Lydia Paul’s Send-Off
Teacher, community activist, social worker and PNM affiliate, Lydia Paul, was buried on December 14, 2009. This album contains scenes from the funeral service from St. David’s Anglican Church to the Cemetery in Plymouth, Tobago which was attended by relatives, friends and members of the People’s National Movement.
Remembering Lydia Paul
“The worst thing in life is to do nothing.” —Lydia PaulLydia Magdalena Paul, popular teacher, community activist, social worker, educator, cultural promoter, Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of Affidavits, volunteer worker, lay minister, choir mistress and Humming Bird Gold recipient, just to name a few of her achievements, was laid to rest on December 14, 2009, after passing away at the ripe age of eighty-three. Originally from Black Rock Tobago, the Spring Gardens Tobago resident passed away at her home and leaves to mourn family, friends and many people who she assisted and who indeed assisted her during her life’s work.
Many persons from all over Tobago turned up at the St. David’s Anglican Cemetery in Plymouth for the service. The church and the large tent outside of the church overflowed with persons who came to pay their respects. Persons from all walks of life were there including THA Chief Secretary Orville London, PNM MP Keith Rowley, former Minister of Culture Joan Yuille Williams as well as members from the different organisations she was a part of, such as the Pembroke Village Council and the PNM’s Women’s Federation.
Mother of six children, sons Henry, Lennox, Richard, Godfrey and Learie and daughter Suzanne, Lydia Paul or Queenie as she was called by loved ones left the earth with several accomplishments under her belt, many of which are not mentioned here. However, according to family of the deceased, she was aware of her privileges, such as her light-skin and slim physique. She also made it clear that many of her achievements were as a result of the help that she received from people during difficult times including Mr. Wilford Carrington who she always mentioned with love and with appreciation and Dr. Eric Williams who remained close to her until his passing in 1981.
Mrs. Paul was described by those close to her as very strict but equally charming and valued what others thought of her. She would often quote Iago from ‘Othello’ Act 3, Scene 3:
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.
She tried her best to live by the code of good character because she believed that honesty and integrity were invaluable and that if people demonstrated poor character, it was a mark of shame.
She always spoke well of her mother, an African woman who was proud and very beautiful according to Lydia Paul. So much was the love for her mother that she took care of her until her death in the early 1990’s.
Her father, a White looking, mixed-race fellow of African and Scottish ancestry was also loved by the late Mrs. Paul and she bore the Cruickshank title like a badge of honour. Although she loved her father dearly, she admitted that she regretted that he did not allow her to follow her dreams, one of which was to become a singer. Lydia Paul was actually offered to travel to the United States to record her music. But with an over-protective father, this did not happen.
Lydia Paul also showed much affection to her grandchildren and often expressed her desire to live a long life just to see what they would become.
Eulogist and first son of the deceased, Henry Paul, recalled many fond memories of his mother as the packed church listened in rapt attention. He described the life of Lydia Paul in three phases. Below is an excerpt of his speech which provides a description of Lydia Paul’s life:
Phase 1: The Early Years
Lydia Paul retired Community Development Supervisor, Commissioner of Affidavits, Justice of the Peace, PNM stalwart, friend, advisor, mentor, aunt, trainer and most of all Queen, “Mother” to us, her children and to her nephews and nieces and also to other members of our family and our friends and so many other people, was given to us in this world on 14th January, 1926, (her birth certificate says 10th January, 1928). Her Mother said the 14th January, 1928, and Lydia, who dearly loved her mother, Delly Tobago or Delcinia Cruickshank (Delly was grown up on Prospect estate with pomp and splendor and assumed the name of her adoptive parents) decided like her mother, that she would celebrate her birthday on the 14th of January each year.
She was the fourth child of Daniel and Delcinia Cruickshank and was the “darling” of her father who formed a protective barrier around his daughter, even at an early age. Lydia grew up in Black Rock, Tobago. In her own words she indicated that her early years were very happy and she loved school because she excelled beyond what was considered the norm. Placing first in test was usual and normal for mummy and when in one term she came fourth in test; the Headmaster rang the bell [and] stopped the whole school to announce that Lydia had come fourth in test. She was so embarrassed that it never happened again. Because of her educational ability she was selected to become a Monitor at the Black Rock Moravian School. However she did not pursue the teaching profession. She continued to grow and glow…
By the time she had emerged as a beautiful, exotic, decent young lady it was obvious that the boys (I had better say young men), had become interested in her. But there was one problem… Daniel Cruickshank. To get to Lydia, as indeed to any one of his daughters, you had to pass the “acid test” of “Pa Dan”. Many young men failed this test miserably. In my mother’s case, one such young man did pass and he was Duke Paul, my father. The only reason he passed was because Pa Dan wanted him to pass. Daniel, my grandfather and my father’s parents were friends and so that was settled among them. A marriage was arranged and my beloved mother became Mrs. Lydia Paul. They both moved to Guayaguaryare, Trinidad, where my father worked. And so my brothers, my sister Suzanne and I came into this world – the six children of my mother.
