THREE heads of the nation and their spouses took on softer roles at Sunday night’s National Awards ceremony when they comforted Prematee Seucharan, who collected the Hummingbird Medal Silver for her son who died saving lives.
Seucharan’s son, 31-year-old Nicholas Seucharan, drowned on March 3 after saving two boys from the same fate.
Prematee Seucharan’s face was one of pain as she made her way to the rostrum at Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s to collect the award and the tears had begun to flow by the time she accepted the medal from President Anthony Carmona.
Seucharan was comforted by Carmona and his wife, Reema, then as she made her way down, by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her husband, Dr Gregory Bissessar.
Then came Chief Justice Ivor Archie and his wife, Denise. Seucharan was by that time so grief-stricken that she had to be held by Denise Archie and comforted a moment longer.
The applause as Seucharan made her way back to her seat was a little louder.
In an interview with the media following the ceremony, a soft-spoken Seucharan said while she was grateful for the recognition of her son’s bravery, she would have traded the medal for her son.
She said the family is still trying to cope with their loss and Nicholas Seucharan will never be forgotten.
Also speaking on the red carpet for honorees after the ceremony was Pastor Clive Dottin, who received the Chaconia Medal Silver for Religion/Education/Community Service, who said the May 2014 murder of Dana Seetahal, SC, must not be lost on the nation.
Dottin has been asked his opinion of the award of the Chaconia Medal Gold to Seetahal posthumously.
The group, Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT) had submitted Seetahal’s name for the highest award, the Order of Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT). There has been controversy as it was felt that nomination had been successful. The Seetahal family sought to clear the air via Twitter yesterday saying “in that context, when members of the media called and told Susan Francois (Seetahal’s sister) she would not be receiving the highest award, she of course expressed her disappointment. The family remains appreciative of any award bestowed on our beloved aunt and sister.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had also announced that former prime ministers Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday would be bestowed the ORTT but both men declined it.
Seetahal’s name was called at the end of Sunday’s ceremony and it was announced that as indicated by her family, the award would be collected at a later date.
Dottin said on Sunday the family was “still hurting” but said, “We have to not criticise at this time whether it should have been the Order or not.”
Dottin also said this country must act now to save its young people and particularly its young men, too many of whom are dying every day.
At least one criticism was made on the red carpet though, as Kendell Charles, who accepted a posthumous Chaconia Medal Silver medal on behalf of his brother, Rudolph Charles, felt that higher awards had been given for less.
Charles said his brother had “lived” pan, whereas the ORTT had in 2008 been awarded to Prof Brian Copeland for his work in the same field, which Charles referred to as “putting something together”.
The night was not without its humour.
Two women were wrongly identified as wives when they were not and one enthusiastic businessman attempted to plant a kiss on the Prime Minister while accepting his award.