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Fatima ‘Decade 2’ pays tribute to Justice Baird

Vernon Khelawan (right) presents Melville Baird with an award.

Fatima’s College Decade Two Past Pupils Group (1955–1964) in a historic, but very simple and informal function recently paid tribute to one of their peers Chairman of the Integrity Commission (IC) 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 CSSp 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 group for the opportunity to be a part of such a revolutionary innovation. Winston ‘Brando’ Thomas, the Master of Ceremonies 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 his many life accomplishments—from lawyer to magistrate, Senior Magistrate, Chief Magistrate, High Court Judge and the cream of his accomplishments judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. When we thought Melville was done, he was appointed Chairman of the IC.

Tributes by his one-time classmates came from Curtis Williams and former banker Kenny Joseph. The highlight of the afternoon saw Vernon Khelawan present Melville with a small award—a narrow see-through award emblazoned with the college logo and the Latin slogan of the college “nintendo vinces” meaning “by striving you shall conquer”.

In response Melville, 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 guys 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. One thing though: the song wasn’t around in Decade Two, so many silent voices. Then the bacchanal started—drinks and food fuh so prepared by another Fatima old boy Carl Randoo. May we use the cliched phrase “A good time was had by all”.