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We learnt of the passing of a great Guyanese gentleman, Phillip Alsopp, this week departed this earthy plane to join the great majority in the other world.
Truly, we can sum up this tribute to a friend who possessed great engineering skills and the art of diplomacy by simply saying that ‘a cedar of Lebanon has fallen.’
I knew Phillip all my life growing up in Charles Street, Charlestown where he and his family lived in a delightful cottage immediately east of our yard next to our home. A simple fence dividing the two properties.
Phillip, his siblings, Richard and Bertie with their parents brought a level of dignity and sobriety to the hustle and bustle of Charlestown in those days.
Later, our paths coincided when he was Chief Works Officer, when I held the Ministerial portfolio of Works, Hydraulics and Supply.
It is there, my regard for Phillip grew tremendously.
It was soon recognized that the Ministry and the Government could rely absolutely on the advice and recommendations of Phillip Alsopp.
This was useful at a time when we were busy constructing or rehabilitating our roads along the coast even as we ventured to build hinterland roads and airstrips.
I can recall on no occasion that we had to regret any engineering advice given by this patriot Phillip Alsopp.
His virtue was that he also had a penchant for seeing things done on the ground and when it was agreed that we needed to have a convenient link between a location in the Upper Demerara River and a place on the Essequibo River, after examining available maps, etc., one early morning a team with support staff left Wismar on foot determined to find a location either on the eastern bank of Essequibo River or near to the Essequibo Bank as an accessible roadway to the Potaro and other parts of the Hinterland.
Four persons reached that point ahead of other members of the team. They were Phillip Alsopp, Parliamentary Secretary, the Late William Haynes, Photographer Sydney Qualis and myself.
To honour him, that important connecting spot was named Point Alsopp and a signboard was erected.
To talk about Phillip Alsopp could consume volumes.
I remember that he led a team that was seeking to identify quarry equipment to cope with a serious challenge we had, since the stone at Tiperu was unusually tough, and ordinary crushing equipment did not last long.
Recognizing his calm and competence, Philip was also identified to be an Ambassador.
We know that Guyana has lost a good Engineer, a reliable Professional and a decent, affable citizen.
To the entire family circle, on behalf of my wife, family and many who worked with him at the Ministry and benefitted from his knowledge, I tender condolences confident that he has gone to a good place.
Phillip could be uttering the words of Prophet Kahlil Gibran, “ I have passed a mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the Firmament of complete and unbound freedom: I am far, far away, my companions, and the clouds are hiding the hills from my eyes.”