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GUYANA OBITUARIES B2


Terence Ormonde Holder

Former Deputy General Manager of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Co. Ltd. and former General Manager of the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation died at his Lama Ave, Bel Air Park Residence in Georgetown, Guyana on Wednesday, January, 2014.


Terry came into prominence in connection with his service to radio broadcasting in Guyana, which followed his work as writer and producer while an Information Officer at the GIS (Guyana Information Services). His proven production skills earned him the position of the first Program Director of the Guyana Broadcasting Service (GBS) and later General Manager of the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC). Following his work in broadcasting, he was appointed Deputy General Manager of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Co. Ltd. (GT&T).

Son of the late Cecil Holder and Claudine Holder, he was born at Skeldon on the Corentyne in 1940.  His family later moved to Georgetown where he won a scholarship to Queen’s College in 1952.

Terry was a lifelong sports enthusiast and was active in many aspects of social life in Guyana.

He was an ardent promoter of the Guyana Folk Festival which began in 1982.  Folk Festival celebrates Guyana's rich cultural heritage and promotes creativity. NCN, the successor of the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation did not continue the Guyana Folk Festival, but starting 2001 the Guyana Cultural association of New York Inc in Brooklyn, New York continued the tradition.

After the change of government in 1992, he served on the board of directors of GBC’s successor, the National Communications Network (NCN).

He was a Rotarian for twenty-five years.


 A DAUGHTTER'S REFLECTIONS by Dawn Holder


Delivered at Memorial Service celebrating the life of Terence O. Holder at Our Lady of Victory Church, Brooklyn, NY, Sunday February 23rd, 2014

So much has been said about the life of my beloved father Terence Ormonde since January 8th, 2014 when on 73, the umpire gave him out. This time, unlike October 2011, when he asked for a review from the umpire’s decision to the third umpire and had that decision reversed, there was no appeal. With bat raised, he walked to the pavilion where he was called for higher service to thunderous applause. It was a cautious innings since 2011 as he made his way to 73, but what a fine innings it was overall.

He was not alone when he took his last breath, my brother held his right hand, I held his left, Ann Mc Lennan, a true friend held one of his legs, two of his nurses were present and Father Evan Semple who had been summoned yet again, performed the ritual of the last rites and we all stayed until the great batsman had gone.

Terence Ormonde Holder was born on August 27th, 1940, the year Learie Constantine was named cricketer of the year to Cecil, called Cardus after well known English cricket writer Sir Neville Cardus, and Claudine Holder (still batting at 101) at Number 79 Village on the Corentyne in then British Guiana. His sister Lorna was born one year before. It is from the east they say wise men hail, and he was surely the wisest man I ever knew.

An expert on almost everything and never one unwilling to share that knowledge. He taught me so many lessons about life, about his own life. He shared his thoughts and fears as since 2010, I returned to Guyana and lived with him. I continued working overseas but it was my strong desire to be with him that prompted that decision.

He was passionate about his beloved Queen’s College and I heard countless stories of his days there after moving to Georgetown as a young boy. The Holders in search of a better life for their family made that move, in the days of the train. The family moved frequently in Georgetown and as they did, he changed schools, from St Stephen’s to Moravian and then finally to Dolphin Primary School where under the watchful eye of his cousin Beryl Gilroy, a teacher there, he won a Centenary Scholarship to Queen’s College in1952.

He loved his beloved Queen’s and his stories about his time there were humorous. He was among a elite group which included Professors Ewart Thomas of Stanford University, Winston Mc Gowan of the University of Guyana, Alvin Thompson known as 9.9 for his athletic prowess, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, Dr. H.A.D. Chesney his best friend Victor Compton Insanally, the late John Lashley, Hugh Cholmondeley and Laurie Lewis.

In 1960 he was named among the QC Lictor’s Notable Departures with colours in athletcics, football and volleyball, Deputy Head of Moulder House. It was Professor Ewart Thomas who described him as the perfect student athlete. He recalled Laurie as Trinculo in a school play and remarked that though the performance had ended when everyone took their bow, Laurie always remained in that role.

He was not a convert to co-education though I followed his footsteps and entered QC in 1976. He felt this must have been a distraction for the boys and directlty impacted on the demise of sports there. No longer would QC produce a Bruce Pairadeau, a Roger Harper to play for West Indies, a Gordon ‘Ultimate Warrior” to lead Guyana at football or a Rupert Roopnarine to don the famous Cambridge blues.

His career in broadcasting has been well chronicled and as you know after serving the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (where Rafiq Khan, his friend and mentor described him as the Best Secretary General ever), he returned to Guyana in 1992 and joined the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Co. Ltd as Deputy General Manager, a position he held until he fell ill in 2011.

He was always on the go, serving the Guyana Cricket Board as their PRO for over 20 years, the Guyana Manunfacturers and Services Association, the Private Sector Commission, the Private Sector HIV Initiative, Club Friday (a think thank of persons who wanted to see a better Guyana) and Rotary Club of Georgetown Central where he served as President and was a Paul Harris Fellow.

Terence Ormonde Holder still found time to live his life and he lived it his way. In true Holder style, I arrived in NY yesterday at 1 p.m. and attended a party in Somerset NJ hosted by a cousin Orin Greene and while there I heard Demarco’s song, and I felt this had to be Daddy’s theme song, and it goes, “I love my life, I love my life. None a wi whuh tomorrow bring cah de future deh hours away, so mi a live my life today, mi a live my life today…Mek a change, don’t mek nobody stress yuh, don’t mek no blood pressure mek yuh life leff yuh, never hurt a soul unless yuh haffi defend yuhself if dem try test yuh. Thank god fi my life yes.”

My father enjoyed his days on this earth. He was married twice, had four children, yours truly, Shireen, Beverley and Duane, grandchildren Akilah Bartley (now expecting what would’ve been his first great grand), Kevin Alert, Yohanse and Dominic Wyles, Natsaha Hunte, Xaria, T’Sehai, Nneneyah and So’Kari Holder.

He always had an eye for a beautiful woman, enjoyed his dominoes games played three times a week at the home of Percy Boyce’s sister Margot and when he took the advice of his children and no longer drove, I became his chauffeur and that provided more time for him to share stories with me.

His days of broadcasting in Guyana were perhaps his happiest and from joining GBS as Sales Manager to becoming the General Manager of the merged Radio Demerara and GBS. Stories of managing greats such as the late Wordsworth Mc Andrew, Mark Matthews, Ken Corsbie, Pancho Carew, quality of the voices of radio then including Rafiq Khan, Vic Insanally, Pat Cameron, Phyllis Jackson, the late Ayube Hamid and Hugh Hamilton. Memories of seeing Brent Chapman on his P50 with a transistor to his ear riding, so keen was his interest.

Cricket was certainly his greatest passion and recently there was so much I wanted to discuss with him, Mc Cullum’s triple century, Dhoni’s captaincy under attack and the West Indies dismal performances against Ireland. When he loved a player, that love came with loyalty, and those who made his elite group included Chris Gayle, M.S. Dhoni, Jacques Kallis, the maverick Kevin Pietersen, Virender Sehway, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan and of course Shivnarine Chanderpaul, CCH.

In 2011, when the umpire gave him out and he survived the appeal, he was deliriously happy when he received a visit at home from Clive Lloyd, Chris Gayle, Darren Ganga, Curtley Ambrose and the entire Guyana cricket team. It was not long before he was back at Providence teasing Lance Gibbs about him coming out to bat at Queen’s Park as the last batsman to the chants of the crowd of, “Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.”

Daddy’s involvement with Hands Uniting Guyana is almost forgotten but it was dear to his heart as was the first Folk Festival he arranged.

He lived in a Guyana where every day he pointed to countless errors in the print media and I must share this one with you, a reference to the recently elected Christoper Matthias as President of the Guyana Football Federation, stated “Matthias are”. Daddy, with his usual wit suggested that it was the ‘s’ at the end of the name that fooled the reporter that it was the plural.

We had to live up to his high standards and we failed at times, but he was a forgiving father. When he complimented anyone, it was a sincere acknowledgement of a job well done. I can remember those times when he told me I looked nice or I wrote a good letter to the newspaper, I felt like a small child getting a star in their exercise book.

This service is truly testimony to a man who never worked in the tri-state area but who others saw it fit to honour him here. His send off in Guyana, apart from the rain which delayed the burial was truly overwhelming. He must be smiling from above just at the thought of his local cricketing hero Shivnarine Chanderpaul, CCH bearing his body out of the church.

To the organisers, the Holders say a heartfelt thank you for this lovely service, to all those who attended, it means the world to me for this show of support and love.

To that great Umpire who called him home to rest, I give thanks for my father’s life. He was the best father to me and I am thankful I was able to let him know this.

His spirit lives on in me, his family and all whose lives he touched. Terence Ormonde Holder, Gone but not forgotten.

I thank you.


Tribute - By Rafiq Khan, delivered at the Funeral Service for the late Terence Holder on Wednesday, 15th January, 2014 at St. Andrew’s Kirk.  


       For those of us of a certain age, memories are our only happiness.  I would like to share with you some unforgettable memories and reflections about my friend, Terry holder – not all of them happy.

 My most recent happy memory was one of Terry just a few days before Christmas, when he upended the purpose of my visiting him by cheering me up, instead of my cheering him up.

There was I, on my arrival in the country, full of anxiety for Terry’s welfare, being whisked to his home by our mutual friend Vic Insanally. Unknown to me, Terry had just moved into the very street where my Guyana home is located.

 Anticipating a one-on-one visit, I did not know I would be joining a  select group who had foregathered at Terry’s request, so that he could be with them for what, it is now sadly clear, he foresaw would be the last time.

And then, Terence Holder, made his entrance, wheel-chaired and frail, but with a mind, memory and wit as sharp and sparkling as ever, holding us all in his thrall. With me, he joshed as to whether, by finding himself now on the same street where I lived, had he moved up or down in life?

And he recounted some minutiae of our past encounters which I, in allegedly better condition, was hard put to remember. I doubt that any of us who were there would have left unaffected and not uplifted by Terry’s last hurrah.

Curiously, although of the same country and broadly of the same vocation  Terry and I had been distant journeymen on separate routes, until fate brought us together, not in Guyana, but in the wider Caribbean sphere - Terry as President, then Secretary General, of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and I responsible for UNESCO’s communication inputs in the region.

It was at a time when the CBU, a once vibrant organization founded by another Guyanese Hugh Cholmondeley, had  fallen prey to that well known and still-going-strong Caribbean syndrome of ramshackle glossed over by big-talk.

And here was Terry Holder, coming from an operational background, steeped in the then heady wine of Guyanese broadcasting at its best, and blessed with a non-abrasive personality and an equable temperament.

Here indeed was Terry, artful and gifted, on a mission to unite a disunited Union and energize it for the advancement of all its member systems.

If you ever thought Terry had his hands full dealing with one radio station in his earlier career, consider his new theatre of operations – at least 35 radio and television systems in 18 countries, each system, each country with its own needs, its own priorities.

At the same time, Terry had to contend with a CBU Board, forthcoming with directives to the Secretary General, but backsliding with resources. Yet he made the best of what he could muster, while becoming the convenient football for board members who preened themselves on the presumption that by making demands they had done their work.

Terry kept his cool - until at one meeting he had had enough and made a simple retort, to which there was no comeback, and which is now legend in the CBU. Terence Holder, under attack, quietly asked: “If bashing the Secretary General is the answer, what is the question?”

