Sir Robert Ogden, businessman who ploughed money into education in South Yorkshire, dies aged 86

A successful businessmen who ploughed money into education in South Yorkshire has died aged 86.

Thursday, 10th March 2022, 3:21 pm

Sir Robert Ogden built his fortune through the quarrying, building and mining industries and was a donor to charities in Yorkshire.

He also funded bursaries for youngsters across South Yorkshire, and founded the Robert Ogden School for children with autism in Thurnscoe, which carries his name, having paid for it and donated it to the National Autistic Society.

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Sir Robert Ogden, who has died aged 86

He was still in touch with the school and followed its fortunes

Lorraine Dormand, principal, said: “The staff and pupils at Robert Ogden School will always be grateful to Sir Robert for his generous donation. Heartfelt condolences from everyone at the National Autistic Society to his family and many friends.”

Former Sheffield Council leader Lord Blunkett added his own tribute.

He said: “Sir Robert Ogden was not only someone I admired greatly for his philanthropy but also my friend, and that of my family.

“It is rare that the actions of an individual can influence, never mind change, government policy. But Robert did.

“His philanthropic investment in bursaries for young people in the South Yorkshire coalfield, linked to an agreement with the then-Vice Chancellor of Leeds University for access to undergraduate programmes, was an outstanding example.

“Having learned about and worked with Robert on this, I then got agreement at the time I was Education and Employment Secretary with Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to introduce Education Maintenance Allowances, which assisted so many youngsters to stay on in post-16 school and college, and to liberate their talent.

“This, along with so many other investments in special-needs schooling, in hospital provision, and in his work in climate change through tree-planting programmes in South America, is a lasting legacy to a quiet man who never paraded his charitable works, but will probably be remembered most for his love of horse-racing and his wise decision never to bet on a horse.”

He left school at 15 and did two years’ national service in the Army.

He and his brothers built up the Ogden group of companies, running a demolition and site-clearance business, later becoming involved in horse racing.