Remembering Lord Selborne

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of John Palmer, the 4th Earl of Selborne (24 March 1940–12 February 2021).

Lord Selborne was the Chairman of the Rank Prize Funds for nearly 30 years, retiring only in 2015. He led the organisation through its formative years with great wisdom and foresight as well as charm and charisma. His legacy is the universally high esteem in which the Rank Prize Funds are held today.

Lord Selborne was a highly respected voice in the scientific community. His influence on British science was vast, particularly in the areas of energy and environment, technology and education. He was a member of the House of Lords from 1971 to 2020, with particular commitments to the Science and Technology Committee and Digital and Communications Committee. He was Chancellor of the University of Southampton between 1996 and 2006.

Lord Selborne (centre) as Guest of Honour at the 2018 Rank Prize presentation.

The Earl of Selborne had a particularly deep knowledge of UK agriculture and supported the sector tirelessly throughout his career. He was Chairman of the Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC) from 1982 to 1989 and President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England from 1987 to 1988. He was a member of the NEDC Food Sector Group and a patron of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. Closer to home, he had a passion for British fruit production.

Alongside his role in the Rank Prize Funds, Lord Selborne provided leadership to many other learned societies, including the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Entomological Society. In 1991 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Our thoughts are with Lord Selborne’s family at this time.