Into this milieu stepped UNESCO with money-bags and expertise, but also with – to use an ugly word – conditionalities.

Maybe it helped that we came from the same country and background, but importantly we subscribed to the same standards of professionalism and quality, and Terry took it to heart that for every privilege there was an obligation.

Our negotiations therefore tended to be conducted in a kind of shorthand, and out of a free-flowing partnership between the CBU  (i.e. Terry Holder) and UNESCO emerged improvements in broadcasting capabilities and outputs at a level and of a spread never before or since achieved.

Then, in the midst of a thriving relationship that was short on talk but big on delivery, Terry got homesick, forsook the CBU and returned to the country he loved to begin the third phase of his remarkable career.

I, on the other hand, remained around the CBU long enough to cement my view that Terence Holder was the most productive, indeed the best Secretary General, in the history of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union.

It was with the ending of our institutional relationship and his return to Guyana that our personal relationship truly began - one in which Terry felt free to decry the decline in the quality of broadcasting in this country and his helplessness to do anything about it.

And not only in broadcasting, he told me, but in so many other areas was Guyana caught in that decelerating vortex of being spun down to the lowest common denominator.

Terry was passionate about this loss of standards and despaired that it may be beyond reclaim. He feared that the mediocrity of yesterday was now the excellence of today. This insight brought to mind these words of a poet, slightly misquoted:

      “ Degradation is a monster of so frightful mien
       As to be hated needs to be seen.
       Yet, seen too often, familiar with her face,
       We first endure, then pity, then embrace”.

The question therefore becomes: How can a generation in the embrace of degraded values be made to recognize perennial excellence?

Fossils like me are long forgotten. But Hugh Cholmondeley strove, failed and is gone. Terry Holder agonized, failed and is now gone. And what of my other proteges – Vic Insanally, Ron Robinson, Rovin Deodat, Carlton James, who are still among you. Perhaps it is more expedient to send them too into pre-mature fossilage?

Terry Holder, among the last holdouts from an era when standards really mattered, lamented what has become of his beloved country as a whole...while I, an ancient mariner with a narrower perspective, have been searching in vain, amidst the tawdriness of a garbage and concrete jungle, for the Garden City of my youth.

Is anyone even noticing that the philistines are taking over our city and our country? Even in the little elegant avenue where Terry and I last lived, I see the philistines rising.

And I am left to wonder how paltry is any tribute of soon-forgotten words to such as Terence Holder? How long will we ignore our prophets? When will we gather the collective will to stand behind them and say: Enough?

 Or shall we continue to stand aside and look?

The life and stifled dreams of the prophet, Terence Holder, should bestir us to think on these things, and to rise up and act so that, one day, we who survive can lift our voices  triumphantly in Guyana’s Redemption Song.             

St. Andrew’s Kirk,



Hugh Cholmondeley


Hugh Neville James Cholmondeley, Guyanese broadcaster and international civil servant, passed away in a New York hospital on Friday, August 10, 2012 at age 73. His death, following a long battle with lung cancer, came peacefully and in the presence of his close family.

He was married to Marieanne. His children are Tracey, Cathy and Melina Deborah and Adrian.


(Click here) for a biography


Tribute - By Rafiq Khan, delivered at the Memorial Service for the late Hugh Cholmondeley on Friday September 7, 2012 at St. George’s Cathedral.


HUGH AND I – A TALE OF TWO FRIENDS


My name is Rafiq Khan., and Hugh Neville James Cholmondeley is my friend – down to the last syllable of his name…heard and unheard.


It does not lie in me to share with you, here and now, the best remembrances of my friend. Such memories come forth from time, distance and separation, and our friendship of some 55 years is still too close, still too alive, for the most significant memories to crystallize.


When we are in the process of growing experiences and fostering affinities, can we ever know at what point we are making a memory?

Did I know, for instance, that Hugh and I were making a memory one day in 1958, when a gangling youth, barely 18, sat before my desk? There he was, hunched like a runner at the starting block, with little to recommend him for the announcer role he sought but a huge voice and a gleam in his eyes. With a hope and a prayer, I took him on but, truth to tell, he kept crashing into some early learning curves, and it did not take long for the powers-that-were to come banging on my desk to send him home. But, with nothing to back me up but that gleam in his eyes, I stood my ground and gave him the space he needed to find himself. Soon he connected to his true talents, and it was onward, upward for young Cholmondeley… Today, we can only wonder what would have become of the lad had I under pressure rolled over and let him go?


As to his very name, Hugh, how could I have known we were making another memory at that first encounter when he introduced himself to me as Neville? Off-handedly, I remarked that his first name, Hugh, would sound more impressive on radio – and he took me up on it. Had he demurred, today we would be assembled here to pay homage to our great friend and kinsman, NEVILLE Cholmondeley! (“A rose by any other name…?”)


Again, did I know we were making a memory when, in those formative years, Hugh was found fusing into one person (himself) the functions of announcer and control operator? This, in the face of the strict orthodoxies of the time, which prescribed that the announcer must keep to his booth announcing and the operator must keep to his booth operating, and ne’er the twain shall meet. But, I stayed my hand. Why? Because some inner voice told me to go first to my room and listen. What I heard was stunning – a new way of presenting music on radio, no longer stilted but spontaneous and flowing .Vindication for Hugh – and the onset of a new phenomenon, the radio disc jockey.


And so it went on, with Hugh adventuring on the outer edge of the straight and narrow path, and me holding on to his shirt-tail for dear life. As we careened along, many barriers were knocked aside and potholes leapfrogged by this alliance of Faith and Trust – my Faith in him and his Trust in me to watch his back.


Such is the stuff of random memory, but surely the most enduring images of my relationship with this unforgettable man must lie, not in the blossoms of his beginnings, but in the blooms of his maturings?


