Barbados’ newest knight Sir Paul Altman is excited about the prospects of Speightstown as a generator of economic activity.
Sir Paul, who has been described as a visionary, has been involved in the development of the northern town since 1980 as part of the team that created the Speightstown Mall.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY over the weekend at his Sandy Lane, St James home, he said that he felt encouraged by signs of economic recovery there.
“Speightstown is happening and I am excited about Speightstown as I am about Bridgetown, Oistins or about Holetown. I think Barbados has an opportunity with those four towns, the Warren’s Town Centre and Six Roads, St Philip. We have some centres and I believe we can do a lot and gain a lot by focusing on these areas. The fact that we have World Heritage recognition for Bridgetown and its Garrison is another area that we need to focus more on,” Sir Paul explained.
Sir Paul, who was awarded the Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s New Year Honours List, described his elevation as “surreal”, adding that it was unexpected.
“I can only say that it is something that you cannot describe, something that is surreal. It is something that you never expected. I would have to learn how to fit into it,” he said, while receiving several congratulatory calls from friends and associates.
“When something like this happens to you the first thing that goes through your mind is, why you? There are so many people out there. It is one of the most difficult things to deal with,” Sir Paul added.
He insisted that he was going to take time to understand the full impact of the honour and that he wanted to remain grounded.
“I am touched and very sensitive of how the award of Knight Bachelor fits in with me as a person. I hope that nothing changes who I am. I always want to stay who I am,” Sir Paul said.
Reflecting on his many achievements over the years, he said he got the greatest satisfaction from being the Chairman of the Campus Council at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.
“I am interested in the sense that I know the meaning of what the campus is to our society. I am aware how much it has helped Barbados to progress. The campus has made a difference to the island. That is my sense in how I fit in there.”
Sir Paul, a member of the Harrison College alumni, is also deeply committed to the development of heritage tourism, which he believes can play a major role in earning foreign exchange and building national identity. He added that he joined the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme and later became a trustee because he saw the positive impact it had on the lives of young people.
The new knight is Managing Director of Altman Real Estate and has been involved in the real estate business for over 30 years. He is also responsible for establishing the upmarket Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in St James, which consists of about 100 retailers and restaurants, a nightclub and cinemas.
He attributes some of his success in property development to luck.
“In life you sometimes get lucky because you get into an area that you enjoy. I always had an interest in property, architecture and heritage. I got into property development when Barbados was developing. I was able to see the route forward in terms
of attracting more people to the country. I caught it at the right time.”
Sir Paul was also full of praise for the support of his wife of 44 years, Lady Altman, and his two daughters, Rina and Abigail.