Allyson Hennessy dies at 63
By Anna-Lisa Paul Monday, May 9 2011
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QUEEN OF THE BAND: Veteran television personality, Allyson Hennessy, in Peter Minshall's 1997 presentation Tapestry, will be best remembered for her l...
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday joined the nation in mourning the death of media personality, Allyson Hennessy who passed away on Saturday night at the St Clair Medical Centre.
Speaking yesterday, she said, “We mourn her passing. Every person growing up in my time and even before me knows Allyson. She was an icon, an institution. To her loved ones we send our condolences. It seems as though we lose people every day — with the passing of Mr Valley and now Allyson. I’m sure the nation is in mourning,” Yesterday marked one month since the 63-year-old wife of fellow broadcaster, Emmett Hennessy was admitted to hospital suffering from a viral infection.
In a release issued yesterday afternoon, relatives said the 63-year-old succumbed to Sepsis and Septic Shock close to midnight on Saturday.
Thanking the public for “their overwhelming love, prayers and support that have been showered on Allyson over the past month” which included a blood drive, sister Rosemary Hezekiah said, “We prayed along with so many people for her full recovery but unfortunately God had other plans for Allyson.”
Remembering Hennessy as a person who lived life to the fullest and enjoyed every aspect of local culture, Hezekiah added, “She loved the people, her country and spent the past 40 years of her life promoting and participating in all things Trinidad and Tobago.” Hezekiah urged people to honour Hennessy’s memory by their continued support and belief “in the great spirit and uniqueness of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Funeral arrangements are expected to be finalised this week following the arrival of relatives of Hennessy’s husband from England. Among those hardest hit by Hennessy’s passing was Judy Alcantara, friend and former co-host of the programme Hennessy was most known for — Community Dateline.
Alcantara described Hennessy as a “truly nationalistic person who loved life, her work, her family and TT.”
Recalling Hennessy’s passion for Carnival and all things cultural, Alcantara said she would be most remembered as “a charismatic, genuine and free spirit that was absolutely wonderful to everyone she met.”
“Auntie Hazel” (Hazel Ward-Redman) said the cordon bleu chef who jointly owned the Veni Mangé creole restaurant in Woodbrook, with her sister, began her television career on a cooking segment on the programme Not For Women Only.
Admitting that Hennessy “had been an absolute hit” since then with television audiences, Ward-Redman claimed Hennessy went on to become the “sweetheart of the silver screen.”
Claiming that a huge void has been left following Hennessy’s passing, former Scouting for Talent host Holly Betaudier also remembered Hennessy’s love for Carnival and dedication to the local landscape in media and cultural arts.
Stating that he had hoped Hennessy would recover from the illness which had her hospitalised, Betaudier said the nation would mourn the loss of “an icon and positive media person.”
Veteran mas designer Brian MacFarlane said while he prayed with the rest of the country for Hennessy’s recovery, he was saddened to hear of her passing but will remember her as a “good spirit” who loved life and promoted “positive messages on life and humanity and not hurting each other.”
Echoing Hennessy’s love for Carnival, the Five-time Band of the Year winner said it was a time Hennessy lived for as she was most comfortable to enjoy the costuming and music.
Asked to described Hennessy in one sentence, MacFarlane replied, “An individual who lived life to its fullest and always remembering to live for her fellow-man in a good way.”
Hennessy was a favourite of photographers at Carnival time.
At its sixth annual dinner and awards for media excellence in 2009, the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association honoured Hennessy for her contribution to the media industry, which spanned more than 20 years.
In accepting her award, Hennessy said despite interviewing famous persons such Dr Eric Williams and Michael Jackson — her most rewarding experience was being able to reach and communicate with people in their homes who might have otherwise not been reached.
In what may have been her last public outing, Hennessy was present during her husband’s testimony at the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup. She wept as he relived the traumatic experience during the ordeal. He was shot in the arm.