Sir Sidney Gordon


Born: 20 April, 1917, in Glasgow.

Died: 11 April, 2007, in Hong Kong, aged 89.

SIR Sidney Gordon had a remarkable career in Hong Kong, where, for half a century, he was one of the leading figures in business and the many social and charitable societies that were a fundamental part of the then colony's life.

He was a man of much energy and drive but blessed with a courtesy which assured him respect and popularity throughout the community.

After being a distinguished senior partner of an accountancy firm, Sir Sidney assumed many positions of importance. In 1999, he was honoured with the Grand Bauhinia Medal, which is the highest award under the Hong Kong system and recognises the recipient's contribution to the wellbeing of Hong Kong.

Sidney Samuel Gordon was the son of the managing director of British Lion Films in Scotland. He attended Hyndland School, a non-denominational school in Glasgow's West End. He was a determined pupil and went on to Glasgow University before studying accountancy with the Glasgow firm of Wilson Stirling.

Because of ill health - he had suffered from pleurisy as a child - Sir Sidney did not see active service during the war. Instead he spent the conflict in the accounts department at the Nobel division of ICI at Ardeer in Ayrshire. The town's munitions factory was a regular target for enemy bombers.

In 1947 Sir Sidney, through a colleague at Ardeer, was offered a post with the Hong Kong accounts firm Lowe, Bingham and Thomsons. By 1950 he was a partner and soon become an integral part of Hong Kong. He enjoyed, and became much involved with, its cosmopolitan culture and traditions. In 1956 Sir Sidney was appointed senior partner of the firm and assisted the development of some of the most important commercial businesses in the colony.

His excellent relationship with the prominent businessman Lord Kadoorie resulted in Sir Sidney assuming many influential directorships.

The Kadoorie family had come to Hong Kong from Baghdad and he was the first native of Hong Kong to receive a life peerage. They had built up a remarkable empire that ranged from ownership of the power station through banking to the famous Peninsula Hotel on the Kowloon waterfront.

Sir Sidney's firm belief in strict financial control and careful management of resources reflected that of the Kadoorie family, and his advice was much in demand as the Kadoorie companies expanded and increased in value.

Sir Sidney's astute financial brain proved invaluable when competitors tried to bid for profitable subsidiaries, and his canny management of the company's finances was rewarded in 1992, when he succeeded Lord Kadoorie as chairman of China Light and Power.

Sir Sidney was thus involved in the commissioning and building of the controversial Daya Bay nuclear power station at Shenzhen - across the border in China. It started operating in 1993 but Sir Sidney saw the project through with much careful diplomacy.

When he retired from Lowe Bingham in 1970, Sir Sidney joined the parent board of the Kadoorie empire, Sir Elly Kadoorie and Sons, and Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, the owner of the renowned Peninsula Hotel.

It is one of the world's most luxurious hotels, dubbed the "grande dame of the Far East" - and has a fleet of Rolls Royces and helicopters available for its guests. Sir Sidney was a director of the company for 40 years and then its chairman. He later served as chairman of Schroders Asia, a joint company set up with the London merchant bank.

But it was his many other contributions to Hong Kong public life that earned Sir Sidney the respect of the entire community. In 1968 he was one of the founders, and honorary treasurer, of the Community Chest, a charity set up to co-ordinate welfare services throughout the colony.

Sir Sidney was a magistrate and chaired various university grants committees. As well as serving as president of the Hong Kong chamber of commerce, he was an honorary steward of the Jockey Club and president of the Hong Kong Cricket Club.

His lifelong passion was golf and he acted as captain (and president 1983-91) of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club (in 1996 the name was changed to the Hong Kong Golf Club). In 1989 the club celebrated its centenary and Sir Sidney was a keen supporter of all the events, including the first Johnnie Walker Classic the following year, won by Nick Faldo.

Sir Sidney was made a CBE in 1968 and knighted in 1972. He married Olive Eldon in 1950. She died in 1992 and he is survived by their two adopted daughters.

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