Guardian of our built heritage
When realtor Sir Paul Altman was bestowed the award of Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s New Year Honours List this year, he asked himself what he did to deserve it.
He was recognized for service to the preservation of historic buildings and real estate development.
“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 told Barbados TODAY shortly after receiving the honour.
“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, however, that he would not allow the honour to change him.
“I always want to stay who I am.”
The knighthood was the latest in a series of accolades bestowed upon Sir Paul for his contribution to Barbados’ development over the years.
The trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Barbados received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2013 for his service to the scheme and the Barbados Youth Business Trust. In 2008, he was presented with the University of the West Indies (UWI) Caribbean Luminary Award, and was inducted into UWI’s Chancellor’s Circle. Sir Paul currently serves as chairman of the Campus Council at the Cave Hill Campus. In 2000 and 2007, he was awarded a Centennial Honour and a Gold Crown of Merit, respectively, by the Government of Barbados.
Reflecting on his many achievements, Sir Paul said he got his greatest satisfaction from serving as chairman of the Campus Council at the Cave Hill Campus.
“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,” he said.
Sir Paul added that he joined the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme and later became a trustee when he saw the positive impact it had on the lives of young people.
The Harrison College alumnus is also committed to the development of heritage tourism, which he believes can earn foreign exchange and contribute to building national identity.
With regards to his success in property development, Sir Paul said some of it was down 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,” he explained.
Sir Paul also attributed his success to the support of his wife of over four decades, Lady Altman, and their two daughters, Rina and Abigail.