Images such as those, ten years later, when our roles changed, and Mentor and protégé became competitors. Hugh had gone off to remodel a Radio Service which my Company had ceded to the Government. It was a curious kind of competition: Our agendas were different, the battle at operational level was keen, and leading well-honed, rival troops were two chieftains who, having grown in each other’s shadow, were convinced they could read each other’s mind. Of course, telepathy turned out not always to work but, in our jousting, never did we stray from the values I had instilled in Hugh and he had burnished in me. And the beneficiary of high endeavours was always the audience.


The dwindling survivors of that audience still treasure their own memories of those halcyon days and the essential role played by Hugh Cholmondeley. May I only say to those who may bemoan the state of broadcasting today in this land of ours:


Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment
That was Camelot.”


Fast forward by another ten years (it would seem that pivotal moments in the relationship between Hugh and me were always a decade apart). Having decided to leave the Guyana scene rather than become a creature of Government, I was torn between regional options, when UNESCO made me an offer I could not refuse. Hugh, who had gone ahead of me, was sent by UNESCO to Jamaica to establish its first Caribbean Office, and I was recruited, no doubt at Hugh’s urging, to join him as his Chief Technical Adviser.


So, there we were with another role change: In the beginning I was Hugh’s boss, then we were competitors, and now Hugh was my boss. And we were intrigued by the game that Destiny was playing with our lives.


But there was one more round of musical chairs to come. Hugh had moved on to higher calling within the UN System, and in the fullness of time I retired from UNESCO and began roving the Caribbean as a private consultant. That was when Hugh and I found ourselves meeting up once again on high-level regional projects, this time collaborating as equal colleagues. Thus, the gamut had been run.


But finally it came time for me really, really to retire (Hugh never did, really), and I settled back into my Jamaica nook, where my wife and I now spend our remaining days contemplating the sunset… And so, the question asked about the hand of Fate in Hugh’s early days may now be asked about me: What would have become of Rafiq Khan in his later years, were it not for Hugh Cholmondeley?


Underlying and knitting our chameleon-like professional relationship was an abiding personal friendship of over half a century – a friendship which extended to and embraced both our families. From wherever his UN peacemaking and rebuilding missions took him

- be it Haiti or Somalia or Liberia or even Afghanistan – Hugh would sometimes run ideas by me, not because of any expertise I had (since I had none) but, I daresay, from long habit of expecting a disinterested view from his old mentor.


Compared to the intractable problems he confronted on the world stage, sad to say, none caused Hugh Cholmondeley more agony and heartbreak than the mission he took onto himself in his own homeland. His efforts over the years, behind the scenes, to detribalize, harmonize and uplift the Guyana society were met for the most part by a tonal deafness or, at best, equivocation from contentious forces. Frustration dogged his steps, yet he kept on trying.


As life waned, I visited with Hugh a few weeks ago in his New York apartment and spent a precious day by his bedside, while Marieanne, his rock and comforter, withdrew into the background, allowing these two codgers to commune about their times together and reflect on life and legacy. To see a resurgent Guyana was for Hugh an endless, aching desire but, since time was running out on him, he told me he would settle for just being able to close his eyes in his beloved country. In the end, even that, Fate denied him.


So now, the labourer’s task is o’er… Nunc dimittis… But, Hugh Neville James, where’er you walk in Elysian Fields, every now and then look around. Who knows? It may not be long now before you see a certain, ancient figure in his accustomed position – right behind you – watching your back!


Rafiq Khan

7 September, 2012.

St. George’s Cathedral, Guyana.



Olga Lopes-Seale

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(Click here) for a biography


TRIBUTE BY RAFIQ KHAN

Delivered at Dame Olga’s funeral on February 15, 2011


And there I was, expecting her to attend my funeral. Olga, Olga, quite contrary, once again getting ahead of me.


Most of you probably never heard of me before, nor do I deserve to be known by you – except perhaps hereafter as Olga’s old friend.


We go back 60 years or more – Olga and I – to the radio station in the country of our birth, British Guiana, as it was then called.


That’s when and where Olga first came in contact – or as she would have said – in collision with a callow upstart, by the name of Rafiq Khan, who had the gall to position himself as her superior in rank, although her inferior in years and breeding.


That, however, only served to ignite a certain chemistry between us as we together explored that strange jungle of radio, making our mistakes, sometimes losing our way, often falling out, then falling back in; in short, we annoyed the best out of each other.


In later years Olga was never backward in proclaiming how much she learnt from that early relationship. But let me tell you, it is a foolish teacher who does not in the process learn from his student, and Olga taught me manifold lessons on how to manage and not to manage people and, more importantly, on the supernal values that justify our lives on God’s good earth.


Indeed, of all of my protégés down the years, there was none more naturally gifted, none more imbued with a sense of  mission, none more complete a broadcaster than Olga Lopes-Seale.


I say complete because she served the true ends of Broadcasting  by mobilizing talent in the cause of mission. That talent overflowed in the euphony of her lush voice, in her impeccable style and delivery, in the projection of her, in turn, ebullient and heart-warming personality, in her striving for the highest standards of performance and in that regard never suffering fools gladly.


As to her sense of community and spirit of outreach, what more can I say that you already do not know? Mission foreseen. Mission accomplished.


Let me end with these snapshots of Olga and me.


Olga in her early radio days, too shy to use the first person singular pronoun, instead always referring to herself as “yours truly” – until it got so jarring on me that I decided to saddle her with an inspirational program and made her call it Yours Truly Olga. And the rest is history.


Olga, regardless of the programme she was assigned to do, always sneaking in appeals for some little boy or girl who needed a pair of shoes or a meal or a Christmas toy. All well and good, except she kept skewing the content and purpose of the programme – until we fixed her by starting a fund for needy children and put her in charge of it. And the rest is history.


In those two illustrations, as with her every project, it goes to the genius of Olga Lopes-Seale that all of the inspiration and most of the perspiration were hers. My part was merely janitorial: I tidied up after her.


