All those connected to London Playing Fields Foundation were desperately sad to hear of the passing of former Chairman Lord Cadogan on 11th June 2023 following a cardiac arrest aged 86. His contribution to the charity during his eighteen-year tenure as Chairman is incalculable.
Lord Cadogan joined the Foundation in 2001 and within a few months he was conducting a turf cutting ceremony at London Marathon Playing Fields Greenwich with one of our Vice Presidents Bob Wilson. The new accessible pavilion helped to safeguard the long-term future of this vulnerable ground and to transform it into the country’s first dedicated mini-soccer centre with a focus on girls’ development. Given that his first love was football, having been a distinguished centre back in his younger days, at one time even partnering a young Sgt Lawrie McMenemy, it was appropriate that this was one of his official duties. In fact, he was an accomplished all-round sportsman also excelling in golf, cricket and racquets.
He was also no stranger to sport in East London having been Honorary Treasurer of the London Federation of Boys’ Clubs and a volunteer manager to Eton Manor Boys Club in Hackney on land which is now the Olympic Park Hockey Centre. He was later Chairman of Docklands Settlements. More well known, was his dedicated service to Chelsea Football Club between 1963-1982, initially as a Director and subsequently as Chairman.
Via his exemplary leadership, the Foundation enjoyed the most successful and least turbulent period in its entire 133-year history and the charity greatly benefitted from his vast business, property and sporting expertise and experience. Having his steady and wise hand at the helm made all the difference. From those openings of the new pavilions at Fairlop Oak Playing Field and London Marathon Playing Field Greenwich in the early 2000’s to the acquisition of London Marathon Playing Field Greenford in 2007 and the installation of the new 3G pitches at Douglas Eyre Sports Centre and Peter May Sports Centre in the following decade, his tenure presided over a period of significant modernisation of facilities. Ground-breaking projects such as the All Nations Football Programme, Active Angels, Female Coach Development, Green Hearts and Coping Through Football demonstrated the huge social and health benefits of sport and have helped to cement the Foundation’s reputation as a forward thinking, innovative and compassionate organisation. The dozens of threatened playing fields that have been saved through our Fields at Risk Register have also added to our strategic value.
Since the drastic decline in the amount of available statutory funding at the end of the 2000’s, The Foundation’s fundraising output increased enormously; and, thanks to Lord Cadogan’s inspiration, generosity and patronage of our Gala Dinners, the charity reached a financial position that would have been unthinkable two decades earlier.
On retiring as LPFF Chairman in 2019, he became our Honorary Life President. Even in his later years when his health was failing him, he never missed a Gala Dinner and he and the lovely Lady Cadogan just lit up the evening. I loved being in his company and hearing him talk with great insight and passion about conservation, horseracing, Chelsea FC managers of the 1960’s and 1970’s and his beloved estate at Glen Quaich. He never boasted about all the great things that he had done or that his prolific philanthropy had created. He was a force for good whose first instinct was always to help others. We won’t see his like again.
Lord Cadogan was simply a one-off, greatly loved and respected by his fellow Trustees and executive staff for his kindness, modesty and humility. His passion for sport and his understanding of how it could improve the lives of so many combined with his tremendous business acumen, drive and big picture vision made him the perfect Chairman. He will be greatly missed.