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Sackett, Alfred Barrett

Alfred Barrett Sackett, OBE (1862-1951; e.m. 1889),WM minister of Kentish stock, was born on 6 July 1862. He trained at Richmond College and spent much of his ministry as a Forces chaplain, including 15 years (1903-1919) in Gibraltar. He superintended the Soldiers' Homes in Gibraltar and Shorncliffe, Kent. He died on 18 January 1951.

His son, also Alfred Barrett Sackett (1895-1977) was born at Strood, Rochester on 23 March 1895. Educated at Kingswood School (1907-1914) and Merton College, Oxford (1914, 1918-1921), he saw war service in the Dardanelles and Egypt (1915-1916) and in France (1917-1918), winning the MC at Ypres. He was invalided out after losing his right leg in 1918. After six years as a housemaster at Christ's Hospital (1922-1928) under the headship of W. Hamilton Fyfe, he began his career as headmaster at Kingswood School (1928-1959), supported by his wife Dorothy (née Salter, 1898-2000), whom he had married in 1925.

A headship of rare distinction saw not only an increase of numbers from 257 to 443, matched by the growth of physical facilities (including a prep. school from 1934), but also the remarkable growth of the Sixth Form (from under 10% to over 40% of all pupils) and considerable academic distinction, despite wartime evacuation to Uppingham. His outstanding leadership and personal example left its mark on many generations. He was a member of the World Methodist Council 1950-1956. His studies of John Jones and James Rouquet (1972) threw new light on Kingswood's early years. He died in Bath on 24 September 1977.

Quotations

'It was the headmaster's custom to interview every boy individually at the end of each term, for five or fifty minutes as the occasion required... At the end of one of the terms in my last year I came to the head in his private study late in the evening after the concluding school concert. On his desk were two things that took my notice: a carving of a tree, beautiful in its detail of foliage, which he himself, he told me, had cut from its block of wood; and a red-bound edition of St. Mark's Gospel, finely printed and illustrated with woodcuts. At the time I was beset with sceptical doubts which questioned every aspect of the Christian faith, from God's existence to the possibility of life after death. It was these doubts we discussed.

'Eventually, when it was clear that argument would not resolve my scepticism, he pointed to the gospel lying open on his desk and said, "But surely thereis something you can believe!" I looked and I read: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God". That was the end of the interview, but not of my doubts; yet the words were not forgotten, neither his words nor the evangelist's. And I suspect that it was that brief incident, unpremeditated and seemingly inconclusive, which, more than all the hundreds of chapel hymns and sermons, brought me ultimately into membership of the Methodist Church.'

Frank Garforth, Travelling along with Methodism(1990) pp.106-7

Sources

  • Methodist Recorder, 8 Feb 1951; 6 Oct. 1977
  • A.G.Ives, Kingswood School in Wesley's Day and Since (1970) pp.207-21
  • John Walsh (ed.), A.B. Sackett, a memoir (1979)
  • Susan I. Jackson, In the Shadow of a Mighty Rock: A history of the Gibraltar Methodist Church (2009) pp.322-44

Entry written by: AMB and WL
Category: Person

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