In 1969, Major Peter Helps, the first principal of Trinity College, having presided over the early years of the school’s settling into Moka, decided to return to England. He was in his 49th year and wanted to be back home before he was fifty and still, as he said “employable”. Courtney DeMonteith Nicholls applied to be his successor at Trinity College, was interviewed and subsequently appointed.
He brought with him stellar educational credentials: he was a 1951 Barbados Island Scholar to the University College of the West Indies and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from the prestigious University of Cambridge, England. At a fairly young age, he had already been Vice-Principal of QRC and Principal of several other secondary schools.
Mr Nicholls, who quickly gained a well-known ‘military’ nickname, Colonel Klink, would serve as Trinity’s second principal from 1969 to his retirement in 1985, creating an indelible impression on hundreds of students over those years. Many regarded him as a second father, and the welfare of the students was his life’s passion. He would mix an insistence on the pursuit of high academic achievement on the part of his pupils with an ability to see and appreciate the comical aspect of any situation. Indeed as columnist Mark Lyndersay (himself a Trinity alumnus) put it, he was “a man who matched rigorous discipline with a subtle but devastating sense of humour. Mr Nicholls never treated students like children or fools. He never hesitated to discipline and was known to deliver the occasional devastating clout, but he respected the capacity of his charges to self-govern and make sensible decisions after being offered a few words of wisdom”.
Academics, for himself and his students, was not his sole interest. He was an adept cricketer who represented his university and was a robust supporter of the Trinity College football team.
Mr Nicholls’ entire life was devoted to education. Even after leaving Trinity, he continued to contribute to the school, serving on the Board of Management for many years. He was also a member of various other School Boards such as Bishop Anstey High School. He was involved in the planning and establishing of Trinity College East and Bishop Anstey East, and for many years served as Secretary of the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools.
The Trinity College Alumni Association acknowledges the contribution of Mr Courtney Nichols in the area of Education, particularly to its Alma Mater, Trinity College and proudly admits him to its Hall of Fame.