Memorial to celebrate the life and work of Lord Avebury, Eric Lubbock (1928 – 2016)
Eric Reginald Lubbock, the 4th Baron Avebury, died on 14 February 2016 following a long struggle with myelofibrosis. Each stage of his life was quite different from the previous and his range of interests were wide. During the memorial celebration, video excerpts were shown of the Orpington By-election result, Liberal Life: Eric at the National Liberal Club, interviewed by Liberal historian Seth Thevoz and the Hon John William Lubbock, the National Secular Award and the Inaugural Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize.
Lord Avebury’s devotion and commitment to the Department of Engineering Science spanned over fifty years. During these years he played a pivotal role as Chairman of the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Fund, a trust fund set up in 1957 in the memory of Eric’s Father who was also an undergraduate at Balliol College. The Fund was of special importance to Lord Avebury – ‘only ill-health or a clash with a sitting of the House of Lords would ever cause him to miss a meeting of the trustees’.
The Maurice Lubbock Memorial Fund supported the Lubbock Scholarship, the senior Scholarship in Engineering at Balliol College. There are now over 50 Lubbock Scholars and Lord Avebury showed interest in them all individually. He was always eager to meet them and hear how their lives and careers were progressing.
The annual Maurice Lubbock Memorial Lecture held in the Department of Engineering Science since 1964 was initiated and continues to be supported by the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Fund. This Lecture remains the Department’s major public event and is instrumental in showcasing a wide range of topical issues in engineering.
This tribute gives a just a short snapshot of Lord Avebury’s life and work:
- 1945: Maths and Engineering (Balliol College)
- 1951: Graduate apprentice at Rolls-Royce Derby
- 1955: Production Engineering Ltd management consultants
- 1957: Set up the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Fund
- 1960: Charterhouse in the City (nominee director on engineering subsidiaries)
- 1962: Winner of the Orpington by-election (one of the biggest by-election upsets in British political history)
- 1964: Chief Whip and party spokesman on science and technology for Liberals in the House of Commons
- 1971: Became 4th Baron Avebury (Liberal Democrat peer for 45 years)
- 1976: Founded the parliamentary human rights group (chair until 1997)
- 2004: Honorary Fellow of Balliol College.
After the memorial event Lyulph Lubbock, Eric’s eldest son and the 5th Baron Avebury, posted this on Facebook: ‘Thank you to everyone who contributed and attended my father's memorial service today. Every speaker was very moving and I feel humbled by everyone coming to share their memories. Although we are in troubled times, it was great to see people from all walks of life come together to celebrate the great idea of turning to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Whilst it is invidious to pick out any individuals, I would especially like to thank Damian Le Bas from Travellers Times who referred to Eric in the warmest of terms, Jeremy Corbyn, who despite the difficulties he is now facing gave a very personal view of Eric and why human rights really matter (and stayed for the whole proceedings) and Dr Saeed Shehabi who really gave us an appreciation of how loved Eric was by many Bahrainis who admired his incorruptibility. It was also really gratifying to see so many of his liberal friends present as he never wavered in his commitment to the party. Stephen Claypole was a great and very engaging MC and my sister Victoria did extremely well representing the family. The whole proceedings were a lovely humorous celebration and not sombre at all. The tributes did make me feel quite emotional though’.
There must be a huge community of organisations and individuals greatly in debt to Lord Avebury – the Department of Engineering Science is certainly among them.
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