ORT UK is deeply saddened to learn of the death of ORT UK’s former Chair, Lord Young of Graffham, at the age of 90. Described as a ‘giant and a visionary’, Lord Young was also President of the World ORT Union from 1990 to 1993 as well as a long-standing supporter of ORT UK.
He had initially supported ORT’s work in the early 1970s, becoming Chairman of British ORT in 1975 and serving in the role for seven years.
Lord Young regularly visited ORT projects, including in Israel and Paris, and became a leading voice for the role of vocational training in alleviating youth unemployment.
In key roles at World ORT he oversaw the move of the organization’s headquarters from Geneva to London in the late 1970s.
Simon Alberga, Deputy President of World ORT and ORT UK Trustee, said: “I had the enormous privilege of knowing and working with David Young for over 26 years. He has been a treasured friend and mentor to me in business, communal and wider matters. I became involved in ORT in large part due to David’s guidance and his own profound ORT legacy, and all of us at ORT will greatly miss his wise counsel, patronage and friendship. Our thoughts are with Lita, Karen, Judith and all the family at this difficult time.”
Mark Mishon, ORT UK Vice President and former Chair and trustee, said: “David Young was a giant and a visionary. More than that he was my friend and mentor for nearly 50 years and a true gentleman. Wise, witty, and always so genial. He was not only blessed with a life full of years, but rewarded with years full of life. ORT, the country and the community owe him a huge debt of gratitude. We will miss him. Our love to his wife Lita, daughters Karen and Judith, and all the family.”
Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “I had the privilege of meeting Lord Young on a number of occasions. His contribution to the ORT network was truly remarkable.
“His efforts over decades not only provided significant drive to ORT’s work, but helped revolutionize how Britain thought about vocational training, apprenticeships and skills. That legacy continues to this day. Our schools, teachers and students will forever appreciate all that he did for ORT.”
It was during his time as leader of British ORT that Lord Young made significant connections in the Conservative Party. He introduced the Education Secretary, Sir Keith Joseph, to ORT and encouraged the government to adopt the organisation’s thoughts on employment and skills.
He developed a close working relationship with Margaret Thatcher and eventually served in her cabinet as Employment Secretary and then Trade and Industry Secretary between 1985 and 1989. He briefly returned to government in 2010.
A solicitor by trade, he pursued a career in property and business, becoming a captain of industry, before his entry into politics.
Lord Young was proud of his Jewish heritage and had long-supported Jewish causes. His grandfather had arrived in Britain from Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century and his father was a baker.
He will be greatly missed at ORT UK and we wish his family long life.