Dr Alan Diamond OBE Hon. DBA MCSI Crown Estate Paving Commissioner Emeritus
(OH 1954) – Philanthropist
‘It is important to learn about philanthropy from a very early age…’
This is the sound advice offered to or current pupils from the philanthropist Dr Alan Diamond (OH 1954) but it would seem that Alan’s instincts, when he first joined The Hall were focused mostly on the entrepreneurial. He remembers collecting conkers in Regent’s Park on his way to school to then sell on to other boys during break time.
You can tell from the wonderful stories Alan tells about his time at The Hall that he made great friends although he claims to have been a poor student. The practice in his day was for the Headmaster Gerard Wathen to assemble parents and pupils for ‘reading over’ where the position of each child relative to his peers was made public. On one occasion, Alan’s position was announced as 19th and his mother enquired of a fellow parent how many pupils there were in the class? The reply was ‘17’!
However, Alan does feel he gained three important things from his time at the school; a lifelong love of sport (he continues to support Chelsea and was elected a member of the MCC in 1963); impeccable manners; and a passion for History, together with an appreciation of art as reflected in his picture collection. Inspired by his History teacher Mr Bathurst, Alan to donated The Bathurst prize for History which is awarded each year at The Hall in memory of the former master.
After leaving school, Alan, immensely impressed by members of the then London Stock Exchange walking around the floor in silk top hats, was fortunate enough to join the city firm of Smith Brothers, who were a firm of jobbers (now known as market makers). He worked alongside another fellow former pupil, Michael Marks (OH 1954) who also had an outstanding career in the city. In 1963 Alan was elected as one of the very youngest members of the stock exchange at the tender age of 21 and from there he went on to enjoy a successful career as a city stockbroker.
However, his real focus since his marriage in 1975 has been the private charitable trust which he set up with his wife, Sheila. They established The Alan and Sheila Diamond Charitable Trust with £5,000 of capital. It has grown to be included in the top 50,000 private charitable trusts in the country.
Through the Trust, Alan and Sheila continue to support a myriad of worthy organisations. Alan is the first named member of the Sidney Sussex College 1596 Foundation. He was also Chairman of the fundraising campaign for Sidney and his Trust has awarded a number of prizes to the College. At Girton College he sat on the Appeals and Investment committees and his Trust donated a building to the college in memory of Alan’s mother. He has been a dedicated supporter of the British School of Osteopathy from which, in 2009, he received an honorary doctorate presented to him by HRH The Princess Royal. His Trust also paid for the renovation of the Childrens’ Synagogue at the Central Synagogue in London. Alan is also a patron of a number of charities both here and abroad. Philanthropy is engrained in Alan’s’ life and each year, he holds a ‘birthday lunch’ for friends to help raise money for his elected charity.
In addition to his charitable support, Alan was invited to become a commissioner of the Crown Estate Paving Commission and served for nearly 14 years, retiring in 2011. He is one of only two commissioners to be recognised for this contribution by being appointed a Commissioner Emeritus on his retirement in 2011. The other Commissioner Emeritus is Sir John Ritblat (OH 45) a fellow pupil at The Hall. To find out more visit - http://www.cepc.org.uk/commissioners%2bemeritus.html
In 2012 in recognition of his immense contribution to so many worthy causes over the years, and his outstanding public service, Alan received the OBE from HM Queen Elizabeth.
What is very evident is that Alan derives huge pleasure in being able to help others and encourages all our current pupils to strive to do the same. We were delighted last week when we were able, in a very small way, to help Alan, by reuniting him with one of his life-long friends from the Hall – Michael Lewis (OH 1954) – who now lives in the USA. We hope they will stay in touch with each other and with the school and look forward to welcoming them back to Crossfield Rd in the future.