In 1962, my father went to England to study and so we all returned to Tobago to live with our grandmother (his mother) and our great-great grandfather Pa Jackey at that landmark house in Black Rock – the first and last house. By 1963, Hurricane Flora hit Tobago and luckily our house endured with only minor damages. It was one of those that was left standing in the village. This was the first phase of Mrs. Lydia Paul, Daniel’s daughter, Duke’s wife and housewife, the mother of six beautiful children.
Phase Two: Mrs. Paul’s Entry into Public Life
Nineteen sixty-three was a very significant year for mummy. It was the year she became the President of the Black Rock Women’s Group. This was also the year she first met Dr. Eric Williams, the Prime Minister, during his visit to Black Rock on his “Meet the Peoples’ Tour” throughout Trinidad and Tobago, and this was the year that she was invited to her first cocktail party (the first of many which I had the good fortune of attending later as I accompanied her).
It all started with Ada Irvine, her friend, setting her up to become the president of the Black Rock Women’s Group. Ada was the president and wanted to pass the baton to Lydia. Ada tried many times to get her to go to the meetings but mummy resisted. In an attempt to please Ada, mummy did in fact attend one such meeting not realizing that a by-election for the post of president of the women’s group would be held. She was nominated and seconded (by Ada’s instigation of course). Mummy declined, but it was too late. So she became the president of the Black Rock Women’s Group in 1963 and remained at the helm for 3 years. Mummy described these years as a “wonderful experience.” The group planned many successful programmes, held concerts, celebrated birthdays and took part in programmes organized by the Community Development Division.
By 1965, the Black Rock Community Centre was completed and opened by Dr. Williams and mummy sang “The Lords Prayer” on the opening programme. Her performance was so outstanding that even the Prime Minister himself warmly congratulated her. That was on Sunday. By Monday she received a telegram to visit White Hall. She loved to talk about this telegram which read:
Mrs. Lydia Paul – Official car from home to airport – Crown Point
– on Thursday – to Trinidad
Official car from Piarco – PM1 – to St. Anns Education Centre –
then to White Hall – at the request of the Prime Minister.
This marked the beginning of the rise of Mrs. Lydia Paul into service for Tobago.
After an interview and the normal Public Service administrative arrangements, 16 Community Development Aids from Trinidad and Tobago went into training in Trinidad. Mummy was one of them. In September 1965, she joined the Community Development Division as a Community Development Aid under Ms. Olive Sawyer.
Phase Three: Promotion and Progression
Seven years after working as a Community Development Aid, mummy was selected to go to the Selly Oak Collage Birmingham, England, to be trained in Social and Community work. This was in 1971-1972. On her return, she was appointed a Supervisory Aide for the Prime Minister Best Village Programme. It was in this position that she made her mark in promoting Tobago’s culture in Trinidad and Tobago. These were the days when Mt. Saint George, Pembroke, Charlotteville, Belle Garden, Parlatuvuer, Moriah, Goodwood, Black Rock and Patients Hill and others were outstanding in the Prime Minister’s Best Village Completion in Trinidad. Her work in this area of Tobago’s exposing culture was excellent and as she herself asserted, “It stretched me to the limit.”
Imagine having to be in Trinidad on the Wharves in Port-of-Spain to meet the various groups from Tobago as they came in at 4:00 a.m. in the morning and to arrange for them to go to Tembladora; co-ordinate their transportation etc., attend the concerts and return to the Wharves at 8:00 p.m. to see the groups return home, all of these being accomplished while “mining” six young children. She was indeed an extraordinary woman.
As is well-known in Trinidad and Tobago, to be promoted in the Public Service, you have to be in possession of a minimum of five GCE O’level subjects. She overheard a senior officer from Trinidad making a comment that the Community Development Aids would not be promoted unless they have five subjects. Who tell he to say that? Mummy never went to high school, so she began a series of study programmes under the tutelage of teachers like Mr. Mitchel in English and Dr. O.B. Charles in logic and in other subjects. The net result of which was the achievement of six O’level subjects.
She was appointed a Community Development Officer 1. She then went on to be appointed Youth Officer I, Community Development Officer II and finally Community Development Supervisor I – the post from which she retired.