Fast forward to an episode in the fullness of our years. Olga on the verge of 90, sitting with me amidst a set of whipper-snappers judging a broadcasting competition. In my introductory remarks, I, making reference to Olga and me as the two senior citizens among them, only to have her interject: “speak for yourself.”


That’s Olga – forever young.

That’s Olga – my forever friend.


Eulogy by Mr. Vic Fernandes, Chief Executive Officer, Starcom Network at the Funeral of Dame Olga Lopes-Seale


Your Excellency Sir Clifford Husbands, Governor General of Barbados, the Honourable  Fruendel Stuart, Prime Minister, members of Cabinet of Barbados,  members of Her Majesty’s Opposition members of the Diplomatic Corps, family and friends of our late and beloved Olga, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.  This is the second occasion in as many weeks that I stand at this lectern here in this Cathedral to deliver an appreciation; I trust that circumstances will not require my presence in this role for a long time to come.  And though today we are saddened both by the circumstances of and the passing of our beloved Dame Olga, today ought to be a celebration of a life lived to the fullest and one faithful to the teachings of almighty God.  While there is no need to recite her many achievements and deeds, first in her native Guyana and then for the past almost 50 years here in Barbados, for these are well known and documented across both countries, it would be more than fitting to say that she shaped her life through the teachings of our Lord and faithfully adhered to them. Her work in ministering in a tangible and measureable way to the needs of the poor, deprived, neglected and marginalized stands out above all else.  


She loved her neighbour as herself, she did unto others as she would have them do unto her and others, she did not covet another's property, she loved her God. Above all else, she was charitable and compassionate, understanding and caring, she inspired many and gave hope to the hopeless.  Her integrity was beyond question.  Some compare her to mother Teresa but our Dame's work stands on its own and needs no comparison for validation.  She had an uncanny ability to mobilize critical forces to assist in her work and quietly traveled the length and breadth of this country in search of those in need and personally delivered the items to the appropriate recipients, she did not take chances lest some unscrupulous person or persons sought to exploit the marginalized. To the poor and forgotten in society she was Auntie Olga.


Frequently she was encountered late into the evening searching in some village in the country districts for a person in need, making that delivery personally.  And even at 90 plus she was still driving around the Diahatsu SUV.


Olga was a middle-of-the road driver and thought she was the best driver in Barbados. Any morning or evening drivers encountered a long line of traffic on Black Rock Road it was either the mini buses or Olga Lopes Seale. No one could get past her! She remained steadfastly in the middle of the road.  She would boast:”I am the best driver in Barbados. No one can drive better than me.” If she wasn’t the best she was certainly the oldest!


I will confess that when I saw Olga coming I gave the same respect as I did to an ambulance or Police Vehicle with sirens on, pull to the side and let her pass.  Noted Caribbean journalist and fellow Guyanese, Hubert Williams in paying tribute to Olga relates that two years ago at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium following an event, he offered to wait with her till her ride arrived but she indicated that her ride was there in the car park and so he walked her through the rain, umbrella in hand, only to see Olga open a big SUV wave goodbye and drive off.


The Needy Children's Fund, started in Guyana, lives on today as testimony to her work and skills. The Redifussion Needy Children's Fund in Barbados was another monumental success and even after her retirement she and her band of dedicated helpers worked day and night to assist those in need.  I once visited Olga at her home “Casa Blanca” in Stanmore Terrace to deliver some items which had been donated through a friend and was amazed that her house more resembled a warehouse than a home.


Harold Hoyte, Editor Emeritus of the Nation Publishing Co Ltd, tells me that it pained Olga when the press did not cover her Needy Children’s Party because she strongly felt that people who contributed should know how their money was spent.  On occasions when it was not covered, she would cuss, but on one occasion she actually went down to the NATION and cried. Such was the passion she felt for what she did and the pain she felt when her efforts went unreported.


He says, “Olga got her way every time. It is impossible to get around, above or below her. She had the knack of plaintively begging, insisting, demanding what she wanted. Not for herself; but for others in need.”


Many people remember her for the excellent radio voice and she readily acknowledged that. But she once told Harold: “People may like my voice, but they don’t like my mouth!” (She said it as she saw it.)


Respected Journalist, Roxanne Gibbs tells of Olga’s great love of Coca Cola. When visiting Olga in hospital just before her last birthday, she confided in Roxanne that she would dearly love to have a Coke, but the hospital staff would not give it to her. Roxanne told her that she had one, but that the doctors thought Coke was not good for her at this stage. Olga retorted: “At 92, you really think I worrying about what good for me. I have lived a long, happy and satisfying life and I am at the age where I should be able to eat and drink whatever I want. Give me the damn Coke.”


My introduction to Olga came at an early age as she and my mum were friends who as girls grew up together in Guyana where young Olga excelled as a songbird. But this multi-talented humanitarian would make her mark not only through her charitable work and her vocal skills; she was destined to be a Caribbean icon in the field of broadcasting. She was hired by the Dean of Caribbean broadcasters, Rafiq Khan, who is here with us today from Jamaica, at the then Radio Demerara and under the leadership of Raf, honed her skills to become the consummate broadcaster and ultimately earn her place among the icons of regional broadcasting as a Hall of Fame broadcaster. It was my honour as President of the CBU to confer that signal honour on her.


When she got her Knighthood she said: “I have the Barbados Service Star (BSS); the Gold Crown of Merit (GCM); an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and now Dame. The only letters I can now get are R.I.P.”

After she was knighted Olga always insisted: “Call me Dame Auntie Olga for sure. That is an order. Don’t you dare drop the “AUNTIE”.”


Her sense of humour was over the top; once while assisting her to a seat at a public event she reminded me with a little twinkle in the eye that everything was working from the knees up.


