The Earl of Limerick

at King's Mead from 1939 to (approx) 1943

(obituary from the Times, 20th January 2003)

Director of Kleinwort Benson who spent two years in Edward Heath's Government and whose limericks were a source of pride

THE 6th Earl of Limerick enjoyed careers in both the City and in Government, serving in the latter as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade in Edward Heath's administration from 1972 to 1974. He later described the experience as "absolutely not to be missed, and absolutely not to be repeated". His parliamentary career was a two-year interlude in a long association with the merchant bank Kleinwort (later Kleinwort Benson), with which he was associated for 32 years, 23 as a director. This culminated in his appointment as deputy chairman from 1985 to 1987. He was also a member and later a highly effective chairman, from 1979 to 1983, of the British Overseas Trade Board and, from 1984 to 1991, of British Invisibles (formerly the British Invisible Exports Council, now International Financial Services). As such he was a constant proselytiser for invisible exports - believing them to be undervalued by governments - and he used his maiden speech in the House of Lords to assert that the Queen's Award for Industry ought to be extended to those responsible for them.

Limerick was also an enthusiastic skier and a dedicated mountaineer. He was first taken skiing at the age of eight by his father, who had won the Alpine Cup in 1924. Later he was an active member of the Lords and Commons Ski Club and a stalwart of the Anglo-Swiss Parliamentary Ski Association.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, much was made of his name, which Limerick invariably took in good spirit. He in turn always had a few lines for every occasion. After his government appointment, which coincided with his taking the Conservative whip, The Sun ran the following appreciation:-

The Tories have found a big stick:
P. E. Pery, Sixth Earl Limerick,
Warn Nixon, Warn Mao,
They had best look out now,
He's the man who will take Ted's last trick.

Patrick Edmund Pery was the eldest son of the 5th Earl of Limerick and his wife Angela, the first non-royal vice-president of the Red Cross, who became known as the "Countess of Contraception" for her advocacy of family planning in the 1930s. Remarkably, both his parents were appointed GBE and were Companions of Honour. Patrick Pery was educated at Eton and read PPE at New College, Oxford. On coming down he trained as a chartered accountant with Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, qualifying in 1957, before joining Kleinwort the following year where he came under the wing of Ernest Kleinwort. In 1961 Limerick was involved in the merger with Benson.

In 1962, a year after his marriage to a fellow graduate in PPE, Sylvia Lush, he took time out with his new wife - a former employee of the Foreign Office who had been attached to the King and Queen of Nepal during a state visit - to take part in a botanical expedition to Nepal. She trained with the Red Cross in order to serve as medical officer during the trip. She went on to have a distinguished public career in the field of health: she was chairman of the British Red Cross Society, 1985-95; president of the Community Practitioners' and Health Vistors' Association, 1984-2002; and chairman of the Chief Medical Officer's expert group to investigate cot death theories, 1994-98. For her work on sudden infant death she was appointed CBE in 1991.

On succeeding as 6th Earl after the suicide of his father in 1967, Limerick at first sat in the House of Lords as an Independent, speaking largely on trade, finance and latterly education. He took the Conservative whip in April 1972 when he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade. After the general election of 1974 he returned to Kleinwort Benson. In 1975, in his capacity as president of the Association of Chambers of Commerce, he rounded on the television networks for their "cursory, often superficial and generally ignorant" treatment of business matters. He was also anxious to prevent Britain from sliding towards what he described as "the grey economic socialism readily observed in Eastern Europe".

In the hours spent away from his business life he enjoyed being at home at Chiddinglye, the family estate and dairy farm at West Hoathly in West Sussex. The family's links with the city of Limerick had all but died out by the 20th century, but he set about restoring them. He was a frequent guest of the Limerick Civic Trust, and donated items of family importance to a museum in the city. Although his main interest was in trade, Limerick continued the family's military connections, serving as Honorary Colonel of the 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment and of the Inns of Court and City Yeomanry. Among his other business and financial interests were his chairmanships of Pirelli UK, AMP Asset Management and De La Rue. He was also latterly president of the European-Atlantic Group. In later years he became involved with the City of London Polytechnic. He was chairman of the court of governors, 1984-99, during which time it became the London Guildhall University. When the merger with North London Polytechnic to become London Metropolitan University was proposed, he was appointed the new institution's first Chancellor.

Limerick frequently wrote verses for family occasions. Each Christmas he donned his parliamentary robes to recite poetry about Santa Claus for his extended family and estate workers. When House of Lords reform was under the spotlight in December 1999, he put pen to paper for The Times:

The virtues of genes, I insist,
Should not be too lightly dismissed;
If a poll's on the cards
For hereditary Bards -
My name will be found on the list.

Just a few months ago he abseiled down Canary Wharf as part of the Lord Mayor of London's "Square Smile" event to raise money for mental health charities. Two weeks before his sudden death he was skiing with his son and four grandchildren. Limerick was appointed KBE in 1983 for services to exports. A former chairman of the Britain-Australia Society, he was appointed an honorary member of the Order of Australia in 2001. His wife Sylvia survives him, as do a daughter and two sons, the eldest of whom, Viscount Glentworth, a director of Deutsche Bank, succeeds as 7th Earl.

The 6th Earl of Limerick, KBE, was born on April 12, 1930. He died from a heart attack on January 8, 2003, aged 72.

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