Cremation industry remembers Earl Grey as ‘a lovely man’ and ‘inspirational leader’
13:00 23 September 2013
A passionate and well-loved member of the House of Lords, a descendant of a former prime minister and chairman of the Golders Green-based London Cremation Company, has died aged 74.
Richard Grey, the sixth Earl Grey, who was born in 1939, died after a short illness on September 10.
Lord Grey’s ancestry included some famous figures, including the second Earl Grey, prime minister from 1830 to 1834, who gave his name to Earl Grey tea and was responsible for the landmark Reform Act of 1832.
As well as his work in the House of Lords, he was president of the Cremation Society of Great Britain, which promotes the practice of incinerating corpses, and chairman of the London Cremation Company in Golders Green.
Cremation Society chairman Harvey Thomas said: “Richard was a lovely man. He was an inspirational leader of both the Cremation Society and the London Cremation Company for over two decades, during which time both have moved significantly forward.
“His delightful personality and fabulous sense of humour were just two reasons why he was able to achieve so much, both in business and in his charity work.
“He used to say in board meetings, ‘We are a happy company’. This is certainly true and Richard’s leadership played a major role in making it so. We all miss him personally as a loyal friend and the cremation movement will miss him deeply as an inspired leader.”
After studying quantity surveying, Lord Grey became a full-time member of the House of Lords from 1976 onwards. He was the Liberal Party’s spokesman on social services, giving particular attention to disability policies.
In 1979, he hosted the visit to London of 350 indigenous Canadians to help them lobby Parliament for the return of their land rights and for political recognition.
Among his many duties, Lord Grey was an official observer of the 1980 election in Rhodesia –which paved the way for the then British colony’s independence as Zimbabwe – and secretary to the House of Lords small business group from 1980 to 1984.
In 1992, the board of the London Cremation Company, based in Hoop Lane, Golders Green, invited Lord Grey to be its chairman and shortly afterwards he was asked to take on the charity role of president of the Cremation Society of Great Britain.
Lord Grey is survived by his wife Stephanie, the Dowager Countess Grey. His funeral is expected to be held at Golders Green Crematorium on either October 14 or 15.