Alfred Sangster was born in St. Elizabeth on July 24, 1929, son of Peter Watt Sangster, a farmer, politician, and Munro & Dickenson Trustee, who was a hero for his upcoming nephew Donald, who became Prime Minister of Jamaica. Alfred’s mother, Iris M.L. Maxwell Sangster, was the daughter of a Scottish missionary who established many churches in St Elizabeth. She established a foundation to help students associated with those churches.
Alfred attended Munro College from 1940 to 1947. He achieved good scholastic and sporting accomplishments, was House Captain of Calder House and Deputy Head Boy, and was a scout as a junior and cadet as a senior. Although he has represented Jamaica in hockey, he was perhaps more remembered for tennis and track and field. Along with fellow inductee Hugh Hart, he was on the tennis team that won the Alexander Cup in 1947, and on the athletic teams of 1945, captained by inductee Lindy Delapenha, and of 1947, both of which won Boys Champs for Munro College. In cricket, he famously made a century against the Munro Old Boys. He earned his school colours in athletics, cricket, hockey and tennis.
He has described his Munro years as rich and rewarding. Passing his School Certificate Grade II with distinction in English Language in 1944, he went on to gain his High School Certificate in 1946, majoring in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics.
Going on to science at Queens University in Belfast, Ireland, he gained a First Class Honours BSc in Chemistry, a blue in athletics, and was an executive in the Varsity Bible Union. He came back to Jamaica and was assistant Lecturer in Chemistry, then Senior Lecturer and Supervisor of Research Projects between 1952 and 1970 at the University of the West Indies. Meanwhile, in 1958, he obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry.
1958 was a great year for him, as then he also married Trinidadian Velma A.I. Bodden. They have raised two sons and a daughter and are justly proud of them. Peter and David are mechanical engineers and Kathleen a medical doctor.
His career at what was first CAST and later University of Technology went from Vice-Dean of Evening Students to President of UTECH, where for a while his name became synonymous with the institution. He has been President of the Inter-collegiate Sports Association and a Member of Carreras Sports Foundation. Out of this interest in sports, he espoused the principle of local training of athletes along with colleague Dennis Johnson, and this has seen the emergence of world-class local coaches and Jamaican athletes prosper, excel, and dominate as never before.
Some of the things he remembers with fondness of the CAST/UTECH years are: student numbers going from 1,200 to 6,000; three (3) new departments; fifty (50) new programmes; the granting of degrees; growth of the physical plant; a growing number of Caribbean students; the 9th World Conference on Cooperative Education; and restoration after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
His publications include numerous scientific papers, television commentaries, and a book, “Energy and our World.” His other interests are photography, swimming, and scanning the developments in science and technology. He says of himself: “I became a Christian at Moorlands Camp in Manchester, and have sought to honour the Lord. I give God thanks for guidance and for the recognition I have received”.
Community Service and Recognition
He was a founding father and Chairman of Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections, (CAFFE) and under its monitoring, the freeness and fairness at polling stations in Jamaica have improved greatly in the last five general elections. For this initiative he received the Gleaner’s Special Award in 1999.
Because of his consistent interest in education and in technology and its applications, he has been pressed – not unwillingly – into service via chairmanships, directorships, memberships, and consultancies covering a lot more than the following; Merl Grove, Kingston Technical’ UTECH Education Foundation; Solar Energy Society; Farquharson Institute; World Future Society; Cooperative Education Association of Science Teachers; School of Theology; Student Christian Fellowship & Scripture Union; Jamaica National Relays, and the Metrication Board.
For his consistent yeomanry and effectiveness, many organizations and the government itself have honoured him. He is a Justice of the Peace since 1977, and has received the Institute of Jamaica Musgrave Gold Medal and the Munro & Dickenson Trust Award for Excellence. He received the Order of Jamaica (CD) in 1982, and the Order of Jamaica (OJ) in 1995. Fittingly, in 1996, the UTECH Auditorium was named the Alfred Sangster Auditorium.
For these reasons, and more, the Hon. Alfred Sangster OJ, was proudly inducted into the Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame.