Photo via Excellent Stores.

Excellent Stores has taken a decision to close its downtown Port-of-Spain branch at the end of the year as it focuses on its digital transformation. In a brief statement, Excellent Stores said the closure is part of a holistic decision for the Group and is in line with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s vision to revitalise the capital city. It said it will be working on upgrading Excellent City Centre in the new year. The 15 members of staff employed at the PoS branch will be transferred to another branch or be assigned new positions. Marketing and E-Commerce Manager Liliana Ragbir-Sookaran said efforts are ongoing to revolutionise Excellent Stores’ business model. “Recognising that the economy will continue to be in a sustained recession and foreign exchanges reserves will continue to deplete, Excellent Stores has taken a position of “Collaboration over Competition”.” This led to the launch of Marketplace in August 2020. Ragbir-Sookaran said Marketplace provides other local retailers/small businesses, the opportunity to get an online presence on a trusted and reliable site and gives customers exclusive offers and items not found in their physical stores. “This venture allows customers to benefit from an even greater contactless experience utilising the systems already in place and other retailers can now benefit from a true Omni-channel partnership,” she continued. Other retailers and businesses will be added to Marketplace in 2021. Ragbir-Sookaran added that Excellent Stores is committed to continuing to use technology to create the best experiences for its customers, employees and other retailers. The group in August announced that it would be converting its Arima branch into aClick and Collect Express Centre, where customers cancollect their online orders and shop. The original9,000 square foot space was reduced to a third of its size. Excellent Stores has branches at MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain;Arima; Price Plaza, Chaguanas; Trincity Mall and C3 in San Fernando.

Representatives from the Proman team coordinate virtual HSSE
week activities at the company’s Headquarters at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.

The Proman family of companies has completed its first-ever virtual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) week of activities. The event, held from November 23 to 27, utilised technology amid the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling participation across other Proman global locations in the United States, Mexico and Portugal. An online portal designed to provide employees with real-time access to all resources related to the programme was created as the hub of the event. The theme was “Investing in the Sustainable Development of our People, our Places and our Local Economy is our Responsibility”. A statement from the company noted that HSSE week formed part of Proman Trinidad’s annual corporate agenda, to build engagement and share best practices with employees and our local services and contractor partners across the industry. Keeping the spotlight on organisational safety and sustainability, the HSSE programme also engaged the families of employees through a variety of virtual activities that included a children’s art competition on the theme; virtual tours of local environmental heritage sites and attractions such as the Nariva Swamp, Matura National Park and the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserveas well as interactive videos reminding about the importance of mental health and physical well-being beyond the workplace. The week also featured a discourse on Sustainability by David Ramjohn, Global Head at KindEarthTech, spotlight on fitness through virtual Zumba, interactive lectures on process safety management, personal security awareness, operations best practices and mental health and wellness. Additionally, in line with Proman’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the company’s Energy Management Committee, which was launched earlier this year, also delivered an interactive presentation on the business’s policy framework and ambitious agenda of sustainability, clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Claus Cronberger, Proman’s Managing Director in Trinidad said: “The execution of HSSE week has reinforced the resilience and innovation capability of our people. Even in Proman Proman completes its first digital-only Health, Safety, Security and Environment week November 27, 2020, the face of a global pandemic, our team rose to the challenge and developed a safe and commendably interactive platform to ensure the principles of physical and mental wellbeing, safety and sustainability remain at the forefront of our company’s culture.” Rishen Doolarchan, Proman’s Head of HSEQ who led this year’s event stated: “As we navigate through unchartered waters of the last few months, we are learning to adapt to new ways of working and supporting our people. I am particularly pleased with our team’s delivery and the involvement of our local vendors in this virtual initiative. During these challenging times, it is important that we create opportunities to support our local businesses, share ideas and continue stimulating our local economy.” Proman has also spared no effort in developing and implementing rigorous site-wide protocols in Trinidad and Tobago. A few of the key measures included non-contact thermal scanners, smart glasses to facilitate real-time virtual connectivity between operations and offsite personnel during critical evaluations and the use of motion sensor activated 360° whole-body disinfection tunnels. This has reportedly enabled employees and contractors to work approximately 2.1 million man-hours and execute two major plant turnarounds (TAR) between March 2020 and September 2020 without a positive COVID-19 case at any of its facilities.

