Alden M. McLaughlin Jr., MBE, JP
Alden M. McLaughlin Jr., JP, Member of the British Empire
Alden M. McLaughlin, Jr. describes himself as "a George Towner with deep roots in Bodden Town and East End." Born in 1961, he grew up in an era when boys fished, farmed or played football, for those were pre-television days.
"It is hard to describe to today's children the kind of freedom we had back then," Mr. McLaughlin say, reflecting on the Crewe Road Caymanian house of his childhood - the one in which his dad still lives.
A humble but solid foundation, seasoned with a true love of country is what set the stage for Mr. McLaughlin to take on some of his generation's biggest issues. Most notable has been constitutional modernization, for which he is now being made a Member of the British Empire (MBE).
"Seeing the adoption of the new Constitution was indeed a crowning moment in my career," he acknowledges.
But there is more to mark Mr. McLaughlin's stellar career. As one of Cayman's visionary politicians, he remains a vocal proponent of a better education system and the advancement of human rights in the Cayman Islands.
"Just because Cayman punches above its weight in the financial arena, doesn't mean that we shouldn't pay attention to social development and human rights. Because these things do matter," he firmly states.
As a product of the public education system himself, Mr. McLaughlin holds that all children must be properly educated when they leave school. "Without that, it is near impossible to take advantage of scholarships or training opportunities - and too many of our young people are facing that struggle."
Raised to work hard and make his own way, Mr. McLaughlin joined the civil service in 1981 as Assistant Labour Officer. He moved on to the Judicial Department as Deputy Clerk of the Court, and later joined Charles Adams and Co. (now Charles Adams, Ritchie and Duckworth) as an articled clerk. He became a partner in 1993.
Returning to public service, he served his first term in the Legislative Assembly in 2000. Then in 2005 he became a Cabinet Member and Minister of Education Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture.
Currently in his third term as an elected member, Mr. McLaughlin is philosophical about his tenure: "Dealing with criticism and adverse public opinion is never easy, but I have always believed that I can make a difference, and I will continue to serve my people."
He also credits much of his success to his 20-year-plus membership in the Lions Club of Grand Cayman: "While I have poured numerous service hours into the community, I could never match the value of personal growth I experienced as a result."
In addition, Mr. McLaughlin is a longstanding member of the Cayman Bar Association, an organisation he has also served as president.
And wife Kim and sons Daegan (18) and Caelan (15) are easily the most important influences in his life, for "they merge with my uncompromising patriotism to provide the inspiration that keeps me going.
"There are many reasons that I love my country, especially the people - they make Cayman a special place to live. But I do worry about the loss of honesty, the absence of the moral compass that used to guide us. There is a growing amorality, an 'anything-goes' attitude, as well as a lack of respect for authority."
Accordingly, Mr. McLaughlin's latest venture involves helping at-risk youth face life's challenges so they can become responsible adults. "If our country wants to remain a success story we must shake the sense of entitlement and teach our children to help themselves," he says.
Never one to waste an opportunity, he adds a final appeal to all adults: "Let us reach out to our young people. By setting positive examples we can help them regain the integrity and aspiration they need to succeed."
For further information contact: Wosila Rochester