. Michael Peyrefitte hailed Garbutt as a patriot stating, “It puzzled me that such an intriguing story had not been told to the wider population and, indeed, this man was befitting of the highest honour bestowed upon our heroes.”

Minister Peyrefitte put forth to Cabinet the suggestion to rename the lighthouse after spending time with the Garbutt family where he learned of Lester Garbutt and the history of the lighthouse during a routine visit to the Belize Coast Guard forward operating base at Hunting Caye last month. The recommendation was unanimously approved after verifying the historical facts.

In attendance for the ceremony were officials from the Belize Coast Guard, Belize Port Authority, the Belize Fisheries Department, and family members of the late Thomas “Lester” Garbutt, including his wife and children. In addition to the lighthouse being renamed, a monument was erected with a plaque in memory of Charles Garbutt, the son of Lester Garbutt, who was also a lighthouse keeper at English Caye but tragically went missing in 1998.

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Re: Lighthouse at Hunting Caye Renamed for Thomas Garbutt [Re: Marty] #544655
09/02/20 05:18 AM
09/02/20 05:18 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 83,488
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

The Legend Of The Lighthouse Keeper

The life of a lighthouse man can be a pretty solitary one - but, in his decades on the job at Half-moon Caye, English Caye and Hunting Caye, Thomas "Lester" Garbutt did it with uncommon distinction.

And, in his honour, on Saturday the the lighthouse at Hunting Caye was renamed in his honour to the Thomas "Lester" Garbutt Lighthouse. He was the lighthouse keeper at Hunting Caye from 1961 up until his death in 2001.

But, not just the man in the tower, the Minister of National Security says he also acted as Belize's first line of defence given the caye's proximity to Guatemalan territory.

And, the story goes that in 1986, he stood up to the then president of Guatemala who had entered Belizean waters on a yacht for a vacation.

At the dedication of the monument on Saturday, the Minister of National Security told the story of the Lighthouse Man who chased away a president in the Queen's Name:

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security
"He was a lighthouse keeper, a sailor, a soldier, a brave and humble warrior, but his duties were not only restricted to that of a lighthouse. He performed the functions of a customs officer, immigration officer, police officer, sailor and soldier. He was our first line of defence against who would be adversary out here. Of the story goes and the legend is it was on one occasion that the then Guatemalan president Vinicio Cerezo visited the Sapodilla Ranges in his yacht and was anchored off the reef - sailed forth in his paddling a dorey a armed with the famous 303 action rifle and bravely informed the president that he was committing an offence against her majesty by entering Belizean waters illegally. He then proceeded to order the president to leave. The president complied and ordered his crew and they left."

And while it's a remarkable story - there's more than a tinge of sadness to it. Later Garbutt's son, Charles, also a lighthouse keeper At English Caye went missing with his wife and their three children in December of 1998. They have never been found - and there is also a plaque on the island commemorating their names:

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security
"In loving memory of the Garbutt family Charles Garbutt, Kimberly Garbutt, Marvin Garbutt, Charles Garbutt Jr., and Stephanie Garbutt - who tragically lost their lives at seas on Wednesday 16th December, 1998. This plaque will stay here along with this other plaque."

Dennis Garbutt, Family member
"We searched like hell. We looked all over English Caye, Belize City, Caye to Caye - nothing."

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