Heritage saves the day for Skiffle steel just before Panorama finals

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Skiffle Steel Orchestra during Panorama preliminary judging in its panyard, Coffee Street, San Fernando on January 30. The band advanced to the semis and to finals. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Two days before Saturday’s Panorama finals, Heritage Petroleum Co Ltd (Heritage) has come to the rescue of large band finalist, Skiffle Steel Orchestra.

The company signed an agreement for sponsorship of the band at a simple signing ceremony at the Coffee Street, San Fernando panyard on Thursday night.

Signing on the dotted lines were Heritage’s CEO Arlene Chow and Skiffle’s CEO Junia Regrello, witnessed by chairman Michael Quamina.

Regrello, also the city’s mayor, told the media after the signing, had it not been for the intervention of the energy company, they would not have been in the healthy position they now find themselves.

Although the agreement was formalised only on Thursday night, Regrello said the sponsorship was activated a little while before.

“We were hanging in there, looking prosperous, but the band was struggling to make ends meet.

“We have not had a proper sponsorship for the past 15 years.”

Within the last few years, he said several companies came on board, including contractor Junior Sammy and Caribbean Airlines (CAL).

While the arrangement with CAL was potentially long term, the pandemic hit, the airline had to send workers home, and with air travel suspended, the relationship was no longer feasible.

A Skiffle Steel Orchestra player during the band’s performance at its panyard on January 30. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Since then, Regrello said he wrote every corporate body asking for assistance, but none was forthcoming. He managed to plead a successful case, however, before Quamina, who is also an attorney.

In terms of the potential length of this sponsorship, Quamina said, “I think that I have a have fairly decent relationship with Skiffle and I don’t think I have any difficulty in saying the company is committed to continuing this relations with Skiffle for a period in excess of one year.

“We are prepared to make a fairly long term commitment to this band which has done yeoman service to the pan community.

“This is an opportunity to give back into the community.”

One of the criticisms of Heritage’s predecessor Petrotrin was its involvement in so many other ventures, apart from its core responsibilities that resulted in its restructuring.

Quamina said he has heard the criticism.

“It is a valid criticism, but this is not a question of us having our hands in different pots. We are in the energy industry and that is our core business.”

Heritage, he said, is involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sponsoring bands was an opportunity in which to engage.

“You won’t necessarily see us sponsoring fetes and so forth. What you will see us engaging in, are very worthwhile endeavours like this and we are happy to do so. It is a very important aspect of our business.”

Heritage is also sponsoring Siparia Deltones, which is also in partnership with Machel Montano and has chosen his collaboration with Hugh Masakela, The Meeting Place, as its Panorama tune of choice.

Quamina said it also supports Deltones agricultural enterprise.

“Venturing into the pan side was new, but again, we consider the contribution that makes to the community of Siparia and we consider it to be extremely worthwhile. We do envisage that relationship will continue as well.”

Asked if the long-term commitment to the two bands was an indication the company’s healthy position, Quamina responded, “I am sure you read the papers and I am sure you see how well Heritage does.

“As long as the oil prices remain where they are I don’t see a difficulty in that.”

While he did not want to go as far as saying the arrangement with Skiffle, “was a marriage made in heaven, it is a marriage we are happy to venture into and we look forward to a long relationship.”