FILE - In this file photo dated Friday, May 7, 1999, Dave Prowse, the original Darth Vader from the "Star Wars Trilogy," poses during the New York Comic and Fantasy Creators Convention. The British actor, Prowse who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died aged 85 on Saturday, according to an announcement by his agent Sunday November 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Lynsey Addario, FILE)

Dave Prowse, the British weightlifter-turned-actor who was the body, though not the voice, of arch-villain Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, has died. He was 85. Prowse died Saturday after a short illness, his agent ThomasBowingtonsaid Sunday. Born in Bristol, southwest England, in 1935, Prowse was a three-time British weightlifting champion and represented England in weightlifting at the 1962 Commonwealth Games before breaking into movies with roles that emphasized his commanding size, including Frankenstein's monster in a pair of Hammer Studios horror films. Director George Lucas saw Prowse in a small part in "A Clockwork Orange" and asked the 6-foot-6-inch (almost 2-meter) actor to audition for the villainous Vader or the Wookie Chewbacca in "Star Wars." Prowse later told the BBC he chose Darth Vader because "you always remember the bad guys." Physically, Prowse was perfect for the part. His lilting English West Country accent was considered less ideal, and his lines were dubbed by James Earl Jones. Prowse donned Darth Vader's black armour and helmet for "Star Wars" (1977), "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983). He expressed some regret that, thanks to Vader's mask, "I can walk around with complete anonymity." "All actors crave recognition and I'd like to have some like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo," he told The Associated Press in 1980. "Fortune tends to follow fame." Prowse also worked as a trainer for other actors, helping Christopher Reeve prepare to be the Man of Steel in hit 1978 film "Superman." Prowse was also known to a generation of British children as the Green Cross Code Man, a superhero in a series of road safety advertisements during the 1970s and '80s. He was a regular at "Star Wars" fan events, but was banned from official conventions by Lucas in 2010 after the pair fell out. Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" films, tweeted that Prowse was "a kind man & much more than Darth Vader." Hamill said the actor "loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP" "Ant-Man" director Edgar Wright also paid tribute to Prowse on Twitter. "As a kid Dave Prowse couldn't be more famous to me; stalking along corridors as evil incarnate in the part of Darth Vader & stopping a whole generation of kiddies from being mown down in street as the Green Cross Code man," he wrote. "Rest in Peace, Bristol's finest." Prowse is survived by his wife Norma and their three children.

Soca artiste Preedy tied the knot today with his high-school sweetheart Tiffany Paul.

Preedy is a married man. The soca artiste, birth name Akeem Chance, tied the knot with his high-school sweetheart in an outdoor garden wedding this afternoon. Preedy and his new wife Tiffany Paul said "I do" in an intimate setting that saw the likes of colleagues in soca such as Patrice Roberts in attendance. Roberts' daughter Lily was the flower girl. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Patrice Roberts (@patriceroberts1) Preedy and his wife, who are parents to one son,have been together for the last 11 years. They met in secondary school. Preedy, known for sweet vocals on songs such as "Say Yeah", "Yuh Bad", "Pray" and "Away", sang to his bride during the ceremony. He gave fans a sneak listen to the song via his IG Live stating that he was completing it for his bride.

File: St Peter statue, Moruga. Photo by Nneka Parsanlal.

