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David Prior

David Prior

Areas of Interest

Politics and Government, Business

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of the University, 2001


Born in Suffolk and educated at Charterhouse, David Prior was Member of Parliament for North Norfolk from 1997 to 2001. He is Chairman of Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. After reading Law at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he was called to the Bar in 1977. He began his professional life at Lehman Brothers in New York, later transferring to Lazard Freres. He was seconded to British Steel and worked on the restructuring process alongside Sir Ian McGregor before being appointed Commercial Director. David was elected MP for North Norfolk in 1997 and was appointed Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. He has a special interest in education, having served as Governor of Taverham High School in Norwich and as Governor of the Edinburgh Road School for special needs children in Holt, Norfolk. He has also served as Trustee of the Burnbrake Trust and is currently the Chairman of the Care Quality Commission.

In 2001 The Hon David Prior received the honorary degree of Doctor of the University.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctorate of The University to The Honourable David Gifford Leathes Prior, barrister, expert in corporate finance, company chairman, journalist, sportsman, former Member of Parliament, Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.

David Prior was born in Brampton, Suffolk, the eldest of four children whose father is Lord Prior, previous Chancellor of this University. He started school at Orwell Park in Ipswich, then moved to Charterhouse School before coming up to read Law at Pembroke College, Cambridge University. He subsequently studied at Gray's Inn and was called to the Bar in 1977. He began work with Lehman Brothers in New York as a Corporate Finance Trainee, later transferring to Lazard Freres. In 1980 he was seconded to British Steel with Sir Ian MacGregor (a partner in Lazard Freres) and worked on their restructuring as Managing Director of their downstream processing and distribution business, later becoming their Commercial Director. During this time he was a frequent visitor to the Far East, Japan and South East Asia, setting up a joint venture in 1986, to sell British Steel products into China. Since leaving British Steel, he has managed and invested in several industrial businesses, including Bore Steel Group, Lurmark and IPS Group.

He became the Member of Parliament for North Norfolk in 1997 and was subsequently appointed Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. Although he lost his seat in this year's General Election, he retained these posts until October. He has now returned to business activities and also writes part-time for the Eastern Daily Press.

David Prior has a special interest in education and the marginalized in society. During the 1990s he served as a Governor of Taverham High School, which is a large comprehensive school in Norwich and is presently a Governor of Fakenham High School and Sixth Form College. As an MP he consistently sought to improve facilities for children with special learning difficulties, wherever possible integrated with mainstream schools. Currently he is a Visitor (Governor) to the Edinburgh Road School for special needs children with severe and profound learning difficulties in Holt, Norfolk, which was started some forty years ago. Through his "hugely important" support when an MP, the entire school will be realizing a dream of moving into new premises, on the site of Sherringham School. The Edinburgh Road Sixth Form has already transferred and the move will be completed in 2003. One unique feature on the new, combined site, will be a mixed nursery school for both regular and special needs children.

David has also been a Trustee of the Burnbake Trust, a charity formed in 1975 with two aims: to aid the rehabilitation of offenders and ex-offenders, through active participation in, and enjoyment of, the arts. The Trust makes available art and craft materials to inmates of HM Prisons and organizes twelve exhibitions each year to display the resulting paintings and crafts, which are then sold to the public. The second aim of the Trust is to train in life skills, people who are slow learners or recovering from mental health problems. This may be through supervised activities in forestry (rural restoration), grass or hedge cutting, carpentry or furniture recycling. At Cambridge University he founded the Students Industrial Society to encourage students to consider careers in industry. This has developed into one of the most successful student organizations with branches, now, in most UK universities.

These activities indicate the capacity for this international high-flyer businessman to reach out to the less fortunate in society and to seek to enrich and improve their lives.

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on the Honourable David Gifford Leathes Prior an Honorary Doctorate of the University."