Former Fatima College School principal Clive Pantin, back row third from left, poses with his siblings back row left Helen, Michael, Geoffrey, Monica and Patricia. They are joined by front row left, Rosa, Gerard, Ronald and Anthony.
The Pantin family from Woodbrook answered the call to “serve the people, serve the people, serve all of the people” of T&T. Service has never been an alien concept to the prominent Pantins who made positive inroads on the socio-economic landscape. The late Anthony Pantin was archbishop of the diocese of Port-of-Spain. Former Fatima College principal, Clive Pantin became Minister of Education. Fr Gerard Pantin founded Service Volunteered For All (Servol). Three doyennes among the Pantin clan epitomise the notion of service, volunteerism and humanitarianism. Ten siblings were born to late housewife Agnes and Julien Pantin, a managing director at the defunct Salvatori Scott Ltd. The union produced Gerard, Tony (late), Rose, Geoffrey (late), Clive, Monica, Ronald (late), Helen, Patricia and Michael. The Pantins’ matriarch Agnes was a “very religious woman” who took them to mass regularly at St Patrick’s RC Church, Maraval. The family remained steeped in Roman Catholicism. Rosa answered the call to join the nunnery with the Sisters of Cluny at St Joseph’s Convent.
Commenting on their calling, Clive Pantin said: “It was a gift from God. We enjoyed every minute of it. That was important. If you go into a job and you have reservations about it, don’t do it. You are not going to succeed.” Indeed, the Pantin clan have been a blessing. In 1995, Pastor Cecil Quamina paid kudos to them via letter to the editor when they were named Family of the Year. He said: “We can never repay the Pantins for the contribution they have made to our society.” Another gentleman Hollis Thomas realised the importance of Pantins’ vast contribution and compiled biographies on them. Sunday Guardian also salutes the Pantins’ sterling contribution.
Clive Pantin... Minister of Education— zenith of his career
With pompek Bella at his feet, former Fatima College principal, Clive Pantin takes a stroll in his garden at Woodbrook. Casting a cursory glance, a passerby might think he’s always lived a life of rest and relaxation; but Pantin, 77, has always been a hard worker. He left a legacy at Fatima College, Mucurapo and strengthened the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) during his tenure as Minister of Education. He was part of the ANR Robinson regime (1986 to 1991). On Monday, Pantin said his contribution as Minister of Education was the zenith of his career. Quizzed on his major accomplishment, Pantin said: “I would say my major role was as Minister of Education. I enjoyed it very much. When you are principal of a school you just see minor changes. But when you see all the schools combined that’s a very tough task. Minister of Education role is not an easy one.”
Pantin would pop in unannounced to get a first hand account of the inner workings of T&T’s schools.
“I liked going out to the different schools unannounced and just visiting them.” With a mischievous twinkle, he said: “There was a little panic when they saw I had arrived. But after a while they got a hold of my modus operandi.” Pantin explained his mission was not just to catch principals and teachers napping, but to get a deeper knowledge of the students’ needs. He firmly believed in the value of education as a catalyst for change and socioeconomic improvement. No school was forbidden. “I continued to visit schools particularly schools far away; in the deep West, deep East and deep South.”
Pantin was not a greenhorn. After all, he had spent 27 years as a Language (French and Spanish) and Religious Education teacher. He was principal for ten years. Patting himself on the back, he said: “Fatima became a first class school.”
The impact of Feel
After the crushing defeat of the NAR administration, Pantin founded Feel (Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life) in 1991. He and his team including the late Leoline Boxhill distributed hampers to about 120 Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from the massive warehouse owned by JB Fernandes at Laventille. “To my great surprise, he showed me this huge compound with every possibility of goodness about it. We decided to get the NGOs together. They were finding it difficult to continue the work. There were some who were really conscientious in their work.”
Each year, about 2,400 people received food and hampers. “People from the United States sent down a lot of stuff for us.”
About Clive Pantin
He was a fine athlete at St Mary’s College. He earned a BA degree at the University of (Dublin) Ireland and got a Diploma in Education at UWI Jamaica. Initially, he was studying for the priesthood. “You talk about prayers. I realised it was not for me. I had Anna in Jamaica.” He also married Patsy and fathered Bernard, David and Thomas. He has nine grandchildren. Quizzed on the secret to his longevity, he said: “Live a good life and drink apple...” On behalf of his siblings, Tom, an ex-Fatima boy, said: “We are all proud of him. We admire him. He is a shining example of a father.” He added: “One of the aspects of our house was our love for sport... love for English football and our love for Manchester United. It was like a tradition. We would be drinking beer. All the boys.” Pantin’s contemporary/retired St Augustine Senior Comprehensive principal Osmond “Slim” Downer said: “He played for St Mary’s. Then, he played for Casuals. Geoffrey Pantin also played for St Mary’s and Ronald played, too. He was in my time and I played for Casuals. At that time, Casuals and Shamrock were known as the “white people” team.” “But Pantin’s greatest contribution is education,” said the FIFA referees instructor.
Pantin on Pantins
Growing up in a huge family, Pantin described the experience as “wonderful.” His mother Agnes was a strict disciplinarian. “She was worse than any principal,” he said. It was a sad day when they put their father in the earth at Lapeyrouse Cemetery. “Michael... the last one was about a year when he died. His funeral was a huge traffic stopper. He had lots of friends.” Commenting on his siblings, he said: “Tony was the first to come in as a priest. He was always an accessible archbishop. “Oh, yes, we adored him. The only thing we didn’t do was go to confession. The best priest I could tell my sins, too. He would cheups if he felt it was a big sin. Tony was quite a guy.” “Gerard... he was the intellengentsia of the family. He won an island scholarship.” “Shortly after daddy died, Rosa told our mother she had this calling to be a nun. Agnes said: ‘Well, may God be with you, child.’” But his favourite sibling is Geoffrey, whom he described as his “real riding partner.” “I always remember the day we were going to school (Belmont Intermediate). He said: ‘I will tow you through the Savannah...next thing I know, the two of us found ourselves on the ground in a puddle. He said: “Boy, I slipped. Well, boy, I cuss Geoffrey.” For Christmas, the senior Pantin said: “I will be looking forward to turkey with stuffing.”
Source: Michelle Loubon and Malissa Lara-Patterson, Trinidad Guardian
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