Tribute to Lloyd Noel

Grenada has lost one of its most recognised and acknowledged lawyer/newspaper columnist of the past 35 years in the person of Lloyd Noel.

The sad news filtered through the island on Monday afternoon that Noel had died at a health facility in New York while undergoing surgery for an injury.

His death shocked many since the barrister-at-law looked to be in good health when he was last seen at a major event about three weeks ago at Belmont Estate in St. Patrick to mark the 70th birthday of his close friend, former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

The late Lloyd Noel has made more than his fair share of contribution to Grenada’s development over a 45-year period.

As a young barrister-at-law who graduated from Britain, he returned home and immediately got into the anti-Eric Gairy struggle in the early 1970’s.

Noel was a member of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) led by late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and which included another young firebrand city attorney, the late Kendrick Radix.

As fate will have it, LLoydie as some will often call him was given the responsibility as Attorney General (Acting) when the NJM created history by staging the first successful armed overthrow of an elected government in the English-speaking Caribbean on March 13, 1979.

Three years earlier, the St. John’s attorney-at-law had tried his hand at electoral politics for the People’s Alliance as the NJM-selected candidate for the St. John constituency.

Although Noel lost to Gairy’s deputy, Herbert Preudhomme, the barrister was a key NJM leader as a member of the Bureau in the early days of the party’s formation.

The man from St. John’s attained regional prominence when he became the first high-ranking member of the NJM-led People’s Revolutionary Government (PRGP) to quit the administration and publicly voiced concerns about the curtailment of citizens’ human rights.

Noel had now joined the ranks of persons deemed as “counter-revolutionaries” for challenging the decrees of Bishop and the other comrade leaders.

He was detained months later and made a political prisoner by the PRG when he joined with others like the late Leslie Pierre and well-known regional journalist, the late Alister Hughes to form the Grenadian Voice newspaper.

Noel would only taste freedom on October 25, 1983 when U.S and Caribbean military forces landed in Grenada to bring an end to the unelected period of Marxist rule following the bloody internal fight in the NJM between Bishop and his supporters and a more powerful and radical faction led by Bernard Coard.

It is significant that Noel died the same day that the announcement was made that Coard had released his Memoirs, “The Grenada Revolution: What really happened?” in which he gave his version of the events leading up to the October 1983 crisis.

It is also interesting to note that among the jail mates of Noel on “The Hill” as “political prisoners” were a number of former NJM members who were engaged in the anti-Gairy struggles.
The list included the late Teddy Victor of Vincences and Lieutenant Kennedy Budhlall who many know today simply as KB.

The years spent in jail did not daunt Noel’s spirit and within weeks of freedom he and Leslie Pierre and a few others including Dorothy Patterson and Tillman Thomas soon resurrected the Grenadian Voice newspaper that was shut down by the PRG.

The lawyer wrote a column on “Law & Politics” for the Voice for many years and it was one of the most widely read piece in the publication.

A fall-out with Pierre resulted in Noel turning to the defunct Grenada Today newspaper to carry his article for several years until the paper was liquidated by a court action triggered by current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Noel continued to publish his article with the birth of the current THE NEW TODAY newspaper until health reasons forced him to take a sabbatical.

The years of battle had taken its toll on the attorney and in later years he would only work for about 3-4 hours at his law office on Church Street before calling it a day.

No man is perfect and history would recall Noel as one of those Grenadians who did make his mark on the political and legal development of the Spice Isle in his era.

May His Soul Rest In Peace!!!

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