As a child she was ill a lot, n and out of hospital.  She once said that she had from filaria to malaria.  


Young Olga was a tom boy.  When she was not sick she was skipping school and pitching marbles in the back yard of Funky Fung rum shop for buttons.


As she grew into Guyana’s blonde bombshell, the pride of Guyana would be conquered by a Bajan.

Olga Lopes swept Dick Seale off his feet, quite literally.

She had gone to a birthday party and saw him sitting “like a sore thumb” in a corner by himself, she went up to him, introduced herself, and asked him to dance.  He was reluctant.  She insisted and he got up and danced.  However, upon realizing “he could only do a one-step” she got bored with him.  They saw each other on and off, still without him making any big impression on her, but, as she was to discover, he had fallen head over heels for her from the first one-step.  Clearly this Bajan had a tactical approach and recognized patience as a virtue.


She said “Dick was a Barbadian who had come to Guyana to work as a sugar overseer.  He turned up at my house, reminded me who he was, and started sending me love letters and proposals.  He was in love with me, but I did not love him then.”


That was to change as this Bajan would not be denied, so when Olga was bedridden with Filaria, Dick would ride from Berbice about 75 kilometres away, to sit at her bedside, waiting patiently for his beloved to open her eyes, even while she pretended to be asleep.


To hear Olga tell it, after a while she got used to him, discovered he was a nice, kind, and might I add determined person and friendship blossomed into love.


And when his umpteenth marriage proposal was finally accepted, even the wedding night had its challenges as our blond bombshell had food poisoning and a night of romance became, instead, a night of running to and fro to the bathroom.  There was to be no romance that night.


They had many adjustments to make, as a sugar man Dick rose early and consequently went to bed early too, while his wife became the social butterfly.


Of Dick Seale she said, “I am glad he was my husband and father of my children.  He was a good man, quietly determined and patient.”  That union lasted 50 years till Dick’s passing.


As a child she loved riding her bicycle and would sometimes have six or seven children on her bike at the same time.  Even as an adult, she would ride her green Rally bike to Barbados Rediffusion during the oil crisis in the 70s.  


Susan, one of her granddaughters tells a favourite story of her Granny.

One morning Susan wanted boiled egg for breakfast but once she got it, did not want it anymore and threw it away on the lawn.  Olga asked Susan if she ate the egg and Susan replied “yes.”  Olga decided she would check Susan’s mouth for traces of egg and found none.  She went outside, recovered the egg, washed it off and made Susan eat it.


She was meticulous with her charity work. One morning Aunty Olga visited an old lady who had written to her and told her how hard things were and that she had nothing in the house.  Olga visited at the old lady’s house and was amazed to see TV, telephone, stereo and all the things that a modern day home would have.  A day or two later the old lady called back Aunty Olga and asked if she was going to get help.  She told her no because she lived in a comfortable home and the old lady said, “but I borrowed that house because I did not want you to come to my real house and see how I live”.

She always kept parcels of food in her car and gave them out randomly to people that were in need.



Aunty Olga got a traffic ticket once for doing a rolling stop in Black Rock.  The Police Officer told her “I know you are Auntie Olga but you have to obey the traffic laws and you are always telling people to do the right thing”.


Another time Aunty Olga argued with Police Officers because she wanted to park in front of Cave Shepherd for 5 minutes to run in to purchase toys.


She did not like people speaking softly or saying “ammm” when they were speaking.

Before she did an outside broadcast she would visit the area to familiarize herself with the neighborhood.  She made sure to do the research.  


She did not like or have committees, she did most of the work herself.  

She once had a children’s party on the Drill Hall beach for 1500 children and was able to pack gift bags to give to each child.

People would call her at 5:00 in the morning to say that their children did not have anything to eat before going to school and she would get out of her bed, have a cup of tea and take food for the needy mother.  This was Dame Olga.


As a young boy I sat on the wall outside what is now STARCOM Network Inc waiting for the school bus to take me to Presentation College in St John and would be mesmerized by the occasional passing of the giants of broadcasting, Olga among them. Never did I dream that one day I would sit in the CEO's chair and still have Olga's wisdom to call on. She once told me that she enjoyed reading obituaries, “why?” I enquired with some puzzlement, to which she responded that she took great care in doing justice to those announcements as in many cases it would have been the only time the deceased would be featured on a public medium.

Children’s Party with Joe Tudor, Keith Campbell, Carson, Auntie Doris and others was a “must listen to” on Saturday mornings and there is hardly a Barbadian entertainer of worth who did not cut their teeth in studio 3.


Few Broadcasters also work in the print medium; Olga was one of those rare species.  It was Carl Moore, Editor of the NATION at the time who said that instead of carrying the internationally syndicated Dear Abby love column, we should create our own; and he thought that Olga had all the qualities to do the job; hence “Dear Christine”.


Her first column appeared on December 9, 1973, after being promoted in advance.  That first letter was from a single man who was having an affair with a married woman and he was afraid the husband would find out, so he asked Christine what he should do.


Her reply: “Nothing. Just beat it.” (Not in the colloquial sense, but in the sense of walking away from the affair.)


She continued to write the column for the next 34 years, only giving way to Roxanne Gibbs in 2008.


Her ‘Column to Cherish’ came much later and was a result of inspirational poems which she would submit from time to time until they became a fixture in the Sunday paper. The last one appeared the week before her passing.


To have been asked to deliver an appreciation of this towering human being was an honour.  Never could I have imagined as I sat on that wall outside Barbados Rediffusion, that one day I would be asked to say a few words on her passing.  


Had I the foresight, I would have been better prepared.


It has been suggested that we ought to erect a permanent monument to the memory of this amazing humanitarian and there is no doubt that she deserves it.


A fitting tribute to her, however, would be for us to ensure that those who find themselves in strained circumstances would be assisted until they are able to again stand on their own two feet and regain some human dignity.


