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Douglas Wrexham Eric Forrest, O.D.

Douglas Forrest was born into a well established family in St. Elizabeth. Douglas was the third of five children.

Douglas started at a private school ran by Miss Lilly MacLarty in Black River and then followed his brothers footsteps by winning a Parish Scholarship to Munro College. Munro had no space and he was sent to Cornwall College for one Term before returning to his native parish.

When Douglas Forrest entered Munro, he came under the influence of a legendary Titan of Jamaica education, the controversial A. E. Harrison. It appears that Douglas Forrest absorbed the Munro model and dedicated his life to that system. Certainly his insistance on discipline, hard work, never say die, on sports as a means of forming Character, and on Christian worship as the basic could have been from his Munro experience.

But his other attributes- his generosity and love of music, were probably from (Bishop) Gibson’s influence. Above all, his complete disregard of class, or race, or background, brought thousand of boys from every corner of polyglot society to feel and act as one. His belief that a teacher must be firm, but fair, and that every case must be treated on its merit, earned him the sobriquet “Mr. Chips”.

[While at Kingston College (1926-1991)], he taught French, English and Mathematics and when George Clough resigned in 1935, he became Second master. He retained that position until 1956,when the new Lord Bishop of Jamaica was obliged to resign as Head Master, and he took over the reigns for which he had prepared for thirty (30) years. His efforts were recognized internationally, and he was Knighted by the French Government, of whose Alliance Francaise he had been a founding member. In 1971, he resigned at age 62 but stayed on staff, continuing his rigorous teaching, until 1991 when at 83 his health failed. He passed on in 1995. Both houses of Parliament rose to pay him homage.

The History of Kingston College -- by A. S. R. Johnson

Mr. Douglas Forrest was more than a Headmaster to the boys at Kingston College. To most of the boys he was a father, and to many he was the father they never had.

Douglas Forrest more than any one else created the atmosphere of a family among the students. The feeling of kinship and brotherhood was nurtured. Belonging to the Kingston College family and making your contribution to it’s vast legacy meant more to the boys than perhaps any thing else. Our headmaster was absolutely free from any prejudice whatsoever. It made no difference to him whether you were wealthy or privileged, poor or destitute, bright or dunce, black or white, Christian or atheist. We all felt we were special to him and he was the finest example to us as to what justice was. To the strong he gave love as he did to all, but he was particularly protective of the weak. It was as if he lived the parable of the lost sheep. He sought out the weak to give support, and would encourage others to give support to them. His extra lessons in French, Math and his extra classes to the Choir boys who had difficulty in learning the repertoire are a testament to that quality. He would visit your home if he thought it would contribute to solving your problem. He would look at the conditions, speak to the parents or guardian and take the responsibility to create condition at school to facilitate the student’s development. In this regard, he would reserve a classroom, which had proper lighting for boys taking final exams, so those very poor students without electric light at home could study late at nights. He always checked to see that every thing was all right and would sometimes bring a snack during these extra sessions. Whether these sessions were studying at nights or extra classes, his fatherly nurturing presence was always felt.

Our headmaster felt the pain with you whenever you were hurt. Whether this was an accident or an injury suffered during a sporting event. If he did not take you to the doctor himself he always made his car available to transport the student. Any one could drive his car so long as he had a driver’s license. Some of us in sixth form learnt to drive using his car.

He taught us the true values that mattered and was not caught up with the acquisition of material things for the sake of it. The values of honesty, truthfulness care for your fellowman, loving your neighbour as yourself, being non-judgmental of the weaknesses of others, tolerance and compassion, but most of all to be brave and to stand up for what is right regardless of the consequences. These valves became our guide and our shield in times of trouble. These values are what our school motto stands for. As a sixth former I got a canning from Mr. Forrest for coming late to choir-practice. I took the canning willing after he explained to me why I was being caned. He said, “ You are the Captain of the choir, you are the leader and soloist, much more is expected of you, that is why you are put in the position of leadership. I expect a higher standard of behavior from you so that those younger boys have a good standard to follow. You have let me down, and I am disappointed in you. I am giving you a caning so that you will never forget this for the rest of your life.” After he had caned me, he said my son, never forget this, “ to whom much is given much more is expected, now go out and lead by example.” I am grateful for having had the opportunity to share the formative years of my life with Douglas Forrest. For there is no other person who has influenced me to the extent that he has.

The overwhelming majority if not all KC old boys share that feeling I know. That legacy is embodied in the spirit of all of us, old, present and those to come. To KC, Douglas Forrest is an icon, that rare breed of very special human beings that God in his wisdom and mercy has risen up among us to serve, to lead, to manifest the truth of his word, his precepts and his commandments.

Douglas Forrest lives, in all of us who met him and loved him. He lives because his values are what we live by and with which we move and have our being. May this tournament be a fitting tribute to his legacy and may every participant perform in the competitive spirit embodied in our motto, "Fortis Cadere Cerere Non Potest.”

Taken from the program of the Inaugural Staging of The Douglas
Forrest Memorial Tennis Classic Nov. 6-7,1999.

-by Winston “ Winty” Davidson
Life member KCOBA


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