I didn’t know him very well. Sheppy told me he first came to the band in ’82 to play for Panorama. So he would have played four of my arrangements; Pan Explosion, Rebecca, Lucy and Pan in Danger. By ’85 he was already coming into the band’s spotlight at the same time my light was fading. But my visits to the panyard subsequently would have presented the opportunity for greetings and casual conversation. He struck me as a quiet, confident, decent person who was very comfortable in his own skin and in the expanded space our band provided. The many times our paths crossed he was always ready to acknowledge my presence and contribution.
It is with surprise and sadness in his passing that I now must acknowledge his presence in and invaluable contribution to the many successes Fonclaire has achieved during his many years of service. Panman extraordinaire is a title fitting both to his command of the instrument he played, the High Tenor, and his ability to play all genres of music with acoustic alacrity. In this respect, the Panorama and Stageside Frontline over the last 35 years would have been missing a key ingredient and lynchpin if he wasn’t there. Add to this the service he provided as Vice Captain in terms of planning and organizing the resources of the band for performances and other events, quite apart from practice sessions.
To me, his loyalty and dedication was demonstrated in the beginning by his desire to always show up at Dottin Street for Panorama practice sessions every year, when others of like calibre would hire out their abilities to competing steelbands. Another aspect of his invaluable contribution centered around his role as lender of first and last resort to the band that he loved. I was only made aware of this a few years ago during a time when the band was struggling to make ends meet. I was informed that he provided financial support to the band on more than one occasion.
No doubt the Stage Side members would have already expressed their gratitude to him while he was still with us. I take the opportunity to do so now. I will always remember him for his cool, calm, collected nature and his no frills approach to the vocation he loved so much.
The Ring that is Fonclaire has lost a gemstone, a sapphire that shone brightly for its time but is now extinguished leaving a legacy worthy of emulation.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory. To his family, friends and loved ones I express my sincerest condolences and pray that Almighty God, through His amazing grace will provide the support and comfort needed in their time of trial.