Lady Thelma Edna Hochoy (Huggins)
Born on September 17th 1910.
Died April 17th 2010
The wife of Trinidad's first Governor General, Sir Solomon Hochoy.
Married Sir Solomon Hochoy in 1935.
Her parents, Peter and Lilla Huggins, were owners of a dry goods store at Ste Madeleine, opposite a Catholic church, grew up in Ste Madeleine, San Fernando.
In 1957 She along with Mrs Rose Miles, an American whose husband was in charge of the Alcoa operation in Trinidad, paid an official visit to the House of Refuge, now called the St James Medical Complex. There they were confronted by 25 children with severe mental retardation, living among destitute and elderly mental patients at the short-staffed institution, and others who lived at the Psychiatric Hospital in St Ann’s. The children’s plight in such unsuitable surroundings appeared terrible and hopeless. That visit changed the lives of those children and gave hope and meaning to the lives of thousands more, as the two women immediately began to search for better facilities to accommodate the children. With help from Father Michael O’ Loughlin, they worked tirelessly to realise the dream that was born that day – to establish a residence to cater specifically for children with severe mental retardation.
By 1958, the Trinidad and Tobago Association for Retarded Children (TTARC) was formed, and remains the umbrella for all the Lady Hochoy Homes, the Memisa Centres and the Penal Day Care Centre. TTARC entered into a contract with the Carmelite Sisters to provide the necessary services on a consistent and efficient basis. Its Mission Statement extends to providing an environment for not only children but “persons with mental retardation” to enable them to achieve their full potential for integration into the main stream of a well informed society.
The first residential centre, the Lady Hochoy Home, was opened in Cocorite on March 29, 1961, with an intake of the 25 children from the House of Refuge, and two weeks after those from the St Ann’s Hospital. The Centre was built on land donated by the Government, and funded on the basis of a two-thirds contribution by the government and one-third raised by the Association.
Realising that the children in residence were capable of learning, a Day School was opened in May 1961.
Refused the Trinity Cross, she said her reward, recognition and honour must come from those she helped during the course of her life.
The founder of the Lady Hochoy Home and was instrumental in developing several social and religious projects which bears her name.
She was so involved in the social fabric of the country that when she was unable to maintain her former home at Alcazar Street, Port of Spain, she turned it over to the Carmelite nuns and moved in with her adopted daughter, Joyce Chinasing.
She was widely regarded as a humanitarian who reached out to the differently-abled children and youth.
A home in the heights of Guanapo in the late 1970s.
She also assisted with the rebuilding a new RC Church in Las Cuevas and another in La Fillette.
She established the Lady Hochoy Home to help disabled children. And received several international awards, including one from the Pope.