In 1969, seven years after T&T gained its independence from Great Britain, a national awards ceremony was held for the first time to honour citizens who had excelled in their fields. Receiving the Trinity Cross that year were Sir Ellis Clarke for his role in drafting the Constitution; Sir Hugh Wooding for his service to the judiciary; Rudranath Capildeo in the field of science; Count Finbar Ryan for his contribution to religion and former Governor-General of T&T Sir Solomon Hochoy, ex officio.
The following year, trade unionist Tubal Uriah "Buzz" Butler; George Richards, father of President of T&T George Maxwell Richards, and diplomat Donald Granado were in receipt of the country's highest award in the sphere of public service. Some 40 years later, the Trinity Cross would be no more and deserving citizens would receive The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2008, Professor Brian Copeland, steelpan innovators Bertram "Bertie" Lloyd Marshall and Anthony Williams were the first to be presented with The Order. The last person to receive the Trinity Cross was Edwin Wilberforce Carrington for national/regional development in 2005. From 1969 to 2007, there were 68 recipients of the Trinity Cross and from 2007 to 2011, there were 12 recipients of The Order.
In 1975, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2007, no person or group received the highest national award. One year after the 1990 attempted coup, the T&T Regiment and the T&T Police Service were presented with the highest honour while in 2002, the country's first prime minister Dr Eric Williams received the Trinity Cross posthumously for outstanding and distinguished service to Trinidad and Tobago and in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the independence.
Past presidents Noor Hassanali and Arthur NR Robinson have received the highest award as well as current president George Maxwell Richards. Distinguished citizens such as Aubrey Adams, Samuel Selvon, Molly Ahye, Randolph Burroughs, Nyron Asgarali, Simbhoonath Capildeo, Katharine Ingelfield, Roy Mootoo, Hannah Janoura, Sir Vidia Naipaul, Brian MacFarlane and Claudia Pegus were recipients of national awards.
Prior to gaining independence, there was the Commonwealth Awards system which was confered by the Queen. On August 31, 1962, Sir Solomon Hochoy was installed as the first Governor-General and Premier Dr Eric Williams became the Prime Minister. To commemorate Independence 50 years ago, there were activities and events for a week. This year, for the country's jubilee anniversary, the Government has invested approximately $35 million towards celebrations which officially kicked off in April.
This was revealed by Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie in July in an interview with the Sunday Guardian. Traditionally, the nationals awards ceremony took place at the President's House, however, when part of it collapsed in May 2010, the venue was changed to the Queen's Hall at St Ann's. It is anticipated it will once again be held there on Friday.