“It gives so much satisfaction after working hard for five days a week to give up the weekends to go into a community and bend the back to mark a traffic sign on the road or paint a building…The satisfaction comes when you see people benefit from what you have done…I want to be remembered for the little contributions that I have been pleased to give.”
By Gary Eleazar
A patriot is described as a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
And so it is that in the annals of Guyana’s history and the list of patriots that would be compiled, sports administrator/athlete/broadcaster/public relations’ consultant/Rotarian/social worker Terence Ormonde Holder, could well find himself among the forerunners.
Born in Skeldon, Corentyne, on August 27, 1940, Terry, as he is familiarly referred to, spent his first few years in his hometown and then moved to the Capital City, specifically Queenstown, where he commenced his pursuit of education first at Moravian Primary.
Those were the days when a child would be allowed to change schools as easily as that child’s place of abode changed, so when Terry and his family moved to Regent Road, Bourda, he was transferred to St Stephen’s Primary in Princes St and when his family relocated to Bent Street he consequently found himself attending the Dolphin Government School which was called the Broad Street Government School in those days.
Despite the constant change of locality, a disciplined nature, shaped by his father Cecil and mother Claudine, saw Terry excel in the academic field to the extent that enabled him to secure a coveted Scholarship to the nation’s premier secondary institution Queen’s College (QC) in 1952.
A coveted scholarship given, that those were the days when the average man found it extremely difficult to pay the fees associated with attending the elite school which was and still is, noted for churning out leaders and persons that have left an indelible mark both locally and overseas.
Terry reminisced that his batch was not bad at all in that, he graduated in the company of highly accomplished and renowned individuals such as Dr Walter Rodney, Dr Walter Ramsahoye, Ewart Thomas who is now a professor at Stanford University in the United States, Vic Insanally who was extremely good at languages, J.P. Croal who was an excellent scholar, Professor Winston McGowan and Alvin Thompson among others.
Giving credit where credit is due, Terry opines that there is no one institution that has contributed more than QC to his development.
He noted, that the administrators of the school were people who encouraged a rounded person, “not the bookworm, but persons who could do well academically and yet understood the importance of sport and the importance of mixing with people… and that helps you in life.”
From as early as he could remember, Terry recounted that he has always been an ardent lover of sports and participated at a high level in a number of disciplines, particularly athletics (sprinting), football, cricket and table tennis. And there were many others.
He concedes however that table tennis was his favourite.
Emphasising the part that sport played in those days, Terry stated that, “After school we played games incessantly…there was no opportunity for grass on the field to grow.”
He recalled that QC was a place that rewarded outstanding athletes with a special tie (with colours) different from that which was worn by the student populace. And he earned that privilege. “I was able to earn colours in athletics and table tennis.”
Terry recalled in the year he graduated (1960) there was the annual triangular tournament between Queen’s College of Guyana, Queens Royal College of Trinidad and the Lodge School of Barbados, and in the event that the latter school did not compete, Barbados’ Harrison College would participate
“I was a part of the team…I played in football, cricket and athletics and it was a good opportunity to meet with people.”
He said that sports allowed him to meet people with whom he shared longstanding friendships
Recalling that competition Terry said, “I remember we had to play on this wet wicket and I was stumped by Deryck Murray (former West Indies wicketkeeper) who was playing for the Queen’s Royal College, and I always tell him I was his first international wicket.”
“I ran against Wendell Motley who ended up getting a silver and a bronze medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.”
“I played football and scored against Lincoln Phillips…He became the best goal keeper in Trinidad, if not the best ever in the region, but he was excellent ever since he was in school.”
“I remain good friends with David Simmons who ran against me in the 200 metres sprint. He is now the Chief Justice of Barbados…the friendships have been long lasting, that is why there needs to be more interaction with young people across the region so it could help deepen the whole process of CARICOM and its integration.
According to Terry, it was what sports did for him as a person, particularly his social life, which has caused him to remain so committed to its continued development.
The proud father of four – three girls and a boy – served on the National Sports Council as well as being an executive member of the Guyana Table Tennis Association, and has left no stone unturned in terms of doing all that he could to develop sport in Guyana. “It is an undying love…a passion that has caused me to remain active in sports.”
Holder was part of the Guyana contingent that traveled to Beijing, China, in 1973 – he was with the table tennis team – to participate in the first Asia, Africa and Latin American Nations Invitational Tournament.
The team included stars such as Garth Isaacs, Dudley Thomas, Mike Baptiste, Denise Osmond, Doreen Chow-wah and Carol Davidson among others.
“We played against countries like Japan and China…We did not realistically have a chance of winning the tournament, but here again it was participating against the best in the world and an opportunity to make friends…Sport to my mind is the finest opportunity to bring people together.”
Apart from his administrative/ambassadorial duties representing Guyana at sport in various parts of the world, Terry believes his more meaningful contributions to his country, was when he joined the civil service.
According to him, when he was leaving school all of his colleagues were firm in their career choices such as doctors, lawyers, engineers among other high profile professions, but his calling was to serve his country in the civil service.
So when he applied for and was offered a job at the then Guyana Information Service he was ecstatic.
