Dr.Jean Ramjohn-Richards

Our Sister - The First Lady
by Ian "Bunny" Ramjohn and Rolph Ramjohn

Before she ever was Her Excellency, Dr.Jean Ramjohn-Richards, First Lady of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago or even Dr. Jean Ramjohn, she was our younger sister Jean.

She grew up as any other bright young girl in San Fernando. Our parents sent her first to Grant School and then to San Fernando Government. Even from that young age Jean began to display the character and academic brilliance that would guide her accomplishments in later life.

When she wrote the Government Exhibition she placed second among the girls and ninth over all. This meant that she was entitled to free secondary education at a school of her choice. Incidentally, but unrelated at the time, a young San Fernando boy had also done extremely well at the Government Exhibition a few years before and he was attending Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain. His name was Max Richards.

Jean also wanted to go to school in Port of Spain. She argued that since she was going to become a doctor and none of the girls’ schools in San Fernando did science, Port of Spain was the place for her to go to school. But our father told her that he was so pleased that her choice was Naparima Girls’ High School. Our father drove a 1929 Willys Knight, at the time the oldest car in San Fernando. Jean did not like our father to come to pick her up in his ‘’old car’’ which was really an antique.

After High School, Jean went to Naparima College to write her Higher Certificate Examination and was there for the historic event in 1953 – Naparima’s first victory over Presentation College. She got to know Carl Osborne and would later recall that Carl was the heartthrob of all the HC girls.

Because of the way our house was constructed we could be in our gallery and liming on the street at the same time. Jean would take advantage of this to see the boys as they made their way from the football games.

After the second drawn intercol match in 1953, Carl and some of the Naparima tean members chose our gallery to sit and plan for the next game. While the players were firm in most positions it was at center forward that we were having trouble. Jean was around as we debated between Lance Moore and George Ballah who got the nod and scored the winning goal.

Jean joined us in celebrating that memorable victory. She took the bus trip to Port of Spain in the bus with Carl and the rest of the team and supporters when we went to meet St.Mary’s.

Jean was always a supporter of local culture and the arts. She loved music and became a very good pianist. But Jean really loved carnival and wanted to play mass. But our father’s ideas on young women’s involvement in carnival, and especially his daughter’s were as modern as the 1929 Villys Knight he drove. Jean had to wait until she returned from her studies abroad as Dr. Jean Ramjohn, before she could fulfill her desire to play mass, an activity which she still enjoys today.

Jean was and still is an ardent sports fan with her enthusiasm for football being second only to that for cricket.

When Fred told us that The Val Turton/Carl Osborne Foundation was thinking of asking her to be its Patron, we encouraged him to make the approach, since we knew that she would have found it extremely difficult to refuse.

We take this opportunity to congratulate our sister, Her Excellency Dr. Jean Ramjohn-Richards, First Lady of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for becoming Patron of The Val Turton/Carl Osborne Foundation. Val Turton she knew, but Carl Osborne she knew well.

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