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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Hundreds are expected to attend the memorial service for Lord Kingsdown at Canterbury Cathedral

27 January 2014
by Gerry Warren

A memorial service will be held at Canterbury Cathedral next week to commemorate the life of Lord Kingsdown who was one of Kent's most respected and dedicated public figures.

Robin Leigh-Pemberton, who was made a life peer in 1992, died on November 26 aged 86.

Known internationally for a career both in commerce and public service, he was appointed Governor of the Bank of England in 1983, a position he held for 10 years.

Lord Kingsdown, Robin Leigh-Pemberton was a dedicated supporter of Canterbury Cathedral

Lord Kingsdown, Robin Leigh-Pemberton was a dedicated supporter of Canterbury Cathedral

But it is his long and devoted association with the Cathedral, where he was president of the Cathedral Trust for more than 40 years, the Cathedral Seneschal from 1983 and chairman of the Cathedral's Council, for which he will be remembered for most by the Cathedral community on February 6. 

At the time of his death, the Dean, the Very Rev Robert Willis said: "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. We will miss him greatly."

Born into a farming family at Torry Hill near Sittingbourne in 1927, 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 sworn of the Privy Council in 1987.

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 the authority from 1972 to 1975.

A talented cricketer, Lord Kingsdown was a trustee of Kent County Cricket Club in Canterbury from 1973 until the club’s incorporation in 1999 and made 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, served as HM’s Lord Lieutenant of Kent.

In that role, he presided over around 200 Royal visits to the county and, supported by his wife Rose, who he married in 1953, was at the Queen's side on occasions, such as the opening of the QE II Bridge and the Channel Tunnel.

Their long record of conspicuous service to Kent, and to its residents, was acknowledged by the presentation of individual Spirit of Kent Awards to each of them in 2010.

He is survived by Rosemary and four of their five sons.

The memorial service to commemorate Lord Kingsdown’s life and achievements will be held at the Cathedral at midday on Thursday, February 6 to which all are welcome.

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