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This is the first of a series of interviews with Former FOBA Presidents
Q: What years did you attend Fatima?
A: I transferred from Woodbrook Secondary into Fatima Form 5 in 1971, and attended until 1975.
Q: Which part of your time at Fatima brings back the fondest and/or least fond memories?
A: Clive Pantin had just assumed the helm as Principal. It was a period of discovery and self-awareness coming on the black of the “Black Power Movement” in 1070. The school was quite liberal and allowed students to express themselves, whilst maintaining a code of discipline and hard work.
Q: How long were you on the FOBA committee before you ran for President? Did you hold any positions/Offices prior to being President?
A: As soon as I left school in July ‘75, Clive invited me to join the Old Boys Association. I was fortunate to meet distinguished leaders as Derek Johnson, Reynold Mackan, Dennis Mc Sween and a lot of other old boys from the 50’s and early 60’s. Other members of the group were Principal Clive Pantin, Vice Principal Mervyn Moore and Fr. Power who kept the books and was in charge of the school’s infrastructure. I stayed for one year before attending U.W.I. I did not return to the Old Boys until the summer of 1979 for one year, before leaving for post-graduate studies in Canada.
Q: What made you decide to run for FOBA President?
A: In the early 70’s and 80’s the Old Boys Association was a simple one focused on supporting two major fundraising events: Mayfair and Bingo. In the early 80’s we held our first Carnival event at Lion’s Civic Centre––not a great financial success but an enjoyable one. Clive Pantin also introduced a Sunday-morning Wind-ball Cricket Fete Match which was more about beer- drinking and liming afterwards. Also in those days, we had an simple annual get-together for all past students in the hall where Clive would provide an update on the school’s achievements and plans for the future.
Q: What years, for how long, were you FOBA President?
A: In the 80’s there was an informal hand-over of Presidents of Old Boys and I was nominated among the group to serve for one year: 1982-83. There was no voting process as there is today.
Q: What was your vision for FOBA while you were at the helm?
A: There was no strategic vision in the mid 80’s for the Association. Trinidad faced its most severe economic contraction and we continued to supplement the school’s expense needs by the Bingo and Mayfair.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of being President of FOBA during your tenure?
A: Because of the economic downturn, there was very little increased revenue we could generate. As mentioned, our Carnival Party in 1983 incurred an operating loss! In the 80’s things were quite difficult as the country would soon come under an IMF Program in ’85, further contracting expenditure in Trinidad and Tobago.
Q: What were you most proud of during your tenure as President? How has the experience of being FOBA President influenced you?
A: I was just happy, at age 26, to learn from my more senior members about how to get things organized and executed, and the importance of volunteerism for the greater good of the school. We all bled ‘Fatima First’. Serving on the committee imbued a sense of loyalty to good causes and taught me the essence of team-work––which assisted me in the corporate world.
Q: If all your teachers were still there, who would you check first on visiting Fatima today?
A: Besides Mr. Pantin, Mr. Pouchet (our A-Level History teacher) would be the first person I would enquire about. There are so many others…Johnny Brathwaite, Mr. Moore, Mr. Brash, the late “Cisco” John. They were all brilliant teachers of young men. And of course, Fr. Herbert Charles, our Dean of Form 6 (1974–1976).
Q: Tell us about your career/family post-Fatima. Any highlights you wish to share?
A: I retired from a domestic and international banking career from Citibank in 2009 after 27 years and returned to Trinidad. I am lucky to have a very loving, supportive wife of 25 years and four wonderful children, three at university and one to go.
Q: Have you been able to maintain friendships with your classmates since school? Any class reunions?
A: I am lucky to be part of the ‘famous’ Class of ’75 and Friends, who I believe may be the most active past-students body of Fatima. We meet every 3rd Friday of the month and are focused on two major fund raisers: a Bingo (held at the College) and a Golf Tournament (held annually in October). 100% of the Bingo proceeds go towards the College, and part proceeds of the Golf Tournament go towards a charity close to our Class of ’75 & Friends.
Q: What do you feel about Fatima and FOBA today and how they’ve progressed?
A: Fatima Old Boys Association has done an excellent job over the years, and has positioned the alumni organization as a model of excellence for other Secondary Schools to follow.
Q: If you were elected President of FOBA tomorrow, what would be your first order of business?
A: Nothing radically different. I would make two recommendations:
– Build a data base including our many non-resident alumni, and devise a plan so that all of us can donate a small monthly sum which can go towards a special project defined by Fr. Gregory / management. Tie the funds to an objective.
– Re-start the Annual Get-Together in the hall (a la the Clive Pantin initiative).
Q: Any hobbies? How do you spend your free time?
A: Reading, and running.
Q: Any closing remarks?
A: Continued success…Strive on Fatima Boys.