On behalf of our Group Chairman, Sir Fred Gollop, the Directors of One Caribbean Media, the Group CEO of OCM, Dawn Thomas, Olga’s colleagues at STARCOM Network Inc, the Board of Directors, Harold Hoyte Chairman of the Nation Publishing Corporation and the Directors of the Nation Group of Companies and the wider fraternity of Broadcasters of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union as well as on behalf of my family, I extend to her children Marcia Bancroft, John Seale, her grand children, Susan, Ann and Alan and her great grands, our sincere condolences on the passing of this unique human being.


I am sure that our God will grant unto her rest eternal and that she will one day rise in Glory.




Patricia Cameron
better known as 
Pat Cameron

Patricia Perot Cameron, nee Christiani, former Guyana broadcaster, died on June 30 in a New York hospital after suffering two brain aneurysms.

Pat was born on October 3, 1924 to Lilian Gertrude Christiani and Henry Perot Christiani.

A Bishop's High School graduate, she was worked in the Guyana Civil Service, was trained as a Social Welfare Officer in Jamaica.

She entered the world of broadcasting by way of reading scripts for Broadcasts to Schools then joined Radio Demerara on February 9, 1959.

Hers was a well-loved household name in Guyana, though some, both young and old, preferred to call her Aunty Pat.

Pat loved people and people loved her. This carried over into her work as broadcaster and showed in her broadcast programs and in her interactions with colleagues in the workplace.

Among the programs she produced and presented were women’s programs, talk shows, a “Call-in” program, children’s talent shows, and numerous programs featuring recorded music of all kinds.

Pat did research into Guyanese folklore and recorded a series of programs featuring Guyanese proverbs told in dialect.

She was the recipient of many awards. She was awarded the Golden Arrow of Achievement, one of Guyana’s highest national awards, for “broadcasting of an exceptionally high standard.” She was also voted Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for dramatic performances at the Theatre Guild of Guyana and the National Culture Centre of Guyana.

Pat loved writing poetry for her own enjoyment. In the year 2000, however, she issued a limited publication of selected poems, titled "This is My Song", which she shared with others.

Pat was married to Henry Cameron (deceased) in 1952. She was the mother of Dianne Aaron, Capt. Christopher Cameron, and Gail Cameron-Langevine; grandmother of seven and great grandmother of two.

Read one of Pat's poems: "Peace."

Click here to add your tribute to Pat Cameron

 

The following tribute from Rafiq Khan, former General Manager of Radio Demerara, was read at the funeral of Pat Cameron.

                             PAT CAMERON – A REMEMBRANCE    

    Pat belonged to the glory years of Radio in Guyana – the mid-50s to the late-70s – an era of which it was my good fortune to be a part, together no doubt with others among those present here today  to celebrate her life. 

If any of you at some time or other suspected I had a soft spot for you, you were absolutely right. But no spot was softer than the one I had for her who never needed the over-generosity of memory to define her qualities. No spot was more special than the one I reserved for Pat Cameron. 

How well I remember the circumstances of her recruitment. It followed days of fruitless auditioning of candidates …until I grew tired and frustrated. Then came the final day with a huge batch of hopefuls, and I looked upon the multitude and in a  tremulous voice, prayed: God, I don’t have the energy anymore. Please give me today the announcer of my dreams”… And the Good Lord, answering my prayer, gave me Pat Cameron. She was the first candidate to be auditioned that day and, after her, I had no ears for the rest. 

Here was this seemingly shy and diffident young lady who instinctively took to the medium of radio and sailed full speed ahead, fueled by her own talent and inborn sense of quality. There was no need for me to chart maps for Pat. A word here – a smile there – a gentle nudge elsewhere – was enough. 

Yet, she would tell of how hard I made life for her by always shifting her designated port of call a little beyond her grasp. Nevertheless, she could not resist those stretching exercises, because I held steadfastly before her the mirror of her own infinite possibilities, and she saw reflected therein the seas still to be sailed, the worlds yet to be conquered. And how could she deny her own imperatives? Indeed, nudged and prodded, she reconciled herself to the truth that the pursuit of excellence is long and hard and brooks no compromise….And Pat stayed the course.

OK, she might have suffered at my hands, but she knew alright how to get her own back at me. And she did it every December, in full public hearing, when the time came for the staff show, Christmas at Radio Demerara. 

From those halcyon days, I still relish the memory of Pat unsheathing her double-edged sword of verse and song and thrusting at me her lyrically devastating, back-handed compliments, I wish today I could hear again that masterpiece of hers – the song she entitled: “Rafiq Khan, Our Shining Head”. 

And so, Pat Cameron strode down the years expressing and fulfilling herself in the medium of radio and, in the process, entrenching herself in the hearts of her colleagues and her audience. But let the credit for what she accomplished rest securely where it belongs – with herself. I may have provided a little course correction here and there, but all the heavy navigating was her own. 

Then came those arid latter years – after I had departed the scene. As other  people’s standards rotted and collapsed around her, Pat held firm and true to her innate values and became an unwavering beacon to those who knew how once it was and who wanted it to be so again. 

In these days of mediocrity born of an all-too-easy self-satisfaction, it is good to remember Pat  and the standards she, with her colleagues, strove for and achieved. One day, our homeland will return onto itself, and what they did in their day will be the reference point for what is yet to come.

 With a full heart, it now only remains for this old friend and scourge to bow his “shining head” in tribute to Pat, recognizing that no more does she belong to only the glory days of  Radio - She now belongs to the ages. 

So, as we in Jamaica would say: Walk good, my friend…..To which I would add: And where’er you walk, may Angels attend you.                                       

Rafiq Khan,  Kingston, Jamaica.        7/6/09  

7/7/09

Pat Cameron was an outstanding woman and professional. We shared an office at GBC and became supportive colleagues! She was dignified, had a fantastic sense of humor and was a vision for a better Guyana.

