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Noor Hassanali (1918-2006)

Chilo was, without a doubt, the most popular president in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, and was perhaps the most well-respected national figure. As a country there’s a void to be filled. But it is as an individual that I feel the loss most.

There was always something about him that set him apart – a sense of nobility, a sense of being an honourable person, a good person. He was always friendly, always made you feel important. I admired him more than anyone else I have ever met. It was more than the fact that he was family – I think I would have admired him equally if he were a stranger. I always said that being related to the President in no way reflected on me – after all, I did nothing but be born. But knowing a person who was good and honourable, knowing a person who, it seemed, saw the good in people and did his best to do what was right – that was important to me. Long before he was the President he was someone in the family to look up to.

It’s been a long time since I saw him. His health has been in decline for a long time. At 88 it’s likely that he was the longest-lived person in the family – ever. But while it wasn’t a surprise, it was a shock. There was a comfort in knowing he existed. It’s a shock to know he’s gone.

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