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Respects paid to former Bank of England governor Lord Kingsdown, Robin Leigh-Pemberton, at Canterbury Cathedral

06 February 2014
by Lowri Stafford

Hundreds of dignitaries packed into Canterbury Cathedral today, to pay tribute to "the spirit of Kent," Lord Kingsdown.

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

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

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

One of Kent's most respected and dedicated public figures, he had a long and devoted association with the Cathedral, where he served as president of the Cathedral Trust, Cathedral Seneschal and chairman of the Cathedral's Council.

It was there that his life was commemorated this afternoon, by hundreds of prominent figures including former Prime Minister John Major and Lord Carrington.

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

Former Prime Minister John Major was among the dignitaries

Former Prime Minister John Major was among the dignitaries

Lord Carrington makes his way into the cathedral

Lord Carrington makes his way into the cathedral

Speaking at today's service, former deputy governor Sir Paul Tucker said Lord Kingsdown was responsible for shaping the Bank of England.

He said: "The Bank of England has to be nurtured and renewed all the time. Robin Leigh-Pemberton built the foundations of the Bank of England we see today."

Describing him as "the most extraordinary team-builder," Sir Paul said his former colleague had a knack for telling people off "in an utterly painless way".

The order of service

The order of service

He reflected on Lord Kingsdown's "strong and honest" relationship with everyone - including the government - and said he took difficult decisions that "took away the breath of his colleagues".

He said historians would one day write about how Lord Kingsdown dealt with economic crises.

Sir Paul added: "He was a wonderful man, loved by many. He was fun to work with, very supportive and inspired loyalty and affection.”

As well as Sir Paul's tribute and readings and prayers from Lord Kingsdown's family, the Dean of Canterbury Robert Willis also paid his respects.

He said it was fitting that the memorial service was being held in a place where Lord Kingsdown loved to worship.

The Dean also spoke about Lord Kingsdown's love of bees, which he used to keep on the roof of the Bank of England, overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral.

He said: "I like to think the bees gave him an understanding of community and made him a loved member of this community, the bank community and his local community."

He said Lord Kingsdown's courage never waivered, even when coping with the death of his son Tommy, and his own illness.

He added: "He was, above all else, the spirit of Kent. He was faithful to the bank, the bees, the bible and the Book of Common Prayer."

Hundreds attended the memorial service

Hundreds attended the memorial service

Born into a farming family at Torry Hill near Sittingbourne in 1927, Lord Kingsdown 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.

Lord and Lady Kingsdown

Lord and Lady Kingsdown

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 at 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 also 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.

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

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