The death of Sir Adrian Cadbury on the 3rd September 2015 aged 86 has just been announced.
Sir Adrian was chairman of Cadbury and Cadbury Schweppes for over twenty-four years. But in his long and busy life of business, public service and civic activism he was also much more than this. He was an olympic rower; a past director of the Bank of England and of IBM; and chairman of the UK Committee on Corporate Governance that so bore his remarkable stamp that its 1992 report — still considered a benchmark on the subject today — became known as the Cadbury Code.
I wouldn’t presume to say I knew Sir Adrian, but on the few occasions I met him — usually in some connection with an ART event, whose founding Chairman he was in 1997, and whose President he served as from 2004 until the time of his death — he radiated an old world charm, modesty and moral purpose that one couldn’t fail to respond to.
It was a report from the Aston Commission, chaired by Sir Adrian, which heralded the start of ART (Aston Reinvestment Trust) – then a new type of finance provider, designed to raise money from social investors to lend to local businesses enabling them to create or protect local jobs for local people.
Steve Walker, chief exec of ART, worked alongside Sir Adrian from the outset. “Sir Adrian was an astute businessman guided by a strong moral compass,” he says. “He was a great enthusiast when it came to business and loved to talk to entrepreneurs, business owners and managers about their ideas and plans for growth, but he was also a philanthropist and encouraged others to follow his example.”
In 1996 community finance was a new concept — but Sir Adrian was its tireless evangelist amongst his vast network of friends, associates, business colleagues and co-philanthropists. His energy and powers of persuasion were crucial in securing the seed investment which allowed ART to get started.
There are tributes in The Guardian, The Birmingham Mail, The Birmingham Post, The Daily Telegraph (and more fully in the online The Telegraph), the Financial Times, Business Quarter, and on the Aston University website.
That Sir Adrian is mourned so widely and by such a range of institutions and individuals is a mark not just of his long and active life, but also of the high esteem and affection so many felt for him.
“Without Sir Adrian, ART — and indeed the community finance sector which we have helped to build — wouldn’t be where it is today. He was always a friend and everyone at ART will miss him greatly.” — Steve Walker, ART