Photo: Awardees with H.E. Nicholas. L-R: Gerald Forsyth, OBE; son of Grafton Yearwood; Toussaint Clarke; Dudley Dickson; H.E. Garvin Nicholas; UKPTG Chairman Robbie Joseph; Frank Rollock and Tony Charles

It came as a complete shock to His Excellency Garvin Nicholas when he was presented with a most thoughtful gift from the Pan Tuners Guild, made by veteran pan tuner and Guild Chairman Robbie Joseph, in recognition of his efforts in promoting and assisting the pan community in the United Kingdom. The occasion was the UK Pan Tuners Guild Awards Ceremony which was hosted by the High Commissioner on Friday 31st January.

The members of the Guild expressed their gratitude to H.E. Nicholas for his support of their work with the presentation of a one of a kind miniature steel pan, specially designed with a unique covering which would allow the instrument to also be used as an ornate coffee table.

“H.E. Nicholas has been a staunch advocate for the promotion of the steel pan during his tenure as High Commissioner,” Mr. Joseph declared. “We are deeply appreciative of his support and his commitment to the advancement of Trinbagonian culture in the UK”.

H.E. Nicholas thanked the Guild members and praised them for their significant contribution to the art form. “Every time you produce and sell our national instrument, you extend the reach of our cultural heritage. The new owner becomes interwoven in the rich tapestry that is Trinidad and Tobago,” declared the High Commissioner. “Organisations such as the UK Pan Tuners Guild are valuable resources which not only contribute to the enhancement of pan production but introduce new generations to an instrument forged from a rich and colourful history”.

Mr. Joseph lauded the achievements of the night’s awardees, remarking that the group included the inventors of the Collapsible Folding Stand and the Octopan, impresarios who performed and produced steel pans for schools, steelbands and shops all over the world, educators who introduced steel pan to the curriculum of many British schools, and innovators whose formation of early steelbands led to the development of West Indian style Carnivals in the UK.

Awards were presented to Mr. Tony Charles, Mr. Toussaint Clarke, Mr. Dudley Dickson, Mr. Gerald Forsyth, OBE, Mr. Frank Rollock, Mr. Grafton Yearwood and Mr. Aubrey Bryan, all founding members of the UK Pan Tuners Guild.

H.E. Nicholas pledged his continued support to the organisations and individuals involved in the development of steel pan, and called for greater recognition to be given to the potential of the instrument to galvanise community spirit and national pride. “In societies all around the world we see a deplorable lack of community, young people who are disillusioned and are easy prey for undesirable elements,” he stated. “But we must not forget how the steel pan was born. It was out of similar communities that young men coalesced around the birth of the steel pan. It is time that we reenergise our efforts to involve our young people in the playing and tuning of the steel pan, not just in Trinidad and Tobago, but the world”.