taking our culture forward
William Cain CBE TH

William Cain CBE TH


The 2015 Reih Bleeaney Vanannan – Manannan’s Choice of the Year – awarded to William Cain CBE TH

Former Deemster William Cain has been awarded the Isle of Man’s top cultural honour, the Reih Bleeaney Vanannan (Manannan’s Choice of the Year) for his voluntary work for the conservation and protection of the wildlife and environment of the Isle of Man. William served as Chairman of the Manx Wildlife Trust for 36 years, having been a founder member of the Manx Nature Conservation Trust in 1973. Now the Manx Wildlife Trust, it is one of 47 Wildlife Trusts in the British Isles.

He was a major force in establishing the Manx Wildlife Act in 1990. In 2010 he was awarded The Wildlife Trusts’ Christopher Cadbury medal for the advancement of nature conservation in the British Islands.

The Manx Wildlife Trust now owns and manages twenty-two reserves covering most of the Island’s principal habitats. It operates two Visitor Centres and a wildlife gift shop and organises a regular programme of lectures and excursions. The Trust’s officers carry out research, consultancy and education work. The Trust has undertaken important research into the marine environment, in particular the ecology of cetaceans and basking sharks. The work of the Trust is only made possible by the dedication and hard work of extensive teams of volunteers.

In addition to his work for the Manx Wildlife Trust, William has served as President of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society and has carried out original research into the political and constitutional history of the Isle of Man, which he has published and shared through his teaching on the University of Liverpool’s MA in Manx Studies.

The Reih Bleeaney Vanannan is an annual award made by Culture Vannin to the person or group who, in the opinion of the panel of assessors, has made the most outstanding contribution to Manx culture. Inspired by Manxman Stephen Quayle, the trophy was designed by the late Eric Austwick and consists of the figure of the sea-god Manannan standing on a piece of Pooilvaaish marble. Although the trophy is only held for a year, each recipient receives a medal designed by Jenny Kissack and executed in silver and enamel by Celtic Gold, Peel and the sum of £500, which William will donate to the IOM Natural History and Antiquarian Society.

Chairman of Culture Vannin, Hon Phil Gawne MHK commented: ‘With DEFA’s application for UNESCO Biosphere status imminent, I can’t think of a more appropriate recipient than William Cain. His commitment to and enthusiasm for the biodiversity of the Isle of Man have played a significant part in protecting the natural richness of our Island.’ Culture Vannin is delighted to be able to make this award in the year which marks the bicentenary of the birth of noted Manx naturalist, Edward Forbes.

The panel of assessors is appointed by Culture Vannin and represents Manx cultural organisations: Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh, Yn Chruinnaght, the Isle of Man Arts Council, Culture Vannin and Manx National Heritage. Recipients are entitled to use the letters RBV after their name. They are also invited to name a Manx cultural cause which receives an additional donation from Culture Vannin to further its work. This year, William Cain has named the Manx Wildlife Trust as the recipient for this additional donation of £500.

William Cain adds: ‘I am delighted that in awarding me this trophy the work of two organisations I have helped to promote over many years is receiving public recognition. The Manx Wildlife Trust and the IOM Natural History and Antiquarian Society are both bodies of crucial influence in protecting and promoting the culture and environment of the Isle of Man. Both need the awareness, support and involvement of the general public at all times.’