Giselle Laronde-West, former Miss World of 1986, won the gold medal in her kata category of female adults 35 years and over when the Shotokan karate international federation of Trinidad and Tobago
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Shandell finds Anil’s soft spot
To John Public he is Anil Roberts, Minister of Sport, often perceived as rough, loud and outgoing. But to his new bride Shandell Roberts, formerly Nicholls, he is a soft, compassionate man with whom she fell in love. The deep affection she holds for Roberts was evident, as a smile erupted any and every time his name was mentioned.
Questions such as how did you two meet? What attracted you to him? brought a slight blush to her face. There was familiarity and ease when the 21-year-old spoke of her 44-year-old husband, of just some weeks, with the Sunday Guardian on Friday at the Ministry of Sport, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain.
Many are puzzled about when and how the two met. “That is the question of the year,” she said laughing, when asked how she and Roberts met. For some it seemed like a whirlwind romance. Shandell said it was like any other two people meeting and falling in love. Roberts, she said, was always a friend of the family. But on a fated evening in November 2012 the two met at a buddy walk for special needs children. Shandell’s brother, Daniel is down syndrome.
“Although he has been a family friend for a long time...he knows my mother...he mainly interacted with my mother and other family members,” she said. Shandell’s mother, Renata Teixeira, introduced Roberts to her and immediately recognised the attraction between the two. “From that day, the meeting at the buddy walk, that was it. It was all downhill from here.”
She said they spoke for the entire walk around King George V Park, St Clair. “We spoke for the entire walk, laughing. What really grabbed my attention, he was funny, he made me laugh. Talking to him was comfortable. We stood up next to each other. It was refreshing to meet him and talk to him,” she said. Two days after, Shandell said, Roberts got her phone number from her mother. He called her mother, saying he wanted to find out how Shandell was doing.
Roberts, she said, made her feel very special during the courting process, sending roses almost every day, lunch dates, and being very supportive.
‘Your privacy is lost’
One-year-and-a-month later, the two were engaged. Roberts, she said, popped the question during a cricket match in St Lucia during the July/August vacation period last year. So it was little surprise that the couple’s December 31 wedding took place at the very spot he asked her to marry him. For Shandell, so far, married life has been bliss although she has been contending with the public demands on her prominent husband.
She described being in the limelight as bitter-sweet. “I have never been one to like the spotlight, so it has been an interesting transition. I am very private and quite, and people who know Anil says he is quite the opposite...I was never a people person. “Being with Anil broadened my horizon dealing with people. There are positives but also negatives.
“Your privacy is also lost now. It is a little hard transitioning to that, but at the end of the day, when I am at home with Anil, it is happy and worth it. When you think about the times and love that we have for each other...” she said. Although some think the age difference might hinder the couple, Anil being 23 years older than his wife, Shandell said it was a matter of maturity and that once couples were mature it could work.
Shandell advised newly weds to never go to bed angry, have patience, and have a strong support system of family and friends. The University of the West Indies open campus student hopes to become a teacher soon.