The National Trust has introduced a new personalised ‘Friends and Family - Tour on Demand service’. The Friends and Family Tours are designed to allow small, private groups of up to eight and are geared towards re-introducing leisure activities in a private, safe and convenient format, amid the stresses brought about by the current COVID 19 pandemic. The National Trust also sees this as an opportunity for friends and families to have a pandemic ‘staycation’ whilst exploring the country’s great outdoors and the fascinating history-laden sites. This new tour service offers a new ‘on demand’ feature, whereby customers can choose where and when they wish to go on a tour suitable to their schedule, Sunday to Sunday. Margaret McDowall, Chairman of the National Trust said: “This is an important customer-focused change for the Trust where traditionally tours would usually be scheduled in advance, and customers would indicate their interest to attend.” McDowall said that over the years, people have been asking for private tours and weekend tours that are more convenient for working people as well as families with school schedules. She said the present circumstances have motivated the Trust to reconsider their approach. Now customers can schedule their tour of choice any day of the week. Another significant feature of the Friends and Family Tours is that it offers the convenience of booking and paying online, in keeping with our commitment to ensuring that the most stringent health - safety practices. McDowall further explained that the ‘tours-on-demand’ approach is possible through special arrangements made through partnerships with other tour guides and operators as well as transport contractors to facilitates a high degree of flexibility with the tours. The convenience and flexibility of the ‘Family and Friends Tour on Demand’ does not stop there, as the National Trust have also made provisions for the tour bus to pick up groups at locations suitable to them. The National Trust has become well known for its unique, educational and fun tours over the years. It has selected seven destinations from its popular list of tours to pilot this new Friends andFamily Tours programme and will be adding more in the future. These include, the HistoricMoruga Tour,Historic San Fernando Tour, Nelson Island Heritage Site, Cedros Icacos Tour, the Chaguaramas Tour and the Historic PrincesTown Tour. These destinations can fill volumes of books with fascinating stories about our forefathers and the evolution of the country. To learn more about these tours, please visit the National Trust Website at or contact Cheryl Ali or Marlon Green at 225-4750.

The body of Che Lewis displayed at his funeral on Wednesday. Dennie's Funeral home is intent on shaking up the funeral industry in T&T. Photo courtesy Dennie's Funeral home.

The tagline at Dennie’s Funeral Home is “Every life is unique therefore, every funeral should be unique.” For Cochese Tyler Dennie, managing director of the three-year-old funeral home based in Belmont, Trinidad, that tagline inspires him to push the envelope when it comes to how they treat the dead. On Wednesday, Dennie’s threw T&T and the funeral industry into a stir when they positioned a corpse in a seated position on a chair in the church. The corpse was that of Che Lewis who was murdered on November 14 with his father Adlay Lewis. Both men were laid to rest yesterday. However, while the elder Lewis was transported via a casket by another funeral home to the church in Diego Martin, the body of the son was seated in a chair in a cordoned-off area just outside the main doors of thechurch. Photos of the seated corpse being transported from Belmont to the church in the back of a hearse designed as a van also had a lot of tongues wagging all over social media. The body was later placed in a casket for burial. “The family requested it but it was something we had on our bucket list to do so when the request came it wasn’t foreign to us because we are aware of funerals like that abroad,” said Dennie, referring to Puerto Rico where the modern trend, known as extreme embalming, is said to havefirst appearedin 2008 as a more celebratory send-off. He told Loop News that embalming the body to get it in a seated position was not as challenging as they expected. “I was surprised, we embalmed him over a period of two days and he was set like that,” he said, explaining that getting the body into the coffin was not difficult since joints are difficult to embalm and there is free movement at the knees. He said the body was embalmed with a combination of arterial embalming and hypo injectors. “We had him by us for three days to monitor how he was doing in the chair before we took it public,” he said. Dennie, who runs the funeral home with his three brothers, said while the public was disgruntled with the unorthodox treatment of the body, the reaction was useful in terms of feedback on the practice as it is their intention to continue to do things creatively. “We will bring the body home or wherever. An elderly man called and said he is a card player so when he dies he wants the body in his favourite bar playing cards,” Dennie revealed. Commenting on the public criticism and condemnation, Dennie said they are simply showcasing their talent. “Instead of criticising, people should say hey, this is the amount of talent in Trinidad and Tobago and maximise on it. This is a lucrative business but we don’t have an accredited programme for funeral directors and embalming here. I think we should look at the bigger aspect of it,” he said, noting that they garnered international recognition from people abroad including Millennial Morticians in the United States. The 24-year-old said in the next ten years, they plan to revolutionise the funeral industry in T&T with ground-breaking innovations and inventions. Among their plans is a cremation method called Aquamation or Alkaline Hydrosis, in which the body is dissolved in water and a solution of sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide. Dennie said the method is environmentally safeas there are no smoke emissions and the ashes are pure and uncontaminated. Stating that he is passionate about his profession, Dennie said: “The first three letters of the word funeral spells fun. My next big move would be to have someone walk in the church at their own funeral.”