“I was born in Trinidad, in a village named Barrackpore. It is in the middle of a sugar cane farming district and crude oil refinery sub-station depot extracting oil rigs locally.
My dad was a sub contractor for the oil company doing sesmic surveys to find oil. Our house & shop is located on a T-road junction where cane farmers brought their sugar cane in bull drawn carts to be weighed, sold and loaded onto the trains to be transported to factory. My shop is still there today”.
Suresh came to the UK in 1972 from Trinidad and Tobago. He had plans to become an illustrator after he was captivated by the amazing artwork found in his favourite comic books he read as a child. He loved the creativity of painting and other arts and crafts like pottery and sculpture, but it was not to be. The UK was recruiting nurses to train and work in the NHS and so he had to leave his dreams behind and take up nursing – a move he has never had to regret.
He settled in Rochdale, Lancashire and began training at the Birch Hill Hospital until 1977. After qualifying he moved to London to specialise in cancer nursing (oncology) at The Royal Marsden Hospital. Passionate about helping Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) communities he wanted the NHS to improve services and so he got involved in several committees working to improve cancer care. Later, he worked as a Cancer Information Specialist and used his training to support black and minority ethnic communities.
But Suresh’s story does not end there as his creative side didn’t diminish entirely. Since he came to London he has continued to promote T&T music and culture. He began to organise parties and cultural events. Suresh recalls a special moment in 1976, ‘I organised a party in the staff residence at the hospital. That party was attended by several West Indies cricketers, Larry Gomes, Mike Finley and Wayne Daniel to name a few. The party was a great success’. Throughout the ‘80’s, he continued to promote Indo-Caribbean culture and music. A decade later he began to introduce Chutney Soca music to the local Indo-Caribbean community so that they and their children could experience and enjoy their rich cultural heritage. He also started the UK’s first tassa drumming group.
Suresh has been presented with several awards for his work with the black community, including The Voice Newspaper and from the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. More recently Suresh was presented with a 50th Anniversary Award by the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in London in recognition of his contribution to the diaspora and by the Advancement of African-Caribbean Health by the Windrush Nurses and Beyond Foundation.
Suresh is now a Community Specialist Nurse (BME) communities at Prostate Cancer UK.