The Court of Benefactors recognises donors whose exceptional generosity gives them a special place in the University’s philanthropic history.
The three founding members of the University of Leeds Court of Benefactors are The Clothworkers Company, Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay and Mr Peter Cheney. A further three donors will be inducted to the Court of Benefactors in 2017. They are The Liz and Terry Bramall Charitable Trust, Candlelighters and The Audrey and Stanley Burton 1960 Charitable Trust.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1528, the original purpose of The Clothworkers’ Company was to protect its members and promote the craft of cloth-finishing within the City of London. Although few present members are directly involved in the textile industry, the Clothworkers’ Company continue to support textiles, principally through educational grants, fostering the development of technical textiles and colour science, and support for the nation’s textile heritage.
The Clothworkers’ Company is the University’s most longstanding benefactor; from its very first gift in 1874 to build the department for Textiles, Chemistry and Dyeing to its grant to restore the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall for the University’s 100th anniversary, the Clothworkers’ Company has contributed with wonderful generosity.
This close relationship between the Clothworkers’ Company and the University of Leeds has enabled us to develop our campus, our research and our teaching for almost 140 years. The Company’s most recent grant, to establish the Clothworkers Centre for Textile Materials Innovation for Healthcare, will support research and technological advancement that will have a direct benefit on millions of people.
Irvine Laidlaw was born in Scotland in 1942. After Leeds and an MBA at Columbia University, he founded the Institute for International Research (IIR), growing it to become the world’s leading company providing conference organisation, training and knowledge and skills transfer, with over 3,000 staff in at least 40 countries. He sold IIR to T&F Informa in 2005 and has since devoted himself to philanthropic activities.
Lord Laidlaw’s generous gifts to Leeds support a series of scholarship programmes across the University. His longstanding interest in education and in helping disadvantaged youth led to the creation of the Lord Laidlaw Scholarships. The scheme provides entrance scholarships to students entering Leeds through our acclaimed Access to Leeds programme, who demonstrate great academic achievement and potential. The scholarships have already enabled more than 130 talented students to come to Leeds and will continue to open doors for over 100 students in the coming years.
Lord Laidlaw also supports Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarships across eight faculties. The scholarships offer students the opportunity to work with leading academics on sustained research projects over the course of two summer internships, as well as leadership training and opportunities to develop their skills.
In 2013, Lord Laidlaw committed the largest donation ever made to the University of Leeds: an exceptional gift of £9m towards the new undergraduate library. Named the Laidlaw Library, the building opened in 2015 and forms a stunning entrance to our campus from Woodhouse Lane.
Until his retirement in 2004, Peter Cheney was one of two Co-Presidents of Mars, Inc., and was the first non-family member to run the business. Peter began his career in the pharmaceutical industry, and joined the UK pet-care business of Mars in 1972. Over the following years, he held a number of different roles in Europe in both R&D and manufacturing. In 1990 he moved to the USA, becoming part of the Mars Corporate Staff based in McLean, Virginia. In subsequent years Peter was responsible for the manufacturing function of Masterfoods USA, and served as President of Kal Kan/Uncle Ben’s, and Regional President for Food and Petcare business in the Americas. He became Co-President of Mars in 2000.
Peter and his wife Susan have given generously to a number of projects across the University. Their support for scholarships has benefitted many students and helped advance the University’s commitment to ensuring that applicants’ financial background should not be a barrier to their education. The Cheneys have also funded Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarships which give students the opportunity to work with leading academics and participate in research.
Their most recent gift has endowed in perpetuity the Cheney Fellowships. This campus wide programme will attract individuals of exceptional talent and potential to Leeds for a period of intense and creative research and study, to inspire our students and build lasting partnerships with our staff.
Originally from South Yorkshire, Terry Bramall studied at the University of Birmingham before joining the construction business founded by his father. Over the following four decades he grew the modest Doncaster-based firm into the largest provider of social housing in the Midlands and the North of England, employing over 3,000 people. Terry retired as Chairman and sold Keepmoat plc in 2007.
Since then, Liz and Terry Bramall have given exceptional support to many causes, with a particular focus on those based in Yorkshire, and those supporting young people and the arts.
Their gifts to The University of Leeds have funded our Reach for Excellence programme since 2010, enabling hundreds of talented sixth form students from disadvantaged backgrounds to take part in activities and events to inspire them and help them realise their full potential. Liz and Terry are also supporting some of these ambitious and gifted young people once they arrive at the University of Leeds, through The Bramall Scholarships.
Candlelighters provide vital support to families whose lives are affected by children’s cancer. In addition to this, they fund research in childhood cancer, in order to increase survival rates and reduce the side-effects of treatments. Over the last three decades, Candlelighters have funded programmes of Yorkshire-based clinical and scientific research at the University of Leeds.
One such success is The Candlelighters Children’s Cancer Research Laboratory which opened in 1992. The work undertaken, led by Professor Sue Birchill, has significantly enhanced our understanding of children’s cancer – particularly Neuroblastoma and Ewing’s Sarcoma. This state of the art research has contributed to the development of personalised and targeted cancer therapies as well as new drugs for the battle against cancer.
The dedication and support from Candlelighters has resulted in the University and NHS in Leeds being regarded as a leading centre for delivery of research and clinical care for young people with cancer.
The Burton family has made a major philanthropic contribution across Yorkshire over the last century. The University is particularly fortunate to have enjoyed the family’s enlightened support since Montague Burton’s first gift in 1929 to endow a chair in Industrial Relations.
Stanley, the first son of Sir Montague, was also a supporter of the University. Together with his wife Audrey, he shaped our distinctive art collection, adding immeasurably to the cultural riches of the University. Audrey’s generosity later enabled us to expand, redesign, refurbish and add to the Gallery that now proudly bears both their names.
Stanley and Audrey’s daughter Amanda shared their interest in the arts and their affection for Leeds, giving generously to expend a scholarship programme for postgraduate students in Music and Fine Art.
Over the past twenty years, the name Santander has become synonymous with support for students – not only at Leeds, but at more than a thousand other universities worldwide.
Like the bank itself, this support began in Spain, led by Chairman Emilio Botín who was determined to give back to the regions served by the business. He was driven by the conviction that a university is a vital cornerstone of any community, and a mechanism through which people and businesses can grow, thrive and prosper.
Wherever Santander has expanded, so its philanthropy has followed. This reached the UK in 2007, when students at the University of Leeds were among the first in the country to benefit. Since then, Santander has directly contributed a huge amount to our student experience through supporting scholarships, international experiences such as summer schools and volunteering opportunities, enterprising students who are establishing their businesses whilst studying and internships with SMEs in the local community.
*Donors are listed on this website on the basis of their contribution from 1 August 2011 - 31 July 2019 inclusive and will be updated annually after the close of the University financial year (ending 31 July). Some of the donors listed have given to the North American Foundation for the University of Leeds, to support grants made by that foundation to the University. A list of those donors can be seen here.