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Tuesday 21 May 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Heartfelt memories of Richard Saunders

THE EDITOR: On behalf of MEMSA, Macqueripe Early Morning Swimmers’ Association, I offer reminisces and reflections on the times we shared with Richard Malcolm Saunders.

His was a life that encompassed leadership involvement in assorted business, professional, academic and social circles.

We in MEMSA retain heartfelt memories, and remain appreciative of the slice of his life that fate so generously served to us.

He was a founding member, first secretary, and later president, of MEMSA.

MEMSA has been a rare, and maybe unique, fellowship whose common orientation is a commitment to swim at Macqueripe on Sunday mornings.

We have also gained recognition by the Chaguaramas Development Authority as an activist representative organisation pursuing the interest of the upkeep and improvement of facilities in and around Macqueripe.

Following the Sunday morning plunge-and-splash, we assemble upstairs Under the Almonds for free-speech exchanges entailing shared ole-talk entertainment and also covering a range of public affairs.

On occasions, we have an expert guest speaker addressing health and other concerns.

Also, on the last Sunday of each month, we hold what we call a “communal breakfass” to which all members contribute dishes or drinks, or both.

With endless appreciation, we will recall Richard’s initiatives in organising Under the Almonds annual Merit Award ceremonies.

Members received medals for Best Swimmer, Most Disciplined Swimmer, Most Improved Swimmer, Most Outstanding Member of the Year, and Most Committed Member. On his own private account, Richard organised and produced those events.

He was also the driving force behind MEMSA’s participation in the Group of Professional Associations’ Professional Culinary Classics Champions toward a Cause. It was an event held under the patronage of then president George Maxwell Richards. MEMSA once gained positive media attention for our cooks’ inventive production and service of satirically titled dishes such as “Warner’s Oxtail Dilemma” and “Kamla’s Curry Duck.”

After his unhappy demise, I have seen Richard classified in a newspaper report as one of the Macqueripe “elderly” who swim “far out.”

Between the lines of that report can be read an attitude of disapproval of over-age adventurism, or even recklessness. This is a reputation we disclaim.

Safety devices, including flippers, flotation belts and lifeguard tanks, have long been standard equipment for our swimming. We have observed a growing number of non-MEMSA swimmers following our example.

For the record, Richard, as always, entered the water that Sunday having made sure adequately to provide himself with elements of the swimming safety kit.

“Elderly” suffices to describe the average age of the MEMSA sodality. I can’t say “fraternity” out of respect and recognition for the women who are members, and or affiliated swimmers in the preciously clean waters of Macqueripe, graced by the surrounding splendour of Chaguaramas greenery.

Yes, ours is a sodality. I have long said there are Macqueripe people, such as those in MEMSA, who are drawn with almost religious regularity to the place. And there are other people.

To the end, Richard Saunders counted among the Macqueripe faithful. Fittingly, his last hours were marked by an exemplary response from the army medical personnel who happened to be present, and the ambulance staff and police escort. To them go the thanks of MEMSA and all of the Macqueripe Sunday morning community, now in mourning.

Let us also register our sincere sentiments of solidarity with others – colleagues, friends and associates – affected by his loss. We address special commiseration to his daughter Rica Marie, and his partner, Simone Edwards.

May Richard Saunders rest in peace.

LENNOX GRANT

president, MEMSA

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