Sunday 20th November 2016
Fr. Gerry Pantin, who unbeknown to many, has left an indelible print on his Alma Mater in the arena of sport. To the nation he is well known as the founder of that wonderful movement SERVOL for which he was awarded the nation’s highest honour, the Trinity Cross, as it was at that time. But today we remember, alas much too belatedly, his great contribution to St. Mary’s in the field of sport.
In 1960 Fr. Gerry was appointed games master soon after assuming his teaching post at St. Mary’s a year earlier. He had returned to his Alma Mater with great expectations placed on his shoulders for during his student years he excelled at everything to which he directed his energies. In 1947 he culminated that excellence in winning the Jerningham Gold Medal, the acme of secondary school academic achievement, having claimed the Open Science scholarship. Quite extraordinarily, in that same year, he scored two of the goals in the replay of the Intercol final vs QRC which CIC won 3-1, for the fifth successive year! Those were golden years, far removed from the memories of many, and unknown to most in these times.
As games master Fr. Gerry set about expanding and improving the college’s sports facilities here at St. James. The two focal points of the improvement were firstly, the providing of necessary playing space for the senior students who for more than 30 years had to make use of the savannah, and secondly, the old pavilion located over there to the west was in need of extreme repairs, repairs that would have cost a considerable sum of money. In stepped Fr. Gerry with his advisers: “Why not spend some more money, build a new pavilion in a different location, and by levelling the area formerly occupied by the old structure, provide our Senior boys with a full- size playing field within the enclosure of St. James?” And so it was! That brilliant mind was furiously ticking!
Work began on the pavilion in October 1963 and on Sunday 26th January 1964 at 9:00 a.m. the new pavilion was blessed and officially opened. At that same time “Project Turf Wicket” had also been completed, thanks to the services of Edgar “Man” Borde who had a short time before produced the first turf wicket at the Queen’s Park Oval.
But visionary that he was, Fr. Gerry looked even farther into the future and commissioned the building of a 25-metre pool a year later. On Thursday 30th September 1965 the new pool was blessed and immediately became a veritable centre of swimming and water-polo in Trinidad.
In less than six years then, Fr. Gerry Pantin had amazingly managed to revolutionize sports at St. Mary’s. Hence our purpose today of happily commissioning the pavilion in his name, to be forever a reminder of his memorable contribution to St. Mary’s College and the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, in the service of sport.
We salute our outstanding alumnus, Fr. Gerry Pantin!
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