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The history of Nuffield – part 2


David Yonge had succeeded Huxley as Fellowships Advisor and acted as secretary to the Management Council. The Annual Meeting of 1968 was to prove momentous, for after the routine reports, Yonge dropped the bombshell that the Foundation felt it was no longer able to administer the Farming Scholarships. Expressions of regret were accompanied by comments from the majority of members that “we have had a good run”, and that this was the “end of the line”. Commander Latham who represented the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers did not support this view, and was immediately backed by Cyster and myself. We were adamant that the scheme had a great deal more mileage left in it and after a great deal of persuasion, Maclean, as Chairman, suggested that, in response to the obvious enthusiasm of the two scholars, they should be asked to set up an organisation to continue the awards.

Our first task was to appoint a Secretary, and this duty landed in my lap. The second task was to make the move from the Foundation legal. To this end the Foundation’s solicitor, Ernest Gowers, met Maclean and myself and together we drew up a Draft Constitution calling ourselves the United Kingdom Farming Scholarships Trust. The exclusion of the word “Nuffield” from the title was intentional since it was felt that, in the eyes of many potential donors, the Nuffield name appeared to represent a bottomless pit of money and was likely to deter them from subscribing.

The first move was to appoint four Trustees, and these were Jack Maclean as Chairman with Sir Richard Trehane, then Chairman of the Milk Marketing Board, Commander Latham of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers, and myself.

It was decided to continue to use the Management Council as governing body, and to add to its membership as further donors came along. The Foundation was asked, and consented, to allow the Director and Fellowships Advisor to become full member of the Council in order to safeguard the Foundation’s interests and to continue the relationship now established.

The affairs of the new Trust were run, at first, from a small office in Agriculture House, given rent free by the NFU and, using a generous grant from the Foundation, a lady was engaged for secretarial work. The frequent presence of myself, then a busy farmer, in London – often two or three days a week – soon proved too wearing and too costly in terms of travel and the office was moved to my farm office at Weston Underwood and a local secretary engaged. I could thus keep full control and work at my convenience. An honorarium of £300 was paid.

It soon became obvious that the administrative grant from the Foundation would not last much longer and more money was needed. A number of charitable organisations were approached and Special Awards, each contributing 10% of the award to administration, were set up on behalf of the Jack Wright memorial Trust; the Studley College Trust; the British Eggs Marketing Board (R & E) Trust, the Eggs Authority; the John Oldacre Foundation and the Trehane Trust. Jack Wright was a scholar who had studied irrigation and who introduced the concept of spray irrigation to UK, later forming his own company – Wright Rain Ltd. His tragic and early death in a plane crash in Mozambique led to his friends forming the Memorial Trust.

Sir Richard Trehane, who for many years was Chairman of the Milk Marketing Board and who represented them on the Management Council, retired with great honour and a Trust was formed which offered three awards in the milk sector, both to farmers and the trade. This was the beginning of a significant departure from a “Farmers only” policy up to that point and was to allow into the scheme “persons in a position to influence farmers and growers”.


In 1970 Maclean was taken ill, and decided to resign as Chairman. We both agreed that an obvious choice to succeed him was John Cyster, and he and I known in the Trust as the “two Johns”, ran the Trust’s affairs, meeting usually for breakfast each week in London and being back on our farms by midday.

In 1974 we decided to bring in another helper and found in Geoffrey Ballard, a scholar who had extensive business interests of his own, as well as being Chairman of MSF Ltd and the NFU Mutual. He was appointed Vice-Chairman and was used as sounding board by the two of us.

At this time we published a Scholars’ Directory, after a great deal of research among our scholars. It listed scholars by year of award and showed their subject, countries visited and current farming interests. These little booklets contributed a great deal to the preparation of tours by new scholars and were especially valuable to the Overseas Scholars (qv). They were reissued each year and were a necessary prelude to the formation of the Nuffield Scholar’ Association (NSA). In 1972 the NSA held its first Winter Conference on the Tuesday of Smithfield Week at the Strand Palace Hotel to which 120 scholars and wives came and when scholars of 1971 presented their reports with slides. The Winter Conference has been a feature of every year since and last year (1995) was combined with the AGM of the Council.

In the late ‘70’s I had an opportunity to meet HRH The Duke of Gloucester, who farmed at Barnwell not far from me, and asked him if he would be willing to take on the role of Patron of the Trust. Happily he agreed and has since involved himself quite deeply in the affairs of the Trust. To mark his acceptance we decided to hold a Dinner at Grosvenor House at which he was the principal guest. Over 200 Scholars, wives and guests attended with a Royal Marines orchestra playing during dinner.

In 1976 also, it became apparent that in order to fulfil its role the Trust would have to have a larger income and, with the advice of Craigmyle Ltd who were professional fund raisers, we formed an Appeal Committee and asked Lord Walston – past Labour Minister of Agriculture – to chair it. The Appeal was called the “Golden Key” Appeal and Craigmyle produced a comprehensive list of possible donors. Each member of the committee took responsibility for those persons or organisations where they had personal influence, and after aiming to raise £150,000 almost £180,000 was raised, some as cash and some as seven year covenants. This gave the Trust a firm base of investments from the income from which General Awards were made backed up by covenant income.

Go to: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4

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