The Trinidad Guardian / Fatima College Decade Two Past Pupils Group (1955-1964) in a historic, but very simple and informal function, recently paid tribute to one of its peers, Integrity Commission (IC) chairman Melville Baird.
Held at the secondary school they all once attended decades ago, the ceremony began with Holy Mass celebrated by school principal Fr Gregory Augustine and a reading by Felix Rivers in the Chapel followed by a small reception at the College Hall in Mucurapo.
Mass began with a short welcome speech by current President of the Fatima Old Boys Association (FOBA) Ruthven Thompson who thanked the Decade Two boys (men now) for the opportunity to be a part of such a revolutionary innovation. Master of ceremonies Winston “Brando” Thomas gave a synopsis of Baird’s college life, punctuated with wily humour.
It was the turn of childhood friend Alec Clarke to give an abbreviated version of Baird’s many life accomplishments-from lawyer to magistrate, Senior Magistrate, Chief Magistrate, High Court Judge and the crown of his accomplishments, Judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in the Netherlands.
“When we thought Melville was done, he was appointed Chairman of the IC,” said Clarke.
Tributes by Baird’s former class mates came from Curtis Williams and former banker Kenny Joseph. The highlight of the afternoon saw veteran journalist Vernon Khelawan present Baird with a small award-a narrow crystal award emblazoned with the College logo and the Latin slogan of the college “nintendo vinces” meaning “by striving you shall conquer.”
In response, Baird, using his high but customary lexicon said: “To be the recipient of encomiums, laudations and recognition from you, my college friends, my classmates, my peers, for my judicial career and my present appointment… is an experience that is at once humbling and exhilarating.”
He thanked the men for their devotion, their loyalty and love.
The vote of thanks was given by Dr Alvin Ashton and then the entire group, led by Carl Carmino, stood for the singing of the Fatima College song.
There was one exception; the song was non-existent in the era of Decade Two, so there were many silent voices. Then the bacchanal started-drinks and food “fuh so,” prepared by another Fatima old boy Carl Randoo. To use the cliched phrase, “A good time was had by all.”