Terry noted that he was fortunate to join the media at a time when the Chief Information Officer was A.J. Seymour who established himself as a poet laureate and like Martin Carter, was one of the foremost authors, writers and thinkers.
Seymour had as his deputy Lloyd Searwar and then principal information officer Celeste Dolphin
He credited his understanding of the role of the media and his subsequent contributions in that field to persons such as the likes of Billy Carto, Henry Josiah, Hugh Cholmondeley, Sir Ronald ‘Ron’ Sanders, Vic Insanally and Carlton James among others.
“They were a set of persons who were masters of the media and they took me under their wings…they had the slogan always on the wall “be informed”, suggesting that you keep on reading and be informed.
He recalled that in 1968 when the Government took over and acquired what would be Guyana Broadcasting Service he was Programme Director when it first took to the airwaves on October 1, 1968.
“I remember us working tirelessly putting things in place to get the new station started out of its Hadfield Street, Lodge location.”
He pointed that interaction was recognized as the key to success. “We found that broadcasters spoke to the audience and we were changing that, we were talking with the audience…We started things like Action Line, where the people could call in…We started ‘Man in the Street’ to let people have their views heard. The rest is history”
Holder was also one of the members of the media fraternity credited with the formation of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, which was inaugurated in Guyana in November 1970 at a then spanking new Pegasus Hotel.
“CBU grew out of a meeting that was held in Jamaica in 1969…I was so fortunate to be invited to be there along with Hugh Cholmondeley and meet with a number of professional broadcasters…we got together and planned the formation of the CBU.”
In 1980, while general manager of the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation he was elected president of the CBU where he fought for betterment of the media fraternity in Guyana as well as sister states in the region.
Between April 1988 and November 1992, he served as Secretary-General of the CBU. “It was an exciting job, ours was the responsibility to increase the Caribbean content of broadcasting stations throughout the region… it meant sharing information. Guyana was allowed to be featured throughout the Caribbean through the setting up of a weekly programme called Caribscope.”
That programme saw others being created by each of the sister countries and aired throughout the region.
Guyanese are ardent cricket lovers and it is not unusual to see groups of persons sitting/standing around a television, no matter how small, to witness one of our cricketing superstars smashing a four or six, and for this they can be thankful for the role that Terry and others played in making that a reality.
“Being Secretary-General of the CBU…. my own interest and you had people like Ian McDonald wondering, why it is we could not get cricket when it was being played in the region, why it could not be transmitted.”
He noted than an opportunity presented itself when Kapil Dev had formed a company called ‘Dev Features’ and wanted footage of the Indian tour of the West Indies of 1989.
He recounted that a team was assembled and, “we got some persons from the UK, we had Mohinder Amarnath and Sir Garfield Sobers do the commentary. We were able to record the day’s play and someone was in the studio editing, we went to Barbados and sent the 45-minute tape to India and to other territories in region…The very next year we negotiated with Trans World International for the rights to broadcast the England tour and since then they have been doing that.”
Terry informed, that he had the opportunity to demand that regional cameramen could do the job at hand and there was no need to bring a camera crew and this commenced in 1990.
He added that he was able to insist then that, “our cameramen be treated with the same privileges as the players, they must stay in the same five- or four-star hotels.”
In 1992, following his stint in Barbados with the CBU, when he was asked to come home to Guyana and work with the new telephone company (Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company) he said, he was unsure given that, he had never worked in the private sector before.
However, he was convinced that he would be given the opportunity to help develop an embarrassing telephone system that was essentially the laughing stock of the region.
“I understood, because I lived here in the time when you had to book a call with the operator…people used to laugh at our system at one time.”
When asked how he would like to be remembered in the annals of history, Terry was humble in his response, “I would like to be remembered as someone who has tried to put community first…I have been in organizations that have helped me to see how to work with people in communities and make a difference in their lives.”
He drew reference to his 25 years in the Rotary Club of Guyana, which allows him to assist people in need.
“It gives so much satisfaction after working hard five days a week to give up the weekends to go into a community and bend the back to mark a traffic sign on the road or paint a building…The satisfaction comes when you see people benefit from what you have done…I want to be remembered for the little contributions that I have been pleased to give.”
Terry also recalled the time when Independence was looming and the team of dedicated workers at GIS saw it as their bounden duty to enlighten the nation as what exactly independence meant to us.
Lord Canary on Independence aptly illustrates the role of every citizen in the pieces of social commentary, “we got to be prepared to paddle our own canoe.”
The point was raised given the lack of will by some who only seek to ponder on the negatives in the country and migrating with the promise of returning when things get better.
Terry believes it is incumbent on all to play their role in the development of Guyana and all those that have already left should return and help to develop the country.
“Having been part of the system of convincing people I have absolved some of that.”
He recalled when he was asked to return to Guyana to work, some people could not understand why, “I would want to leave Barbados and come back home to work…I believe that this is a great country…we each have our part to play in its development.”
He concluded that, “people have to understand that in Guyana we have a peculiar situation in that, people say they will come back when Guyana is developed…this is a dilemma and we have got to convince people otherwise.”
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