Tribute to my Father

He was a mischievous character sometimes; so when he saw this sign he absolutely wanted a photo. Funny thing- this description described him pretty closely!

We celebrated our Annual Mass for the Relatives and Friends of Trinidad and Tobago and other West Indian islands this last Sunday. It was a very successful day despite the rain. The following is a tribute to my father.

“Thank you to you all for coming, both old and new friends!

I especially thank Fr Paul Stenhouse for being an unwavering and steadfast friend of the relatives and friends of Trinidad and Tobago and other West Indian islands. We have friends from Jamaica and Guyana who join us today.

This celebration was the brainchild of my father Bruce McLeod. He originally organised the first Mass for Trinidad and Tobago about twenty-eight years ago. The Mass was held in Pymble at the old Catholic Church where we were joined by many expats. In preparing for today, I recently saw some of the photos from that time and recognise some of you who are here today.

My father loved Trinidad. He met my mother Odette there and they spent many years there bringing up my brother John and me. Dad spent over 25 years in Trinidad.

Even when he returned to Australia, he never forgot his love for the many friends he made there. He was a prolific writer and would often telephone his friends who included President Ellis Clarke; many Ministers from both sides of politics; many religious leaders and clergy; doctors and lawyers and celebrities and many working class people. My Dad was a person who would mingle with kings and paupers and feel equally at ease.

Many of you may not be aware that my Dad was the person who founded the Carols in the Park in Trinidad and subsequently among the islands of the Caribbean region.

My parents opened the first antique shop in the West Indies which was often touted as the best antique shop in the West Indies.

My Dad donated numerous artefacts to the Museum in Port of Spain and most of the time he was noted as “anonymous “.

In many ways, he was a generous man. He was always fair with those who had business dealings with him.

Dad and I shared dinner with West Indians long before there was a society. Some people have commented that they never see me at the other Trinidad/West Indian events. I – like my Dad don’t really enjoy parties and dances. In fact, we aren’t very good at it; but my Dad loved his family and friends. He loved the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and he enjoyed our Annual Mass which celebrated that fact.

I know that my father Bruce shared a friendship with Fr Paul for many years. They talked about religion and objects de arts; world news and politics. They were both scholars who enjoyed each other’s company, and I am happy that the friendship meant enough to Fr Paul that he has invited us to this beautiful place of worship time and time again. To what is essentially his home we are able to worship in our own way and share a meal in his garden where he has often joined us to talk among other subjects – cricket!

So, once again Fr Paul on behalf of my mother Odette and my brother John, thank you for your generosity towards my father and our family and to friends who come back again and again to join us in our celebration, and hope that you will allow us to continue the tradition which my Dad began.”