Life
14 Dec 2018 01:33pm

Just what the doctor ordered

Jack Ladeveze was determined to do his bit for the medical profession, despite choosing accountancy. He tells Peter Taylor-Whiffen how his passion has endured

Just what the doctor ordered 630
Caption: Photography: Richard Ansett
When he was 18, Jack Ladeveze began studying medicine. Seventy years on, he chairs an organisation funding student doctors and groundbreaking heart research, and is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Court of Patrons. All because he became an accountant instead.

“Illness forced me to halt my medical studies,” he recalls. “My father’s business was having trouble with its accountant, so I trained up to understand the books.”
Ladeveze began articles in 1946 at West End firm KR Reedhead & Co (“run by an RAF wing-commander and squadron leader”) and spent the rest of his career in London, moving to Smallfield, Fitzhugh and Fillett and then Coopers. But his working life changed direction when he became finance director for a client, radio and latterly phone mast manufacturer Coubro & Scrutton.

“The firm was owned by the Linder family. When the managing director Leslie Linder died in 1973, I became MD and his sister Enid became the controlling shareholder. I helped her set up a foundation, and then she died in 1980 and I retired as MD decades ago. But nearly 40 years on, I’m still the foundation’s chairman.”

The Enid Linder Foundation began by bequeathing Leslie Linder’s vast collection of original Beatrix Potter watercolours to the V&A, but was soon giving grants supporting other arts organisations and medical causes.

“We wanted to help medical students with their funds during electives. The first year we helped three from Guy’s – three years later we had 400 applicants. We now offer grants to students at 10 universities.”

But the foundation also finances cutting-edge, life-saving research: “The University of Bristol is developing infant heart valves using the child’s stem cells, rather than the pig valves currently used. That’s extremely exciting. We fund bio-mechanical hip and knee joint research at Bath Spa University, and also give money to Médecins Sans Frontières.”

Reflecting the Linders’ love of the arts, the foundation also sponsors the annual V&A Illustrator Awards and contributes to the National Children’s Orchestra. “It’s a responsibility, fulfilling someone’s legacy,” says Ladeveze, who lives in Bath. “There are five of us trustees, giving out around £500,000 a year, and we follow up to ensure the money is used correctly.”

But it’s not all work and no play for Ladeveze who, at the age of 89, has recently completed a Masters in nature and travel writing. “Travel is my passion,” he says. “My wife worked for Swiss Air and we got the bug then, and have never lost it. We’ve been to the South Pacific, Thailand, Chile, Easter Island, broken down in the Atacama Desert, and been caught in a force 9 gale off Iceland.
“We don’t have the health we had 30 years ago, but I believe in taking life as it comes, while we can still get around.”