National Security Minister Stuart Young signs a portrait of Akil Durham, former councillor for Belmont North and West at the Port-of-Spain City Hall yesterday, during a public viewing of the body.

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Braving the rains yet trying to maintain all COVID-19 measures, a steady group of people gathered to show their respect to former Belmont councillor Akil Durham at City Hall, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

Durham, 33, passed away on Saturday after ailing for a couple weeks. His death remained a shock to many who had worked with him along the recent election campaign trail, including Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s MP, Stuart Young.

As they gathered to remember him, many friends and colleagues continued to express their shock.

“Akil Durham was a young man who had a bright future ahead of him, he was someone I had a lot of time, a lot of regard for and worked very closely with even after he was no longer the councillor in Belmont. Him and I continued to have a very good working relationship,” said Young at the memorial yesterday.

“He was someone who was very true to his belief that he must serve the people. He is very sorely missed, this came as a complete shock to me, because I had been in touch with him even up to a couple days before this happened,” the St Ann’s MP said.

Young said, “Honesty, resilience and the ability to speak his mind,” were the traits that made Durham stand out as they worked together in recent years.

Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez also heaped praises on Durham, who had served as Belmont councillor from 2016 to 2019.

“I have to tell you though, that as a councillor he served his community with distinction, he was passionate about what he did and he was a very vibrant young dynamic individual that I grew very fond of and I could have counted on him on many occasions to deliver when I extended an opportunity for him to be able to do something for the benefit of the people of Port-of-Spain,” Martinez said.

“I think he made his presence felt. He was one of those councillors who stood for what he believed was right, he fought for his constituents with passion and he put himself last. He really and truly was a young dynamic politician who I say would have had a tremendous future ahead of him,” the Mayor added, “the testimony today with the amount of people who turned out is exactly what it is, he was well-liked and he served the people of the city of Port of Spain and Belmont, his district with tremendous distinction.”

The mayor said much of his council was still mourning following his passing, a sentiment underlined by Deputy Mayor Hillan Morean who admitted, “His loss is immeasurable, I don’t even think I have come to terms totally with it.”