Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Mixed emotions at national awards (with CNC3 video)
Receiving the Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold) on Saturday was a special moment of pride for retired principal Michael Samuel, not because of this award, but the man pinning the medal to his chest—President Anthony Carmona. Carmona, who took office earlier this year, was a former student of Samuel’s during his tenure at Presentation College, San Fernando. It was clearly a moment of pride for Carmona as well, as he warmly greeted Samuel when he walked on stage at the Southern Academy of Performing Arts, San Fernando, to receive his medal. Carmona then broke tradition as he paused to introduce Samuel to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Chief Justice Ivor Archie, both of whom stood with their spouses on stage to greet national awardees.
Samuel, speaking with reporters after receiving his award, said he felt he did not deserve the award, but was humbled to have been recognised. “I feel very ordinary, but honoured and humbled. I was very happy that it was a ‘Pres’ man to be the one to have honoured me. It is a very special award,” Samuel said. Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim, a former schoolmate of Carmona and former student of Samuel’s, said he was pleased to see his former teacher honoured. Professor Ramesh Deosaran and Cultural Ambassador Makandal Daaga received the Order of the Republic of T&T, the nation’s highest award, on the night. Former judge Wendell Kangaloo, who died in July, some 14 months after he was involved in car crash, was awarded a Chaconia medal (Gold) for his contribution to law. His mother, Barbara Kangaloo, received the medal on his behalf. She told reporters: “l felt a bit of sadness and a bit of pride. I feel very good seeing that the powers that be decided to give him this award for all his service to the country in the short years that we had him. So I am grateful.”
This year’s ceremony also held special significance for south Trinidad, since it was the first time in its 54-year history that the national awards was held outside of Port-of-Spain. The entertainment, as well as the attire of the guests and awardees were reminiscent of the cultural fusion that is T&T. Some came dressed in traditional East Indian and African wear while others opted for tradition suits and ties and dresses. Retired public servant Sita Dalkan-Pragg was dressed in a beautiful sequinned sari, which proved problematic for Carmona when he tried to pin her Public Service Medal of Merit (Silver.) He eventually congratulated her and placed the medal in her hand. Reema Carmona, the President’s wife, showed her patriotism in her stylish floor-length red dress with side white and black pleats which complemented Carmona’s tuxedo. Persad Bissessar appeared to have experienced a slight wardrobe malfunction while on stage and had to be assisted by a female member of her security detail. The hectic Independence Day also seemed to take a toll on the PM, as she had to take her seat at several intervals during the ceremony.
The T&T Police, Fire and Prisons Bands throughly entertained guests with their enthusiastic performances. Local artiste Richard Bereaux and H2O Phlo and Friends also had the audience cheering from their seats.
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