Obituary: Leslie Farrer-Brown

Leslie Farrer-Brown, lawyer, economist, charity administrator: born 2 April 1904; Assistant Registrar, London School of Economics 1927-28; administrative staff, London University 1928-36; Secretary, Central Midwives Board 1936-44; Director, Nuffield Foundation 1944-64; Chairman, Highgate Juvenile Court 1952-61; CBE 1960; Chairman, Highgate Court 1961-65; Chairman, Institute of Race Relations 1968-72; Director, Alliance Building Society 1969-83, Chairman 1975-81; married 1928 Doris Jamieson (died 1986; two sons); died 20 April 1994.

IN the early 1940s the motor industry magnate Lord Nuffield was seeking a proper framework for his long-established philanthropic enterprises. The Nuffield Foundation was established in 1944 with a group of distinguished managing trustees, Sir William Goodenough as their Chairman and Leslie Farrer-Brown as the foundation's first Secretary, later Director, a post which he held until his retirement in 1964.

The foundation's terms of reference pointed to the advancement of health and social welfare, to the care and comfort of the aged poor (Nuffield's own phrase), to education, to science and to the research and exploration necessary to realise these purposes. The Director was expected by the managing trustees to play an active part in the planning and the administration of the programme, and 'FB' set the style. A few examples of undertakings supported in his time indicate something of the range: in the late 1940s the Rowntree inquiry into old people's homes; the setting up of the Nuffield Hospitals Trust; in the earlier days of television the Himmelweit inquiry into its effects on children; in the last few years of Farrer-Brown's tenure the Nuffield school science programme; the support given to the Jodrell Bank radio telescope near Manchester; the responses to university and other libraries in the period of post-war expansion in higher education; the establishment of Commonwealth fellowships.

Of course, in fairness, all established trusts and foundations can claim to have records of judicious and impressive benefaction. What is being celebrated here is Farrer- Brown's vision and consistent integrity, sustained over 21 years, as he travelled widely, putting down strong roots in the Commonwealth, especially in Africa, as well as in the United States. He was appointed CBE in 1960 and honorary degrees came to him.

Leslie Farrer-Brown was born in 1904 and graduated from the London School of Economics in the mid-1920s after which he entered university administration in London and was called to the Bar. During the Second World War he was seconded to the Ministry of Health, and social welfare, the law, education, administration, science (particularly medical science) had begun to emerge as principal elements in his experience and interests at the time of his appointment to the Nuffield.

When he retired in 1964, aged 60, his intellectual and physical energy, his openness to new ideas and his social conscience remained. So too did his administrative and legal experience (for over 20 years in London he served as a magistrate), his circle of contacts, and the committees he served on in broadcasting and educational television, in communication generally and the development of languages, in medical education and hospital administration. In 1969 he took up a new career, as a Director, and later Chairman, of the Alliance Building Society. He was glad to renew his university connections, becoming an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics in 1975 and a member of the Court of Sussex University, later the Chairman of Council and Senior Pro-Chancellor. He loved and tended his beautiful garden in Lewes and painting was his principal hobby; he adapted to the computer, the word processor and the cordless telephone with confidence and success.

Such a record sounds and is formidable but Farrer-Brown was not a formidable man. He talked freely on many subjects, he enjoyed argument, he listened and he had sympathy for the diffident and a well- controlled asperity for those who presumed too far.

Doris Farrer-Brown, a woman of character and generosity of spirit to match her husband's, died in 1986. They were splendid hosts and welcome guests and undoubtedly they were both happiest with their family. He died peacefully just over a fortnight after his 90th birthday party which, frail though he was, he had enjoyed in their company.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk