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Queen Elizabeth Pays Tribute to Grande Riviere’s Len Peters

Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to Commonwealth volunteers on Wednesday during a video call with three Commonwealth Points of Light Award recipients from around the world including Trinidad and Tobago’s very own, Len Peters.

The Queen took the group call at her Windsor Castle residence in the UK, while Mr Peters was at home in Trinidad. Mr Peters, a conservationist from Grande Riviere, Toco in Trinidad, was the first-ever recipient of the Commonwealth Points of Light award in 2018. The award recognises outstanding volunteer work by individuals in the 54 Commonwealth countries. The other two recipients on the call were Ruy Santos of Mozambique, and Nikoletta Polydorou of Cyprus, who presented the Queen with a musical performance by a symphony orchestra of 45 music students in honour of her 73rd wedding anniversary.

Mr Peters told the Queen about his organization, Grande Riviere Nature Tour Guide Association, a community-driven organization that was started in 1990 to “convince the residents who live in my community” that the leatherback turtles which graced their shores annually needed to be protected and not used for food.

“My community consisted of persons who ate the leatherbacks as food,” he said to the Queen. “Every single leatherback that crawled onto the beach at night, would be consumed by the residents.”

But by 1991, Mr Peters was able to get more members of his community to see his vision and his work has helped transformed Trinidad and Tobago, namely Grande Riviere, as a premiere nesting site for the turtles. The work of Mr Peters and his organization was also previously recognised by Sir David Attenborough and featured on his Blue Planet II series, which the Queen acknowledged: “So David Attenborough got to know what you were doing?”

He said Sir Attenborough spent two weeks with them in Grande Riviere and included a visit to the primary school, which was an inspiring visit for the 28 children there, to which the queen responded, “that’s very interesting indeed to hear that.”

Mr Peters told The Toco Times that he prepared for the call with the Queen with the British High Commission in Port-of-Spain and he felt humbled and honoured to be able to speak with Her Majesty. To the community he says, “when you undertake a task do it to the best of your ability for you never know who is watching.”

The Commonwealth Points of Light award was launched in February 2018 with the Queen and representatives of the British government selecting one person per week from Commonwealth countries to receive the award for their community service.

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