LPFF News

Lord (Jim) Prior

Anonymous 13 December 2016

Lord (Jim) Prior Chairman of London Playing Fields Foundation 1998 - 2001

It is with great sadness that we report on the death of our former Chairman Lord (Jim) Prior who passed away on 12th December.

Best known for his achievements in senior government as Secretary of State for Employment and then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland during Margaret Thatcher’s administration, Lord Prior stood as an MP for Lowestoft and Waveney from 1959- 1987. After leaving politics he became Chairman of GEC until 1998.

He was introduced to LPFF in the mid 1990's by his school friend Peter Nathan who at that time was Chairman of the charity. Jim became Chairman the Peter May Memorial Appeal. He had been a lifelong friend of the great Peter May dating back to their Charterhouse School days and under his stewardship the Appeal raised a staggering £1.4million which was used as matched funding for the charity’s Sports Lottery capital applications for Wadham Lodge Sports Centre (now known as Peter May Sports Centre) and Fairlop Oak Playing Field.

As a keen cricketer and a more than useful footballer, Jim was naturally drawn to the LPFF and its work. He became Chairman in 1998 and, until his retirement in 2001, he steered the charity through some turbulent financial times culminating in the building of the Peter May Sports Centre in 2000 and the new pavilion at Fairlop Oak Playing Field a year later. As well as providing state of the art facilities, both projects included an additional income generator which helped both sites operate viably and provide a model for others looking for a way to provide subsidy free playing fields.

Foundation Chief Executive Alex Welsh said:

“Lord Prior was a man of great intellect, warmth and immense charm. He loved LPFF and what it stands for and was a tower of strength at a pivotal time for the charity. Even through his retirement he kept in regular touch with me providing great advice and helpful introductions to key people. The opening of Peter May Sports Centre (a fitting legacy to his dear friend) was his happiest moment during his tenure as Chairman. I recall commissioning a video to commemorate the event and interviewing him in his office. He quickly scanned my script turned to the camera and delivered a word perfect, note free piece on how the new facility would transform grass roots sport in north east London. Priceless.”

His wife Jane died last year and he is survived by three sons and a daughter.

James Michael Leathes Prior, Lord Prior, politician, businessman and Chairman of London Playing Fields Foundation, born 11 October 1927; died 12 December 2016.

Lord Prior pictured above with Liam Brady at the turf cutting for the facility at Fairlop Oak Playing Field in 2000.