Ronald Gray 1929-2011

Dr Colin Niven writes:

It was an immense privilege to speak in the Chapel on 5th October at the Funeral Service and Celebration of the life of Ronald Gray. Personally, out of the thousands of people I have met, I knew beyond question that I had never met a nicer, more entertaining, or more impressive person than Ronnie. For the record I felt I should enquire of mutual friends, their opinion of him in an unlikely attempt to produce a balanced view. It was a vain task, for literally everybody said he was simply the most charming and loveable man they had ever met.

Alleyn’s School owes more to Ronnie Gray than anyone else in its history. As Chairman of the Alleyn’s section of the Joint Board of Governors of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, chaired by Sir Colin Cole, Garter King of Arms, he worked tirelessly to improve the school’s lot, which culminated in 1995 when it achieved its independence and stood proudly alongside the College, to which he always paid loyal and proper tribute for what has been a very fruitful and happy partnership. Now Ronnie became Chairman of the Alleyn’s Board of Governors and led an exceptional group of men and women, among the most prestigious in the country, with marvellous skill. Nudging, reasoning, cajoling, guiding, controlling, deciding amidst gales of laughter, he oversaw so many important developments.

Encouraging the appointment of excellent staff, the academic results saw the school take its place among the highest in the land. Very often present at cultural events, he worked hard to give us a new hall for plays and assemblies, a new library, a sports hall, the new Junior School that hugely increased the size and potential of the school, a huge new classroom block, and so on, clearing the way for the great new theatre. In that time he worked closely with Derek Fenner and his two successors, firstly myself, then Colin Diggory, and all of us loved having as a new neighbour, two doors away, this tremendous source of wisdom, kindness and shrewd advice.

Ronald George Gray was born in Edinburgh and attended the Royal High School. After National Service he went to Edinburgh University before joining Unilver. He remained with the company, becoming head of marketing and sales and later chairman of its toiletry and fragrance subsidiary Elida Gibbs. After being based with that company in Germany, he returned to the UK to become chairman of Lever Brothers 1984-89.