Obituary: Kenneth William Green, businessman

Ken Green, financial services expert and cricketer who enjoyed nurturing up and coming players. Picture: Contributed
Ken Green, financial services expert and cricketer who enjoyed nurturing up and coming players. Picture: Contributed
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Born: 3 September, 1940, in Edinburgh. Died: 30 June, 2015, in Copthorne, West Sussex, aged 74.

Kenneth William Green – or Ken as he was most commonly known – was both a team player of high order, whether it be in sport or business – and a leader and a catalyst for change.

He went to his local primary school in Colinton in Edinburgh then completed his secondary education at George Watson’s College, becoming Senior Cadet in the Combined Cadet Force then head boy in his final year.

He went to the University of Edinburgh, graduating with a first-class Honours degree majoring in economics, a subject, he believed, which helped explain the basic foundations of life.

An all-round sportsman, Ken excelled in rugby and cricket but it was the latter in which he made an enduring mark. He was George Watson’s cricket captain in his final year although cheerfully ruffled establishment feathers by subsequently declining to play for the Watsonians.

Instead he played for the University of Edinburgh and with all the top student players in the Scottish Universities X1. After Watson’s tight-knit old school-tie network he relished the range of people from all walks of life and countries that he met at university.

A graduate traineeship drew him into the world of large companies, and down to the north of England initially with Royal Insurance and then with Procter and Gamble. With his sharp sense of humour, on visits back to Edinburgh, he would then describe his occupation as making soap.

In fact, he rose to responsible project management positions. One was with Abbey Life in London – a job he commuted to while living in West Sussex. He was a head of sales but, as a creative and inveterate entrepreneur, decided to set up his own insurance brokerage called Green Denman and Co.

He maintained contact with colleagues in Abbey Life, however, and was the driving force behind the creation of Skandia Life Assurance Company. He was a founding shareholder at Skandia and took out its first ever policy. He declined closer involvement, however, as his own business grew from strength to strength.

The move to England had fortuitously placed Ken close to the top players of Lancashire Country Cricket Club and he played as a wicket keeper for Eric Taylor’s X1, and in 1973 he was playing for Sussex in the 2nd X1 Championship.

At the same time he was a playing member of MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) which manages the Lords cricket ground in London. In 1976 he went on an MCC tour to Denmark and Holland.

He also played for the Duchess of Norfolk’s X1 based at Arundel Castle cricket grounds and for 25 years sponsored matches there. In the process he formed enduring friendships with all-time greats such as Colin Cowdrey.

Essentially a self-made man who had started life from relatively unassuming beginnings as the son of a master butcher, he never lost sight of the need to encourage young people in their endeavours.

For 28 years he funded the annual Kenneth Green Prize at George Watson’s College. With the aim of fostering independent learning and a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, this was awarded to third year pupils taught in the Economics and Modern Studies Department who researched and wrote the best projects on topics of their own choosing.

In the cricket world Ken was also instrumental in the establishment in 1985 of the Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation, which gave playing opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The following year he became a founder trustee of the Sussex Young Cricketers Educational Trust (subsequently titled Sussex Cricket in the Community Trust)which gave opportunities for both boys and girls to develop their cricketing interests and skills.

Ken first met Lorna Dunn – then a pupil at George Watson’s Ladies College – at the college’s boys versus girl’s hockey match. Lorna went on to train as a PE teacher and to be mother to their three children, Andrew, Michael and Fiona, in a marriage which lasted just a few months short of 50 years.

Ken’s hitherto robust health was blighted in February 2008 by a stroke which led to the winding down of his business a few years later. A diagnosis of vascular dementia was a further blow. Lorna cared for Ken at home for as long as she could until he was placed, just four months ago, in a care home. Aspirated pneumonia finally took him away and he died in hospital with Lorna at his side.

As well as his wife and three children Ken is survived by his brother David and by five grandchildren Emily, Tilly, William, Zara and Arabella.