National Hero of Barbados – Sir Hugh Worrell Springer
Dedicated to Making a Difference
Often remembered as one of the greatest Barbadians of all time, Sir Hugh Worrell Springer (1913 – 1994) worked in a variety of professional and political capacities worldwide.
He was an educator, a politician, a leader of organized labour, served in Parliament, and was a member of the House of Assembly, just to name a few of his posts.
It has to be said that his highest acclaim is that of being appointed as Barbados’ Head of State – he was notably Barbados’ third native Governor General.
Throughout his life, Sir Hugh Worrell Springer held all manner of prestigious positions such as the first General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, the General Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party, the Acting Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Barbados, the Director of the Commonwealth Education Liaison Unit, the Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General, and the Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
With an unbelievable amount of public service for any one individual, Sir Hugh can only be described as a man who was ‘dedicated to making a difference‘.
Did you know?
The Springer Memorial School was officially opened on the 1st of October 1964 by the Acting Governor, Commander in Chief of the island, His Excellency Sir Hugh W. Springer.
One man, many achievements
After receiving a Barbados Scholarship in Classics from Harrison College in 1931, Springer went on to Hertford College in Oxford where he was awarded a BA in 1936.
After Oxford, he made the decision to pursue teaching at one of the best known educational colleges in London. However, it was made clear to Springer that based on his complexion he was not in a position to hold the post of a teacher. Nevertheless, Sir Hugh moved on, with his head held high and ready for a new challenge.
He returned home to Barbados in 1938, after being called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in London, where he had previously studied Law.
Shortly after his return, the Principal of Codrington College died, and until a next-in-line was found, Sir Hugh was finally able to realize some of his educational ambitions by taking over the teaching of Classics at the College.
At this point in his life, Sir Hugh Springer was also extremely focused on his vision of creating the Progressive League – of which he became General Secretary.
Springer was also able to historically form the Barbados Workers’ Union of which he was also its first General Secretary – a position he held for seven years (1940 to 1947).
It was in 1940 that Springer was elected to the House of Assembly and in 1944, he was then elected member of the Executive Committee. In another nod to his educational pursuits, in 1946 the Barbados Progressive League-Congress Party coalition appointed Springer to be responsible for Education, Legal Departments, Agriculture and Fisheries.
Did you know?
In 1944, to add to his multitude of achievements, Springer also obtained his MA degree.
Springer takes on the World
After acknowledging the need for wider regional assistance, Sir Hugh controversially resigned from the Progressive League and the Barbados Workers’ Union in 1947 and accepted the role of Registrar of the University College of the West Indies at Mona, in Jamaica.
During 1962 to 1963, he became Senior Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. He was additionally elected as an Honorary Fellow in 1988.
Upon his return to the University of the West Indies, Springer then took up the post of Director of the Institute of Education.
From 1966 until 1970, Sir Hugh Worrell Springer served as Assistant Secretary – General (Education) at the Commonwealth Secretariat, allowing him to play a pivotal role in the development of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Programme.
Continuing his lifelong passion for education, he then served as Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities from 1970 until 1980, and in 1978 he also served as Director of the United World College.
It was when Sir Deighton Ward, the Governor-General of Barbados at the time, died in office in 1984, that Springer was knighted and then appointed as Barbados’ newest Governor General – one of his finest achievements.
Unfortunately, Sir Hugh was forced to retire in 1990 due to his failing health, and he subsequently died in 1994. In 1998, by an act of Parliament, Springer was publicly honoured by being named as one of the ten official National Heroes of Barbados, ensuring his works and achievements live on in the hearts and minds of Barbadians for years to come.
By: Brett Callaghan