Alfred Pragnell grew up in Chelsea Road, near to the home of Frank Collymore Hall and attended Combermere Secondary School. Chelsea Road which is situated near the Garrison Savannah, was known back then as a middle class district in Barbados. A lot of his early guidance and influences came from within the Collymore family household in which he spent a lot of his time. Not to mention that Collymore was also a teacher at the very Combermere School which, as mentioned earlier, Pragnell attended.
Alfred Pragnell was affectionately known across Barbados as AP. This multi-talented individual who made Barbados his home was known for his broadcasting, acting, and storytelling abilities and even his ability to sing calypso. Amidst the many talents that he carried under his belt, none of us can ever forget those most comical and hysterical ‘Proper Pork’ Carlton Supermarket commercials.
His unique style of performing was very responsible for adding life and character to whatever he put his hands on including the very works of Barbadian writers, such as Jeanette Layne-Clarke and Timothy Callendar.
Much of Layne-Clarke's written whim and humour came alive as a result of Pragnell’s performing style. All too often, the people of Barbados became exposed to poems about Bajan hypocrisy and gossip. A character that was often time portrayed as someone who dressed up and went to any and everybody’s funeral service so that they can have first-hand information on who was wearing what and who stood out from who didn't.
Pragnell's broadcasting career got started with Barbados Redifussion. (Rediffusion was a British firm which distributed radio and TV signals through wired relay networks.)
His most debonair and calming tone, quickly became the epitome of etiquette all across Barbados and he was soon greatly admired by the island. 'Sunday Magazine' was one of the many programmes he hosted here in Barbados where he played a range of genres including oldies and classics. His programmes were also heard in the Eastern Caribbean islands as well.
Barbados Redifussion became 'Voice of Barbados' and Pragnell later served as Programme Manager for many years until his early retirement in 1988. Despite his retirement, he remained with the firm as a consultant teaching and training new announcers.
Apart from his broadcasting work in Barbados, he was a loyal, reliable, and hardworking member of the Greenroom Players. This group is an amateur theatre group that saw the bringing together of white and black Barbadians in a theater setting (some expatriates also joined).
Brains Behind Holetown Festival
Among the many references that were made to him in Barbados, one of them was the ‘Brains behind Holetown Festival’. It was Pragnell’s deep desire to be able to commemorate the Holetown settlement. As such, Holetown Festival was born in 1976. His commitment and dedication to the Festival has seen its growth over the years go from strength to strength.
Despite the fact that he is no longer physically here with us, each time you hear his voice and the wit and humour associated with it, it always takes Barbados back to those child hood days of hearing him on Rediffusion.