Vibert Cambridge

7/7/09

Owmigoy! She’s an inspiration. What a wonderful human being. Lovely person! Beautiful woman!

Am with you in the celebration of her living.

Marc & Kamal.  U.K 
 

7/7/09

I will always remember fondly the years we worked together at Radio Demerara. She was an inspiration to us all.

Derrick Pieters

7/7/09

I would like to express my sentiments as follows:

When I started on radio in 1965 Pat was already established as not only Guyana's best female broadcaster but the Caribbean's number one. What a wonderful ability at expressing herself, both on and off air. She was articulate and yet not verbose; she was the queen of radio and yet humble. As Rudyard Kipling wrote "If you could move with kings and not lose the common touch" ...... Pat did just that.

The proof of her total acceptance by her listeners was evidenced by the name by which she was called by everyone, even those much older than she was - "Auntie Pat". I remember her annual Christmas programmes at the Palms when one could feel the love and affection residents there showered on her as they fondly spoke with their "Aunty Pat" - and well she deserved such expressions. They all felt that she was their very own "Aunty Pat" - and indeed she was.

"Visit with Patricia" and "Woman, Home and Family" are indelibly imprinted in my mind and that of thousands who were fortunate to have been radio listeners during her tenure. 

I also consider myself much greater for the experience of working alongside Pat for many years, for it was from her that my foundation in radio was developed and it was from her that I learnt so much about good broadcasting practices. She was firm and yet gentle in correcting and, because of the respect we had for her, such corrections were readily accepted. 

Pat even provided us with laughter with her then famous bloopers. In fact, we all considered her our "top blooperist". She once read a commercial for Bookers Universal and referred to the store as "Yookers Buniversal". It was Pat who had her operator (Haydn Cashmir) sitting on the floor when she referred to men's bowties as BOW (as in 'how') tees. It was Pat who would look frantically for her spectacles, which were perched on her head. But it was also Pat who inspired us all to be the best, for when you worked in a team that included her you were motivated to be nothing but the best.

I say to Gail, Dianne, Christopher and the other members of the family - my deepest sympathies on your loss and my prayers are with you all. She will never be forgotten and may God grant her soul eternal rest. 

Ron Robinson

7/7/09 

For Pat Cameron, the decision to embark on a career in broadcasting was not an easy one.  Dedicated to always doing the best that she could in everything, Pat wasn’t sure she could combine the duty to bring up three young kids with the responsibilities of service to the public. She was overcome with joy when the redoubtable Rafiq Khan informed her that her audition was a success.  After several disturbing days, she took the decision and became a natural member of a distinguished team that included stalwarts like Olga Lopes-Seale, Lillian Fraser and Eileen Fitzpatrick.    

 

She brought to her new vocation an inquisitive interest in everything around her, always reaching for the highest standards and completely dedicated to hard work and daily practice.
  

The rest is history.  Pat’s success in broadcasting was assured because of her four great passions.  She was passionate about communicating in plain language.  She was passionate about exciting young minds with stories of past glories.  She was passionate about recounting folk traditions that teach the lessons of life.  And finally, she was passionate about imparting knowledge that made the duties of mothers less burdensome.  The true expressions of her art were demonstrated by the skills she developed in transforming her passions into programmes that touched, fulfilled and enriched the lives of young and old alike.  That is her enduring legacy.”

 

 Hugh Cholmondeley  

7/7/09

Pat was a broadcast professional, who brought artistry to everything she did. She loved people in general and was supportive and inspiring to colleagues. How can we not miss her?

James Sydney

7/7/09

Although I never had the pleasure of working with her (at Radio Demerara), I did have the task of devising programmes (at GBS) to compete against her.  It was not an easy undertaking, and I know that we never succeeded in luring her faithful and admiring audience.  She was an accomplished broadcaster, but beyond that a lovely and charming lady.   
 
I was honoured several years ago to join other Guyanese broadcasters in New York in paying tribute to her work. She will long be remembered for her personal qualities of good grace and good humour, and for her professional high standards in broadcasting.
 
I send to her relatives my sincere sympathy, and remind them that no ill befalls the good in life or death.
 
Kind regards. 
Ronald Sanders
Sir Ronald Michael Sanders KCMG 

7/13/09

Aunty Pat (that is what I called her as a kid) was always a great person to me.  Every Friday afternoon at 3:00 p,m in Studio 'B' was the recordings of On Show Young Guyana.  I still remember the song we (the kids) had to sing :' On Show Young Guyana /It's a show for you and for me/ It's on Radio Demerara /7:60 on your dial /So get set- get set And let's go/ R-A-D-I-O   D-E-M-E-R-A-R-A /ON SHOW YOUNG GUYANA

 

Aunty Pat - was really a beautiful and quiet individual whom I loved very much.  

 

See you in heaven Aunty Pat.

 

Evadne VanSluytman-Duff

8/1 09

One of the most important things I learned from Pat is to love with all your heart. Another one is to believe the best of people. She was the most gracious, kind and beautiful person I've ever known. Talented too- except for her driving that is!

To say that Pat inspired me is an understatement. She took me under her wing when I was a gawky, 15-year-old school-girl with what seemed at the tiime to be an impossible dream. With her gentle ways and great sense of humour, she nudged and guided me along to make that dream come true. 

I wish if every young person today could be so blessed to have someone like Pat in their lives to believe in them and just take the time to care. 

I know Pat is watching and smiling today. I wish I could be there in person to talk about how special she was to me. But I know that there's a roomfull of people who are expressing many of the same feelings.

I will miss her so much, but I'll never forget her faith in me and the wonderful gifts that she brought to my life. Thank you Pat - my dear, dear friend, mentor and 'mother'. 

Love to everyone. "And the tin-in bend and the story end." :-)

Ann De Freitas