Veronica Collens 1943-2006
“To live in the hearts of those you loved is not to die.”
Veronica said good bye from our home in Cascade, Trinidad, at 12.20 pm on Saturday 04 March 2006.
She was fighting cancer for two years and more recently became terminally ill with other complications. We loved our partner, wife and mother, very much and will miss her. It is going to be hard to achieve many of our plans and programmes with out her skills, energy and imagination.
As with all the many organisations and associations with which Veronica was involved, CARIBSCAPE Web Design, the Family Planning Association (FPATT) and the National Drama Association (NDATT) to name just a few, she was also committed to Humanist thinking. As a founding member of the newly formed T&T Humanist Association, she looked forward to being part of its development in Trinidad & Tobago.
Veronica will be remembered by many organisations and people, with whom she was involved, for her commitment to excellence, and her pursuit of both rational and compassionate thinking.
We said good bye to Veronica with a cremation on Thursday 09 March 2006. Her three sons, Steve, Dan and Kirk, and I were joined by a few close relatives. I had the opportunity to assure her sons of Veronica's complete love for them, and also, assured them that she knew how she was loved by them. We then talked about her quietly for a while and laid a rose bud each on her for her journey. There is no doubt that it was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do.
The same day we hosted a reception at home for many others who wished to say good bye and be reconciled with a collective loss. The event was a celebration of Veronica's life and ideas. Over 50 years of photographs were replayed on a wide screen for all to review the many other sides of her life they had never seen. The exhibition of Veronica's work, skills and talent, on display included:
- "Synopsis" - In house magazine for Ogilvy, Benson & Mather (OB&M) (UK) - Editor 1973-1976
- "Trinity in Touch" - Trinity College magazine (TT) - Editor and volunteer teacher 1990-1994
- "Backstage" - National Drama Association of T&T magazine (TT) - Editor and layout 1995-2003
- "FingerTalk" - Learning tool for students and teachers in typing and computer keyboarding (TT) - 1998
- "Tales From The Bar Side" - Short stories of managing a pub in Surbiton, Surrey, England (1976-1980) from real experiences (UK) - 2005
Art & Design...
- "Caribbean Bouquets" - Complete photographic record of commissioned floral artwork (TT) - Artist 1986-1991
- Expo90 - Photographic record of award wining exposition booth for "Huggies" (TT) - Co-Designer 1990
- Lyrics for songs performed by "Shane & Veronica" (UK) and "Equator" (TT) - Singer/Song Writer 1979-1995
We are also hosting a celebration of Veronica's life at Teddington, Middlesex, England on Saturday 08 July 2006. For more details please "Contact…"
Twenty five years ago to this month (May 2006) Veronica was the PRO/Communications Officer for the Family Planning Association of Trinidad & Tobago (FPATT). Whilst immersing herself in the hard work of devising programmes to help young people avoid unplanned parenthood and spread of sexually transmitted diseases she was also preparing the FPATT for their 25th anniversary celebrations. This year FPATT celebrate their 50th year in operation and will be honouring Veronica.
Ten years ago this month Veronica was preparing the National Drama Association for the first Cacique Awards ceremony with the "glitz" and voting procedures in the format we know it today. In 1990 she received a Cacique Award herself in appreciation for the management skills, research and creativity, she contributed to the development of the NDATT Secretariat. Veronica remains to date the only non-practitioner to have received a Cacique Award.
Also, in May 2006 the Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association held their second in a series of open forum lectures, debates and panel discussions. This event was entitled "Sex education saves lives" and was a panel discussion in Veronica's honour. The correlation of the lack of a comprehensive sex education at early school level and child abuse was part of her focus in her group discussions.
All the above was on top of her private family life of creativity in support of her children in their activities whilst growing up.
“To live in the hearts of those you loved is not to die,” wrote Erline Andrews in her column "Facing Death" as a tribute to Veronica Collens in the Trinidad Express Women's Magazine, 30 April 2006.
Humanitarian, Humanist, Human
Veronica had already embraced humanist thinking a long time before discovering the term. Humanist because of the real practical and sustainable nature with which she encouraged and counselled some of us, individuals and associations, to furthering our own development and understand our equally important contribution to the plot, despite the traditional and less enlightened educational system most of us have experienced.
No better evidence of this, and I know they will agree, is her own three sons, Steve, Dan and Kirk, who have clearly benefited from a climate of encouragement and space, reason and support, rather than that of criticism and restriction, rules and competition. And, if Veronica was still on the team her energy would be directed in the area of the rights of young people, the responsibility of society as "custodians" and the futility of the current "punishment" regime that prevails in both education and law.
Her life was and is impressive.
Amidst her work I attached a note to a dozen roses:
- Good bye my partner, good bye my wife
- Good bye Kirk's mother, good bye my life
- Good bye my lover, good bye my friend
- Veronica my mate