Ken Kelshall

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The life of Kenneth Albert Trevor Kelshall, M.O.M. - born 29 November 1914 - died March 9, 2001- was celebrated at a most simple and beautiful service at the Tranquillity Methodist Church on Thursday March 15, 2001.

Tricia-Lee Kelshall's solo "Amazing Grace"; John Hamel-Smith had never met the deceased but on learning of his love for the mouth organ played a solo "Hear O Lord"; the soulful scout farewell of "Taps" trumpeted by Scout Leader Adrian Lee; and Gaylord Kelshall's stirring eulogy on the life of his Uncle Ken, whom he described as "A Man of Many Parts", were all fitting tribute to a simple man whose life had been so well lived.

Ken Kelshall was born in San Fernando, the youngest son of the Honourable Thomas or T.M. Kelshall and his wife Jessie. He attended Naparima College, first as a pupil and then as a young teacher during which time he taught English to former President Noor Hassanali. In the south, Kelshall was first a Cub and then a Scout at Sixth Naparima troop. On leaving south to join the Civil Service in Port of Spain, his scouting continued with the Fifth Port of Spain troop.

Already precepted as a Rural Constable at the start of World War Two, Kelshall joined the Special Reserve Police as an officer and was able to combine his police work and scouting to achieve a remarkable product.

In a report written for the War Office at the end of the war, it is shown that Kelshall, a District Officer of the Civil Defence, an officer of the SRP's and scout master, combined all three functions to engage the Senior Scouts in police wartime work by organising them into a protective guard force for the Port of Spain Survivors Camp. The group did this so well that many of the older scouts were precepted and formed into an anti-crime squad to patrol the streets of Port of Spain at night thereby freeing up the police to concentrate on other matters. The report specifically credits Ken "with this successful innovation." He was awarded the Boy Scout Medal of Merit and went on to manage the Scout Shop for twelve years.

Kenneth married Florrie Taylor, a well known national hockey player and administrator, and this union which lasted for 57 1/2 years produced three daughters, Kay, Joy and Kim, and six grandchildren. This very conservative man rose to the position of Head of the Tenders Board and Director of Contracts, as a civil servant. And in his retirement was the late Prime Minister George Chambers' choice as Chairman of The National Lotteries Board "because he was a man of integrity." Eventually he was honoured with the Medal of Merit of the Order of the Trinity for service to Trinidad and Tobago.

Eulogized by his nephew as "a private man, tolerant and indeed sometimes too tolerant man, a role model of a man and leader" Ken was an avid sportsman who loved cricket. He was captain of three cricket teams during the same period of time, and managed to play as captain in three matches in one weekend, in three separate tournaments. He was also interested in tennis. And was also a handyman par excellence who believed that everything in a workshop had its place.

But Ken's greatest love was music. He loved and also made music playing the Harmonica in Yvonne Burnett's band and realising that a harmonica could not be heard above the sound of drums, guitars and horns, fitted his instrument with an amplifier so that he would be heard. When all of the above was combined with his love of books, said his nephew "Kenneth was a contented man. They say that he never lost his temper. I never saw him lose his temper, no matter how exasperated he became. Perhaps, this was because Kenneth Kelshall had a tremendous sense of humour and could always see the funny side of a situation. His humour was infectious, yet he was never loud or raucus, but you knew when he was amused and this put everyone he ever knew at ease."

"Every person is indeed two people, the person you think you are and the person other people see you as. The gulf between these two is sometimes enormous." said Gaylord Kelshall "but with Kenneth there was only a very small space. He lived his life honestly and he was the great man that we know he was."

 


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