Aerial image of an Asháninka village in the rainforest.

Remembering Sir Michael Uren

Sir Michael Uren OBE, engineer, industrialist and one of Britain’s leading philanthropists, has died at the age of 95.

It is a reflection of Britain’s hidden and sparse culture of philanthropy that Sir Michael Uren is not a household name.

A proud Cornishman and even prouder graduate of Imperial College, Sir Michael led a dynamic life that was full of achievement. Having completed his National Service he founded the shipping group, Civil and Marine, which he went on to transform into an innovative pioneer of sustainable alternatives to cement.

Still in charge of at the age of 83, Sir Michael sold the business but had no plans for a restful retirement. Instead, the substantial proceeds became The Michael Uren Foundation, one of Britain’s most active and pioneering charitable trusts. Even compared to the most celebrated philanthropists, Sir Michael sits in a very select group of those who created fortunes from nothing and then made it their mission to give it away in their lifetime.

Two things helped in this mission.

The first was his longevity. Surrounded by family, friends and his long-term companion Janis Bennett, he lived an exceptionally full 95 years. This meant that his foundation continues to be amongst the most intelligent and nimble on the Charity Commission’s register; they fund what they believe in.

The second was his unshakable belief that even the most intractable problems could be addressed with a combination of research and ingenuity. From the protection of endangered species to tackling climate breakdown, supporting biomedical advancements and safeguarding architectural heritage, he took pleasure in meticulously assessing and investing in organisations that delivered a long-lasting impact.

Sir Michael’s loyal support of Cool Earth was altruism in its purest form. His trust and support allowed us to take great leaps towards a future where rainforest destruction plays no part in climate change.

There is no doubt that The Michael Uren Foundation will continue its work as one of the most influential family-run philanthropic givers within the UK. It is a measure of a man and his family that he will be remembered for the greatest of acts; putting others above self, and thinking ahead to the future and wellbeing of our whole planet.

We thank him and will ensure he is remembered.