Nick Grant

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Simon Brown
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Nick Grant

Post by Simon Brown » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:38 am

Nick Grant, Chairman of Duncan Lawrie when they supported the English chess teams, has died. I have good memories of him from my days as BCF International Director. Obituary from the Times below.

"Nicholas Grant’s friendship with Ted Hughes made him the money man of choice for authors and artists, even if he and Hughes were happier casting a rod than talking about royalties.
The pair met in 1980 when a mutual friend tried to interest Hughes in buying an outrageously expensive collection of carved Japanese netsuke buckles. Grant was invited along, rather optimistically, to arrange a bank loan to help the poet to pay for the purchase.
As soon as Grant and Hughes discovered their mutual love of fishing, all talk of buckles was set aside and the evening was spent swapping fishing yarns. They went fly-fishing in Ireland together.
This friendship brought Grant into contact with all sorts of literary people, among them Sir Michael Morpurgo, the author of War Horse.
His connections brought in a raft of new banking accounts for Duncan Lawrie, the boutique London private bank of which he was founder-chairman. He revelled in the title of “banker to the literary set”. His catch included musicians and artists as well as authors, poets and playwrights.
Although Hughes was not immensely wealthy, he opened an account with the bank and by the time of his death in 1998 had quite a decent income from his writing, along with the royalties from his first wife, Sylvia Plath.
Grant was struck by the paradox of the big, bluff Yorkshireman and the tortured, sensitive poet. Hughes gave Grant inscribed copies of his poems which progressed from “Yours sincerely” to “Love, Ted”. Long after Hughes’s death, Grant continued to reflect on this strange crossing of paths.
When Grant launched a glossy magazine for customers, Hughes wrote and illustrated a short story, How God Got His Golden Head, for the first issue. The magazine later ran a piece by Sir Kingsley Amis, whose literary agent was a client. Amis died before the magazine went to print and this became his last published piece of writing.
Grant’s literary friendships were a source of fascination to his four daughters of whom the eldest, Marianna, works for her husband’s construction company; Joanna manages properties; and Sarah is a school librarian. The youngest, Victoria, works for social services in southwest London. A son, David, died in infancy.
Nicholas Airth Grant, known as Nicko, was born in Woking, Surrey, in 1931, the second of three children. His father, Norman, was a Scots-born chartered accountant who was wounded during the First World War.
Soon after the onset of the Second World War, Nicholas and his siblings joined their mother, Doris, on a ship bound for India, where their father was finance director with a British trading company. When the ship docked in Bombay (now Mumbai), Grant said: “Mummy, who is that fat man waving at us?” To which his mother replied: “Shh, dear, that’s your father.”
The children were enrolled at the Hallett War School, Nainital, in the foothills of the Himalayas. They learnt how to shoot in case the Japanese invaded or the locals turned on the British. While practising archery, Grant shot too high. Looking over the garden wall, he saw a man lying in the road with an arrow sticking out of his head. Fortunately, the injury was not serious and the man went on his way with a little baksheesh to ease the indignity.
The Indian adventure was marred by the death of Grant’s mother from liver cancer in 1945. Grant completed his schooling at Marlborough College in Wiltshire.
In 1949, he started work as an articled clerk with a firm of accountants in the City. After qualifying in 1954, he undertook National Service in Liverpool. Grant wrote in his memoirs: “One of the saddest sights was the young Malaysian wives, who were very beautiful in their own tropical environment, arriving on a damp, grey, cold, foggy morning in Liverpool, with skins looking as grey as the morning itself, and undoubtedly wondering what they’d got themselves into.” He wondered how long many of the marriages lasted.
In 1956 he married Mavis Pinder, a Surrey woman whom he had known only a short time. Returning to England in 1961 after five years in Canada, Grant took a job with a firm called Alex Lawrie Factors, which helped companies to manage their cashflow. A decade later, he proposed that they start a bank. He named it Duncan Lawrie, taking the names of two Scotsmen who had gone off to India in the 1860s. It amused him that clients assumed Duncan Lawrie was one of those Scottish banking houses that had been around for more than 100 years.
The bank had offices in Belgravia and became well known for sponsoring the England chess team. In 1986, Duncan Lawrie hosted the opening party for the World Chess Championship final between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov at the Park Lane Hotel. Grant welcomed the guest of honour, Margaret Thatcher, who got the name of the bank wrong in her address and ignored him for the rest of the evening.
When the bank proposed investing in Asil Nadir’s Polly Peck, which was the hottest ticket in town in the late 1980s, Grant told the investment department that under no circumstances was it to buy the company’s stock. He was none too pleased when staff ignored his instruction and lost the lot.
Grant retired as chairman of Duncan Lawrie in 2001. He spent much of his generous pension building a school in Sri Lanka.
He also arranged a loan to convert a dilapidated Victorian courthouse in south London into the Jamyang Buddhist Centre; Grant was impressed by Buddhism’s mindfulness and serenity. He donated his state pension of £8,000 a year to double the salary of Jamyang’s director, Alison Murdoch.
By then divorced, Grant spent much of the rest of his life in his flat near Buckingham Palace.
Good natured, he held court at the Goring Hotel, that favourite of Thatcher, where he dined two or three times a week. He was on first-name terms with everybody. Arthritis made his feet so swollen that he had to wear trainers with the laces loosely tied, yet he always looked well turned out.
Grant reacted to the recent decision to wind up Duncan Lawrie as seeing “30 years’ work go down the drain”.
He took a practical view of death and joked about wanting to spend more time in one of London’s Death Café outlets, where people get together to “drink tea, eat cake and discuss death”.
Nicholas Grant, banker, was born on March 26, 1931. He died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis on November 4, 2018, aged 87

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JustinHorton
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Re: Nick Grant

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:29 am

Looking over the garden wall, he saw a man lying in the road with an arrow sticking out of his head. Fortunately, the injury was not serious and the man went on his way with a little baksheesh to ease the indignity
What a really foul passage.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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David Sedgwick
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Re: Nick Grant

Post by David Sedgwick » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:40 am

Simon Brown wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:38 am
Nick Grant, Chairman of Duncan Lawrie when they supported the English chess teams, has died. I have good memories of him from my days as BCF International Director.
As do I.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Nick Grant

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:07 pm

Nick was such a gentle man. Duncan Lawrie were wonderful sponsors to English chess. I believe it started with Nick contacting Harry Golombek, as Times Correspondent, asking what they could do for English chess. They then sponsored the English teams.
David Anderton was, of course, the prime contact.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Nick Grant

Post by David Sedgwick » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:09 am

There is an obituary by David Anderton at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/rip-nicholas-grant/.

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