A tribute to Dr Don McCarthy CBE, Founding Donor of British School of Fashion

23 July 2018

A tribute to Dr Don McCarthy CBE, Founding Donor of British School of Fashion

Dr Don McCarthy CBE

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pamela Gillies CBE, has led the University's tributes for Dr Don McCarthy CBE, Honorary Graduate and Founding Patron to the British School of Fashion, who sadly passed away on Saturday morning after a long and courageous battle against cancer. 

Professor Gillies said "I am so very sad to hear of the passing of Don. I was very fond of him and admired the way he conducted his business relationships and respected his judgement. He gave many of our students from difficult backgrounds the wherewithal, but most importantly the inspiration, to take the opportunities that life has to offer through education. I, like many others, shall miss him greatly."

Dr Don McCarthy CBE was a hugely successful and well respected British Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. His career in fashion retailing spanned over 40 years with Don most known for his time as Executive Chairman of House of Fraser. 

Regularly named in Drapers top 100 most influential people in fashion retailing he received a Drapers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, a Retail Legends Award from the Retail Trust in also in 2015, and a CBE in 2017 for his services to business and philanthropy. These accolades recognised not only Don's astute business acumen but also his commitment to giving back to the sector. Don regularly shared the benefit of his wisdom and offered support and mentorship to many of the UK's leading fashion retailers today.

A generous philanthropist throughout his life, Don supported many great causes, including The Royal Marsden Hospital who treated his first wife Diane and the retailing trade charity the Retail Trust. 

In November 2010 Don was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to fashion retailing. Don went on to become a great ambassador, generous donor and dear friend to the University. 

On September 11, 2013, he became the British School of Fashion's (BSoF) Founding Patron after he generously provided £500,000 seed funding. This transformational gift enabled the University to establish a unique postgraduate school, in the heart of London, with a mission to educate, challenge and develop a new generation of fashion and luxury business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, his commitment inspired other industry leaders to join him in providing not only financial support but advice and expertise that has helped to shape a unique range of programmes and experiences for our students such as inspirational masterclasses, industry placements and visits. Since opening, the BSoF has graduated over 350 students.

Don has also personally supported a number of students from challenging backgrounds providing them with both the means and inspiration to continue their educational journey and realise their career ambitions. 

Knowing how much Don enjoyed hearing about the progress of our students and the updates from his own scholars, in 2016 Professor Pamela Gillies CBE thanked Don again for his transformational gift to the University by announcing the University would fund an annual Dr Don McCarthy CBE scholarship for talented students in need, something Don was extremely humbled by.

All at the University who knew Don and benefitted from his incredible generosity of spirit extend their sincere condolences to his wife Julie, children John and Hannah and also to his dear colleague and friend Stuart.  

Share/Save/Bookmark