Homage to Sir Adrin Cadbury


We all students of corporate law and governance must have heard about and read the Cadbury Committee. This is unfortunate time to pay Homage to Sir Adrin Cadbury. Sir Adrian Cadbury died last Thursday. He was 86. I produce here, a copy of homage paid by Corporate Law and Governance Blog of Robert Goddard, Senior Lecturer in Law, Aston Law, Aston Business School, Birmingham, UK.

Sir Adrian Cadbury died last Thursday. He was 86. He led a full life, a remarkable life, a good life. Obituaries have appeared in several newspapers, including The GuardianDaily Telegraph andFinancial Times.


I first met Adrian over ten years ago. I had started teaching atAston University and had created a new course in corporate governance; he had recently stepped down as Chancellor of the University, a position he held for 25 years. Would he, I wondered, be prepared to come and speak to my students about his chairmanship of the Cadbury Committee? Yes was his answer but he gave much more: for several years he came to many of the classes, describing his role – with typical humility and humour – as that of a teaching assistant.

The students warmed to him immediately. He put me at ease and was very supportive. He would, for example, find a way to agree with something that I had said when speaking with the students. If a student arrived a little late, Adrian would be the first to get up from his seat and make sure the student had the required lecture materials. Together we listened to student presentations on governance frameworks across the world, often learning of the influence of the Cadbury Committee’s Report and Code. Adrian always spoke of the Committee’s work collectively – we, not I – but I wonder if, with a different chairman, the Committee’s work would have had the impact that it did.

In the last lecture that Adrian attended, the students presented him with an album containing hand written messages and copies of some of the photos they had taken of themselves with him: a tangible record of their appreciation for man who, in listening, speaking and engaging with them, had enriched their lives. I was touched when, a little later, he wrote to describe the fun he had had taking part. He had done more than share his knowledge and experience. We learned much from his tone, demeanour and actions: the effort he took in learning individuals’ names, regardless of their place or position; his genuine interest in the students’ academic and wider university experience; the delight he took in sharing his knowledge.

Working with Adrian was a privilege. I will remember, in particular, his humility, his laugh and his ability to inspire others to do their best. He recognised the contribution that everyone was capable of making and will, of course, be remembered for his contribution to the field of corporate governance. The less well known is no less significant. Few probably know the full extent of his public service and charitable work. Much was done in a quiet way across Birmingham, the West Midlands and further afield. Recognition was much more public and I was pleased that Adrian was able, earlier this year, to receive in person the medal of the Order of the Companions of Honour from The Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace.

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