In 1991, on her way to Black Rock Government School to give religious instruction, mummy got into an extremely serious accident. We felt that we were going to loose her. In fact, many people who saw her at the accident site and at the hospital said that she was not going to live. God however, had other ideas and with His help and the fantastic work done by the doctors and other hospital personnel, she was nursed back to health. She always told the story of seeing Jesus’ face at the hospital over her bed, and hearing Him say, “Lydia, remember that I died for you.” It was this, she said, that gave her the hope and the will to recover. The first place she went after her recovery was the Black Rock Government School.
Henry Paul ended the eulogy by presenting a list of many of her achievements:
- Served as chairman of Black Rock Women Group 1963 – 1965
- Executive member – Federation of Women’s League, Tobago Branch 1968 – 1988
- Welfare Officer – Tobago Red Cross Division 1968 – 1974
- Officer – Young Women’s Christian Association 1975 – 1979
- Officer – Mental Health Association Tobago 1970 – 1979
- Officer – Tobago Scouts Council 1979 – 1991
- Member – Friends of Family Planning 1986 – 1993
- Member of the Hospital Visiting Committee
- Member of the Tobago Council for the Handicapped Children 1968 –
- Member Deaf and Dumb School Committee 1992 – 1993
- Director Caribbean Hotels Development Company Ltd. Crown Reef 1979 – 1986
- Member Plymouth Carnival Committee 1973 – 1993
- Judge – Buccoo Goat Race Festival 1965 – 1992 (27yrs)
- Officer – St. John Ambulance Brigade
- Best Tutor YTEPP – Cycle 5 1992
- Recipient of the Humming Bird Gold Medal for Community Service 1993
- Commissioner of Affidavits 1993
- Justice of the Peace 1995
Teaching of adults in crafts: crochet, knitting, handwork, embroidery – 1950
Dressmaking – Black Rock, Calder Hall, Signal Hill, Patience Hill and Mt. Grace Women’s Groups
In 1986 because of her love for singing mummy founded the Fusionettes Charity Performing Choir. This choir lasted for 20 years until 2006 when a decision was taken to start with new members. Mummy gave a token of a special glass to every member in memory of the Fusionettes choir.
In my mothers own words, “Dr. Williams never rested until he succeeded in getting me to become a member of the PNM.” For 12 years she was a member of the PNM’s General Council. She also served as:
- Secretary, Tobago West Constituency 1979 – 1986
- Member of the Screening Committee
- Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee
- Member of the Education Committee
- Vice chairman, National Woman League Trinidad & Tobago
- PRO Tobago West Constituency
- She also contested the Tobago House of Assembly Elections in 1988.
- Black Rock Village Council – Award of Merit, 1987
- Women’s Federation of Trinidad and Tobago for Faithful and Devoted Service, 1988
- South Caribbean Conferences of S.D.A. Certificate of Recognition, 1991
- YTEPP Tutor of the Year Cycle 5, 1992
- Tobago Scout Council – Long Service Award
- PNM Party Group Tobago East Constituency 2002
- Mental Health Association – Award
- Ethiopian Orthodox Church – Certificate of Recognition
- Black Rock Village Council – National Meritorious Award for Community Service, 2002
- Prime Ministers Best Village Competition – Award for Devoted, Distinguished Service – Mayor’s Pin, 2002
- Mason Hall Village Council – Unselfish Commitments
- International Women’s Day – Award of Recognition of Outstanding Contribution in the field of Community Service
- Mother of the Year (Tobago) 2004
- National Award – Humming Bird Gold for Social and Devoted Community Service
Lydia Paul has certainly left her mark as a person who didn’t do “nothing” but who committed her life in service of others. She leaves behind husband Duke Paul; children Henry, Lennox, Richard, Godfrey, Suzanne and Learie; grand-children Leslie-Ann, Kevon, Kareem, Gabriella, Steffan, Sean, Shenellee, Shenell and Salisha; sisters Emelia Mills, Agnes Carrington, Eglah Comploi, Emlyn Glascow and Florence Isaac (deceased); brothers Edwin, Danny, Steve and Sam (deceased); nephews Clement, Carl, Roger, Stanley, Robert, Clyde, Wayne, Phillip, Paul, Leo and Andre; nieces Claudette, Angela, Arlene, Alicia, Marilyn, Rub, Delhia and Bernadine; in-laws Wayne Bryce, Isabel Paul, Dane Paul and Karen Paul; relatives Honourable Rennie Dumas, Joseph Dumas, Wayne Cruickshank, Pete, Eastlyn Lewis, Hazel Winchester, Demi-John, Wendy-Ann, Denise, Elsa and Donna Cruickshank, Margaret, Ivy Phillip, Carla Richards, Deon, Tricia, Claire, Oscar Mills, Calvin Isaac, the Guy, Allard, Carrington, Dumas, Mills, Glasgow and Adams families and many others.