We learnt recently with great sadness of the death of the Rt Hon Lord Kingsdown KG, who died on Sunday 24th November 2013, aged 86. Known internationally for a career both in commerce and public service, Sir Robin Leigh-Pemberton, later Lord Kingsdown, was appointed Governor of the Bank of England in 1983, a position he held for 10 years.
He was a tremendous supporter of Canterbury Cathedral. Among many other appointments and titles, Lord Kingsdown was the Cathedral’s Seneschal from 1983; Chairman of the Cathedral’s Council from its inception in 2004; and President of the Cathedral Trust for over 40 years. He regularly attended Services at the Cathedral and was a familiar figure in The Precincts.
Robin Leigh Pemberton was a tremendously loyal friend of Canterbury Cathedral throughout his life, and used his great skills to support the Cathedral’s mission in many ways. His great wisdom and integrity were invaluable, and we have lost a close friend of the Cathedral community. We will miss him greatly.
The Very Revd Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury
Robin Leigh-Pemberton was born in 1927; his father, RD Leigh-Pemberton MC, farmed Torry Hill, a 2,500 acre estate near Sittingbourne in Kent – the family have been landowners in the area since the 19th Century. He was educated at Eton, where he showed promise in mathematics and classics and won a scholarship to read Greats at Trinity College, Oxford. He won the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst, saw active service with the Grenadier Guards, and practised as a barrister before embarking on a highly successful business career, which saw him take the role of Chairman of NatWest Bank in 1977. In 1983 he was appointed Governor of the Bank of England by Margaret Thatcher and was sworn of the Privy Council in 1987. In 1953 he married Rosemary Forbes, daughter of the Dowager Marchioness of Exeter. Rosemary survives him, as do four of their five sons.
After retiring in 1993, he was created a life peer as Lord Kingsdown and joined several boards and committees, with directorships of Redland, Glaxo Holdings, and Hambros Bank. In 1994, he was appointed a Knight of the Garter, the most prestigious Order of Chivalry which is in the exclusive gift of HM The Queen.
Even in the height of his business success, Lord Kingsdown maintained a strong connection to his home county. He became a magistrate and a Kent County Councillor in 1961, and was Chairman of KCC from 1972 to 1975. A talented cricketer, Lord Kingsdown was a Trustee of Kent County Cricket Club from 1973 until the Club’s incorporation in 1999; he was made Club President in 2002. He was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Kent, honorary Colonel of the Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry and, for 20 years from 1982 he served as HM’s Lord Lieutenant of Kent. As Lord-Lieutenant, he presided over some 200 Royal visits to the County and, ably supported by his wife Rose, was at Her Majesty’s side on great occasions, such as the opening of the QE II Bridge over the River Thames, and the opening of the Channel Tunnel. Lord and Lady Kingsdown’s long record of conspicuous service to Kent, and to its residents, was acknowledged by the presentation of well-deserved individual Spirit of Kent Awards to each of them in 2010.
A Memorial Service to commemorate Lord Kingsdown’s life and achievements will be held in the Cathedral at 12:00 on 6th February 2014. All are welcome.
He will be very much missed by the Cathedral community.
In the Press
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Respects paid to former Bank of England governor Lord Kingsdown, Robin Leigh-Pemberton, at Canterbury Cathedral – Kent Messenger (06/02/2014)