Fashion retailer honoured in £500m investment pledge
The University of Leicester has announced that its new cutting-edge medical teaching and research building is to be named in honour
of the fashion retailer George Davies and opened by Sir David Attenborough OM and Michael Attenborough CBE.
The George Davies Centre will be officially opened on Saturday 11 November. It represents the largest investment in medical
teaching and applied research by a UK university in the last decade.
George Davies is the founder of the high street brands Next (based in Leicestershire), George at Asda and Per Una for Marks & Spencer.
He will join the Attenboroughs, other philanthropic donors, senior management of the University, representatives from local healthcare
organisations and staff and students of the College of Life Sciences in celebrating this landmark building.
Sir David and Michael Attenborough are co-patrons of the University of Leicester’s Centenary, which the University will commemorate
from 2018 to 2021.
Attendance at the opening is by invitation only.
On Tuesday 26 September, George Davies made a gift of £5.15 million, the University’s largest-ever philanthropic gift from an
individual, towards transformative research into peripheral vascular disease and to establish the Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic at
Glenfield Hospital. His generous support will help to save limbs and lives in Leicester and beyond.
George Davies said: “My great passion is supporting patients with health challenges, both in the UK and internationally. We are
privileged to have a great team of surgeons, physicians, health workers and NHS administrators in Leicester. What is important to me is
to continually work closely and be part of this team in order to achieve our goals of saving lives and limbs. There is no greater feeling
than being able to give something back.”
Acting as a hub to bring together, for the first time, the University’s leading academics, researchers, clinicians and students,
the George Davies Centre will completely transform medical teaching and improve the lives of many patients in the region and beyond.
Housing the University’s Medical School, School of Psychology and Department of Health Sciences, it will provide an environment for
cultivating applied research that will be at the forefront of improved patient safety and the fight against chronic disease.
The Centre was made possible through the generosity of many donors, a number of whom are recognised throughout the building through
the naming of lecture theatres and rooms. These include the Samworth Foundation, Naresh and Bina Popat, the Leicestershire & Rutland
Masonic Charity Association, the Thakrar Family / HKS Motors, the Edith Murphy Foundation, Bhikhu and Saroj Hindocha, Bridget Towle,
Next PLC, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Other donors are recognised through their gifts to the Wladyslaw Sluckin Memorial Fund Appeal, the Sir Robert and Lady Burgess
Teaching Fund and contributions made by University of Leicester alumni and medics.
The building’s completion coincides with the introduction of Leicester Medical School’s innovative new curriculum, which puts
patients at the heart of healthcare education.
The Centre will provide a space for public engagement, including a mental health campaign display linked to a public engagement
campaign. There will also be a display celebrating women in science and medicine as part of the University’s role as a HeForShe IMPACT
The £42 million building, which incorporated investment from the University of Leicester and an ambitious fundraising appeal, is a
state-of-the-art, multi award-winning building that is the largest non-residential building in the UK to meet the Passivhaus Certification
for sustainability and energy performance.
Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “The George Davies Centre is a
landmark in both building design and in the development of medical education and research here at the University of Leicester.
As we invite George Davies, Sir David Attenborough and Michael Attenborough to officially open the building, I am delighted to be able
to celebrate those who have played a part in accomplishing both of these goals.
“This ground-breaking building has been made possible by the generous support of our donors, who I would like to thank personally.
In making a commitment to this project they have also played a vital role in nurturing future generations of clinicians and researchers
working at the cutting-edge.”
Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Life Sciences, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the
official opening of the new George Davies Centre. Designed to bring together the University’s leading academics, researchers,
clinicians and students it provides teaching rooms, offices, lecture theatres, dry lab research facilities and support spaces.
“The new facility delivers a new ‘rapid response’ curriculum for training tomorrow’s doctors along with being the home of our
Psychology and Health Sciences students. The Centre will become a central hub speeding the translation of research to real world
improvements for patient treatment so it is especially fitting to name the building after George Davies, whose generous donation has
enabled a new limb salvage clinic to be opened and the University to invest in new research.”
The University will once again welcome Sir David Attenborough and his nephew, Michael Attenborough CBE, back to campus.
Sir David grew up on the campus, where his father, Frederick Attenborough, was Principal of what was then called University
College Leicester. Michael Attenborough is a celebrated theatre director and artistic director who, in addition to his role as
co-patron of the University’s Centenary, is patron of its Attenborough Arts Centre. The centre is named after his late father,
Bill Friar, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Leicester, said: “The University of Leicester was
established nearly 100 years ago through gifts, large and small, made by the local community to honour loved ones who served and in
many cases died in World War I. The University is a living memorial to their sacrifice, and has as its mission a commitment to
improving the lives of future generations.
“So it is entirely fitting that we are officially opening on Remembrance Day a centre dedicated to saving lives and improving
wellbeing. Through their generosity, our donors are once again helping the University live up to its founding motto: Ut Vitam Habeant –
So That They May Have Life. ”
Courtesy: East Midlands Business Link