February 1, 1917 – George Arlington Sheppard was born in the village of All Saints, Antigua. George received his early education at the All Saints Government Elementary School where he successfully completed three (3) seventh standard certificates (1931 -33).
On leaving school, he was engaged in agriculture (mainly crop), which remained part of his lifestyle into retirement. He worked for a period at the Antigua Sugar Factory in various roles to include log keeper and tool room keeper (1940 – 1952).
Mr. Sheppard earned a Public Health Inspector’s Certificate from the Antigua Country Board of Health in 1944 and was subsequently employed as a Public Health Inspector from 1952 to 1958.
George capitalized on opportunities to attend the Labour College of Canada and the University of Montreal in 1964. He completed several courses of studies to include Economics, Political Science, the Theory and Practice of Trade Unions and Sociology.
At the community level, Mr. Sheppard was very involved in the work of the All Saints Anglican Church. He served on the Vestry several times and as People’s Warden. His church service expanded to Lay Representative to the Diocesan Synod on several occasions.
Beyond church life, he was pivotal in the growth of the All Saints Progressive Union Friendly Society from 1956 onwards and an influential member of the Community Council and then the Village Council of All Saints.
He was a noted Trade Unionist, member of the ATLU from 1939 and, a founding member and member of the Executive Council of the Antigua Labour Party. In 1958, Mr. Sheppard was elected unopposed for his first term in the Legislature. He had been selected by the Party to replace Novelle Richards in the (then) St. John’s Rural South Constituency. Mr. Richards was one of the two Antiguans elected to serve in the Federal Parliament (West Indies Federation). George subsequently won the seat in 1965 gaining 833 (76.77%) of the votes cast in the constituency.
His tenure as a Legislator came to an end in the 1971 elections when he lost to the leader of the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) George Walter (Sir). PLM Leader Walter’s rally cry “leggo the leopard mek e bite up Sheppard” carried him home to an emphatic 1,039 to 421 defeat of ALP’s Sheppard. This defeat was part of the all round ‘spread the word and sweep out Bird’ trashing of the ALP.
Even though PLM lost in a closely and hotly contested 1976 elections, the party’s leader Walter held on to the then All Saints Constituency with 1,352 votes to Sheppard’s 890.
Mr. Sheppard would retire his candidacy but remained an active member of the institution for a few years before concentrating his efforts on the work of the Anglican Church and community development.
There are many recounts of his quality penmanship used to prepare references for many members of the community to secure employment. It is said that a reference from George Sheppard was a guarantee of employment.
Mr. Sheppard sired six (6) sons and three (3) daughters with his wife Lucille Howell Sheppard (of Golden Grove). He remained closely connected to his ‘ground’ as a farmer.
Family members recount his growing disaffection in his twilight years with the institution he worked to build as he was displeased with the land use practices being pursued.