Dorset lives – A ‘rather tall’ man
Michel Hooper-Immins talks to the outgoing president of the Society of Dorset Men, Sir Anthony Jolliffe
Published in April ’11
Weymouth-born Sir Anthony Jolliffe GBE DL DSc DMus, the 655th Lord Mayor of London is not only the only Dorset man to ever be elected to this high office, but a respected City accountant and a pioneer in trading with China. For a year from November 1982, he became the Chief Magistrate of the City of London, Chancellor of the City of London University and Admiral of the Port of London – living in the luxurious surroundings of the Mansion House.
Albert Brown, his great-grandfather, had been coxswain of the Weymouth lifeboat and a fisherman. Anthony Jolliffe remembers watching the busy harbour scene from Albert’s window on Cove Row; it was here that a deep love for Weymouth was born, one which he has never lost. His father Robert was in the RAF and spent a year of the war at Portland radar station, on top of the Verne. Mother Vi was a tennis ace, winning many tournaments around Dorset. His uncle Richard Crumbleholme ran a building company in Great George Street and became a trustee of Weymouth Sailing Club. Young Anthony quickly learned the basics of sailing and enjoys it to this day.
Aged 17, he left Portchester School in Bournemouth and decided to carve out a career in London. In 1964, he qualified as a chartered accountant and, with ever-present drive and ambition, soon started his own accountancy practice. By 1970, Jolliffe’s had offices in six UK cities. Six years later, he had affiliated offices in over a dozen countries and in 1976 joined Sir Kenneth Cork, the famous Receiver, in partnership and the firm was renamed Jolliffe Cork. ‘I try to set targets and aim to achieve them, which always gives life a real purpose,’ reveals Sir Anthony.
Elected an Alderman of the City of London for Candlewick ward in 1973, this was the first step on the ladder to becoming Lord Mayor, which he achieved nine years later. Dating from 1182, the position of Lord Mayor of London is one of the most ancient offices in the kingdom; the Lord Mayor presides over many important events, including riding in the golden coach during the traditional procession in November. ‘The Best of Britain’ was the theme for his year, travelling across the UK and abroad, ceaselessly promoting Britain and its industries. The late Christopher Pope, an old friend and then Chairman of Eldridge Pope in Dorchester, brewed a bottled ale – whose label proclaimed ‘Lord Mayor’s Ale – a son of Dorset’ to mark the occasion. Honorary degrees of Doctor of Science from the City University and Doctor of Music from the Guildhall School of Music followed. On his election, the new Lord Mayor was honoured Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire and in October 1982 he was knighted by The Queen at Buckingham Palace. ‘You are rather tall,’ joked the Sovereign, ‘you will have to bend down a little more!’ Sir Anthony was commissioned as a Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset in 2006 and in that capacity, welcomed The Queen on her visit to Weymouth in 2009.
With his customary foresight, Sir Anthony realised 22 years ago that there would be great opportunities in trading with China. Today, his factories in China export to Europe, the USA and the UK, making stainless steel commercial kitchen, cooking and refrigeration equipment. ‘We have salespeople in Europe and the USA, but our main aim in the future will to supply the Chinese domestic market. By 2015, I expect 80% of production to be sold within China – the biggest market in the world. There are 1.3 billion Chinese, whereas Europe, the United States and South America combined number only one billion.’
His factories are in Shandong province, which is larger than the whole of the UK with 95 million inhabitants. Sir Anthony is the only British businessman to be a Special Adviser to the Provincial Governor and to the Foreign Trade Bureau. ‘I see China as a great opportunity and not a threat,’ he declares. ‘The Chinese need us as much as we need them – we are the only wholly British-owned manufacturer in the province. I’m also encouraging the Chinese to invest in British companies, thereby using Chinese money to strengthen the financial base of companies struggling to survive in the UK.’
During his year as Lord Mayor of London, Sir Anthony invited members of The Society of Dorset Men to a sumptuous banquet at the Mansion House; it was a wonderfully glittering occasion that is fondly remembered by all those who attended. When Simon Wingfield Digby retired as President of the Society in 1984, Sir Anthony was unanimously elected to succeed him. Sir Frederick Treves had been the Founder President in 1904, followed by Thomas Hardy in 1907. Having loyally served for 27 years, twice as long as any of the previous fifteen incumbents, Sir Anthony has decided to retire later this month, at the Portland annual general meeting.
‘I feel the time has come to have a new face at the helm,’ confides Sir Anthony. ‘I stand down at a time when the Society has never been stronger and I’m sure that under the guidance of a new President, together with their excellent Chairman Stuart Adam, the Society will go from strength to strength in the years ahead. Roy Adam MBE and Gordon Hine, Chairman and Secretary for many years, laid secure foundations. Today, Roy’s son Stuart and Secretary Hayne Russell are doing a fantastic job keeping the Society so successful.’
He, Lady Georgina Jolliffe and his daughter Emma have always supported the Society’s events. ‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of being President. Georgina, Emma and I have made lots of friends; it’s been a lot of fun. As a family, we will continue to support The Society of Dorset Men, which will always have a special place in our hearts.’
From his home and office in Weymouth, overlooking the waters that will host the 2012 Olympic sailing, Sir Anthony Jolliffe is unhappy with the expense and the upheaval. ‘I didn’t want the Olympics in the UK; [it is] an expense we can ill afford. I believe Jacques Chirac did France a great favour when he upset the IOC just before they decided to award the Games to London. Already there are arguments about what should be done with the London stadium. The Olympics are very short-lived, only three weeks, although one lasting benefit will hopefully be an improved infrastructure and the possibility of job creation in a very rundown part of London. The sailing Olympics will do nothing for Portland, most islanders are unexcited by 2012.’
‘Why is Weymouth replacing roundabouts with traffic lights, when the rest of the world is doing the opposite?’ questions Sir Anthony. ‘I believe the work has been extremely badly organised, to the detriment of local tradespeople, who have lost a huge amount of revenue over the past year. The chaotic roadworks have caused disruption for fifteen months, I think Dorset County Council got it very badly wrong. I believe spending £130 million on the new road and traffic lights is a waste of money. Many are finding the new traffic lights are causing major problems at the Westham intersection and severe difficulties on Boot Hill. I would rather have seen the money invested in other ways to benefit the people of Dorset.’