Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 19th 2015 Contents BG16 COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 19 • 2015
The T&T Chamber of Industry and
Commerce hosted it s annual signature
Champions of Business gala on November
7, 2015, wherein we honoured, among oth-
ers, two icons of business namely Bernard
Dulal-Whiteway (posthumously) and
Oscar H Francois. Mere days later, we
were saddened to learn of the passing of
a former inductee to the Business Hall of
Fame: Thomas "Tommy" Gatcliffe.
Gatcliffe, who served as president of
the T&T Chamber in 1964, was made an
honorary member and, later on, in 2007,
inducted to the Business Hall of Fame.
This week, in his honour, we are pleased
to re-publish an edited version of his biog-
raphy as presented upon his induction.
Thomas Alexander was born in
Georgetown, Guyana in 1927
and his parents moved to
Trinidad in 1930. He was the
son of Harry Gatcliffe of Eng-
land and his wife Mildred neé
Massy, who was a direct descendant of Major
Charles Massy, a member of the invading
British forces in 1797, and his wife Rose Peschier
of the Paradise Sugar Estate, now known as
the Queen s Park Savannah.
He received his education at Queen s Royal
College where he obtained his higher school
certificate with distinctions in science in 1944
and became head prefect and sergeant major
of the Cadet Corps. He was also the open half
mile champion. After a brief spell acting as
zoology master, he entered McGill University
where he obtained an Honors degree in chem-
istry. He represented the University in judo
and was on the boxing team of his faculty.
In 1949, he completed an evening course
in industrial engineering at the university
whilst employed as a chemist with Shell Oil
Company of Canada.
In 1951, he was awarded an International
Fellowship to spend six months in the USA
to study industrial fermentation and distillation,
and in 1963 completed a course in business
administration at Indiana University, and later
on the advanced training programme in busi-
ness administration at the Massachusetts Insti-
tute of Technology.
He was a member of several professional
societies, including the Royal Institute of
Chemistry, the American Chemical Society
and the Institute of Directors. He has served
on a number of governmental committees,
including the Hobson Committee on Indus-
trialisation in 1957, and was for six years a
member of the board of the T&T Industrial
Development Corporation. He was the leader
of the first IDC Investment mission to the
United States in September 1963, and has been
a member of several trade missions, including
the 1967 delegation of the Incorporated Cham-
ber of Industry and Commerce of the Com-
monwealth Caribbean, under the leadership
of Sir Garnet Gordon, to the Heads of Gov-
ernments Meeting in the region. The delegation
promoted the need for an early move to free
trade throughout the region.
In 1965, together with the Mayor of San
Fernando, Errol Mahabir, he was elected one
of the two most outstanding young men of
He has been described as "the T&T busi-
nessman who has had more influence than
most other members of the industrial and
commercial community", having been involved
in three key public sector entities during the
late 70 s and early 80 s---the National Advisory
Council of T&T, Dr Eric Williams "think
tank"; the National Energy Corporation and
the International Marketing Corporation---
despite being a critic of the Trinidad govern-
ment. He reasoned: "If you have a chance to
influence policy and you don t take it, there
by failing to communicate your views, you
have no right to criticize afterwards."
From 1971 to 1976 he was a senator in the
Parliament of T&T.
Tommy Gatcliffe has held directorships,
chairmanships and vice chairmanships, and
board memberships of several companies
including Trinidad Distillers Ltd, West Indies
Stockbrokers Ltd, Trinidad Broadcasting Ltd,
Trinidad Express Newspaper Ltd, Bank of
Commerce T&T Ltd, Neal and Massy Holdings
Ltd, Fernandes Distillers Ltd and Guardian
Life, to list but a few. He is also a past director
of the Caribbean Association of Industry and
Commerce and past chairman of the West
Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association.
He is a past president of the T&T Chamber
of Industry and Commerce and was vice--
chairman of the T&T Committee for Economic
Development. In 1979, he received the Cha-
conia Medal (Gold) for service to the nation
in the field of business development.
But, the organisation with which the name
Thomas A Gatcliffe is most synonymous is
Angostura Ltd. It was under his astute lead-
ership, as the first non-member of the Siegert
family to be put in charge of the company,
that Angostura would emerge as a local giant
and an international heavyweight.
Under his guidance Angostura won the
Export Performance Trophy (1972) and the
Exporter of the Year Prime Minister Awards
1997 and 1998. In 1985, Angostura was award-
ed the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) for its con-
tribution to industry, and received in 1995, its
ISO 9002 Certification, the first distillery in
the Caribbean to achieve such a distinction.
He devoted over 50 years of his life to devel-
oping not only Angostura, but also to making
a significant contribution to the development
of our country and its people, its governmental
processes and its growing maturity in the
administration of its affairs, particularly in the
economic and fiscal field.
Above and beyond these public achieve-
ments, he was truly a very humble and ded-
icated family man and has been a devoted and
loving husband to wife Rhona and father to
his three children, David, Patricia and Margaret.
A keen sailor, he bought St Ignatius Bay on
Gasparee Island in 1997 and spent much time
there, surrounded by his family, siblings, grand
and great grand children and close friends.
Tommy was also an accomplished jazz pianist
and his signature number was "Smoke gets
in your Eyes."
Many men go through a lifetime as good
people, without making a significant change
or contribution to the lives of those around
Tommy was undoubtedly a good man, but
he has also improved the lives and prospects
of a very great number of people, both inside
Angostura and within the country and region
generally. His working life was one of achieve-
ment allied with a humility and courtesy which
was rare in a person of achievements, and the
standards of behaviour which he set, not only
for himself, but for everyone working with
him, were quite remarkable.
In the coming two weeks, the T&T Cham-
ber will share the biographies of its 2015
inductees to the Business Hall of Fame.
Remembering Tommy Gatcliffe
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
THOMAS "TOMMY" GATCLIFFE
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