By Raymond Syms
Everyone has a life story to tell. Wilfred Holder challenged himself and has written on over five decades of his life.
Titled One Man’s Journey, Holder, 81, dedicated his book to his beloved wife of 56 years, Kay. The couple is well known in family life circles not only in Trinidad and Tobago but across the English-speaking Caribbean. It was they who, in November 1978, introduced Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends here.
The Holders were appointed by then Archbishop Anthony Pantin and served for many years as the chair couple of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission. Their long service to the Church was recognised with the presentation of a papal award in 2005.
But One Man’s Journey isn’t only about their Church work. Much of it is about Holder’s career advising people in England, Belize, Trinidad and his homeland of Guyana about life insurance for 50 years, winning awards along the way.
He admitted though, at the July 13 local book launch at Presentation College Chaguanas auditorium, that he could not make the journey of wanting to change the world alone. Kay has been “my anchor”, he said.
The book was launched in Belize where he sold insurance for many years, and is in the Guyana university’s library.
Why write a book? “This is a book about life. Each one of us has a story. I had the courage to challenge myself to write about my story. Your story can make a difference in people’s lives,” he told friends, co-workers and other invited guests.
He encouraged those present to purchase the book not only for themselves, but for others to read, especially youth so that they too “can dream”.
Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju did the invocation at the launch. Master of ceremonies was fellow insurance agent and friend, Christopher Gouveia. Jacinto Martinez, President of Sales and Marketing, Sagicor and Paula Araujo-Wilson, also of Sagicor, endorsed the book.
Deacon Harold Woodroffe and his wife Carol, introduced Holder before he spoke. They met the Holders in the 1980s at a Marriage Encounter weekend and were invited to get involved in family life.
A quick read
One Man’s Journey is easy reading: it’s just 127 pages long, with ten pages filled with photos through the years. The early chapters are dedicated to Holder’s life growing up in Guyana—his family of origin, and entering the world of work.
It was interesting to read of his decision to join the thousands of Caribbean people migrating to the ‘mother country’, England in the 1950s and 60s. One chapter is simply titled ‘How I got started in the Life Insurance Business’.
Woven into each chapter, Holder writes of his Catholic faith; marriage and family life, raising with Kay their sons, Christopher and David; making friends; and working hard to build a clientele wherever he went.
He also speaks of the many challenges along the way including adapting to Belizean culture, wanting to give up, and coping with the climate in England. There’s even ‘A Motivational ABC Resource for Life and Business’ at the end of the book.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5 (read by emcee Christopher Gouveia at the launch)
“On the first day, I knocked on the doors of 23 homes only to be greeted with silence. By the time I reached the 24th home, my hands were numb from the autumn cold and I was dejected, from either a lack of interest or the absence of the residents. I would quickly learn that the majority of the residents worked shifts at the nearby factories which explained the lack of interest.
When I knocked on the twenty fourth door, a woman greeted me. She asked me what I wanted and I replied quickly, ‘Madam, I am a life insurance agent but I do not want to sell you anything. I just want to sit by your fireside to get warm. It is very cold outside and I have frostbite.’ She was kind enough to allow me into her home and even made me a cup of tea. From inside, I heard her husband’s voice. ‘Who is at the door?’ He was just getting ready to leave for his shift at the factory. ‘A freezing insurance man,’ she jokingly replied”….
One Man’s Journey is available on Amazon Kindle, and in hard copy at the Living Water Community Bookstore, the RIK Bookstore and the Dominican Book Centre.
Wilfred Holder can be contacted @ 689-4694, firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Facebook: Wilfred Holder & Associates
Kay and Wilfred Holder at the book launch