Young pan player receives Princess Diana Award
June 29, 2018
Young pan player receives Princess Diana Award

Saeed Bowman has not been playing around; for the last 10 years he has been playing the steel pan all the way to a Princess Diana Award.

The 17-year-old received the first ever Diana Award given to a Vincentian youth, in a ceremony held in the Curator’s House at the Botanic Gardens on Monday.

Louise Mitchell, Director of the Preservation Fund, said Bowman immediately came to her mind when the Diana Award Foundation requested that they nominate someone.

“Now, over the years, I had been at various functions where little Saeed Bowman was playing for one good cause and another, so he just came to mind,” Mitchell recalled.

She asked Bowman’s parents if he had played to raise funds over the years. The reply was, “…Louise you don’t know how many times…Saeed hardly ever says no once it’s a good cause and someone approaches him.”

Officials, family members and well wishers at the presentation ceremony where young musician Saeed Bowman received the Diana Award from Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne.

His parents themselves were shocked at the number of events the young man had attended over the years, when they put together the information for Mitchell, she disclosed.

“So we put together the application and sent it off to the Diana Foundation, and were absolutely thrilled when months later we were informed that he was a successful candidate, and he was in fact being granted the Diana Award for 2017,” Mitchell said.

“A 17-year-old young man whose name has already become synonymous with pan in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” and whose biggest passion is music, but whose academic achievements have far from suffered as a result, was how Bowman was described in his biography.

“Overwhelmed with emotion and pride,” his Excellency Sir Frederick Ballantyne presented the 2017 Diana Award, which read, ‘Saeed Bowman can change the world,’ to the young musician.

The distinguished pannist was next to take centre stage.

“My first experience with this instrument stemmed from a summer program that was conducted by Mr Ashley Kirby in the Starlift steel Orchestra pan yard, where I learnt basic music theory and practical. My first song learnt and played being “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, which I played for the first time at age seven,” he explained.

From this point, “Even at the age of seven, I knew I would have wanted to play pan for a very long time,” the young man divulged.

He thanked God, and those around him, but especially mentioned the members of his family.

“My dad is my biggest fan. He is always present and making sure everything is perfect so that I am 100 per cent comfortable whenever and wherever I play. I cannot thank him enough for doing what he does for me,” Bowman said.

“My mother who plays a very supportive role and in helping to select the appropriate songs for the numerous events, for being my wardrobe manager, and for having to put up with all the sweet sound of pan when I’m at home practicing for an event,” he continued.

Bowman also thanked his uncle, Lennox Bowman who got him his first high quality steel pan, and offered much advice. The young man also thanked his sister and grandmother.

The official website dedicated to the award, describes The Diana Award as: “Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, The Diana Award is the most prestigious accolade a young person aged 9-18 years can receive for their social action or humanitarian work.”