Fonclaire Steel Orchestra Trinidad
Commonwealth Point of Light 220. Darren Sheppard
Darren Sheppard, representing Trinidad and Tobago, is a drummer who leads ‘Fonclaire Steel Orchestra’, a steelband which has helped teach music and run education programmes for over 1,000 children in schools in South Trinidad.
Darren has been a member of the orchestra for over 40 years, starting when he was a child, and has since founded numerous steel orchestras, both in Trinidad and Tobago and in Canada, where he has worked as a musician. Through ‘Fonclaire Steel Orchestra’, Darren and his network of volunteers aim to support under-resourced communities and use music to provide life-changing opportunities for new generations of young people. The orchestra has also recently set up a seniors programme teaching music to older people who turned to music as a form of therapy during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Harriet Cross, British High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, said:
“Darren is an admirable example of someone who works continuously to empower his community through his work with young people. Through his stewardship of the steelband Fonclaire, he has used Trinidad and Tobago’s steelpan music to inspire people, young and old, to improve themselves and excel beyond expectations. I am delighted that I will soon present Darren Sheppard with this honour on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. In addition to highlighting Darren’s work which drives positive change in San Fernando, I hope this award inspires people to dedicate themselves to improving their own communities and their country. I know many people are proud of Darren’s achievement and I wish him continued strength and success.”
“This award shines a light, not only on me, but on the magnificent power of Trinidad and Tobago’s steelpan music and the amazing community that gave birth to our steelband. I thank God for being the centre of my work and I thank Her Majesty The Queen for honouring me with this recognition. I finally thank sons Daniel and Dade for sharing me all their lives with so many others. Fonclaire Forever.”