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The Lady KADOORIE

157th 

Congregation

 (1999)

The Lady KADOORIE

Doctor of Laws
honoris causa

The Public Orator, Professor M.M.M. Chan, MA, MPhil, wrote and delivered the following citation:

"Women hold up half the sky." This is a truth that cannot be denied, and it is always gratifying to see our University confer an Honorary Degree on a woman. Lady Kadoorie deserves this honour. Born Muriel Gubbay in Hong Kong, she married Lawrence Kadoorie in 1938 and they had two children, Rita and Michael. Lawrence Kadoorie was knighted in 1974 and became the first Hong Kong born person to be granted a peerage in 1981. Lord Kadoorie died in 1993 leaving Lady Kadoorie a widow. Today she has the loving support and companionship of her two children, their spouses and their families, five grandchildren and a grandson-in-law. The story seems simple and straightforward enough, and Lady Kadoorie in her self-deprecating way, insists she is no more than an ordinary housewife, who had a family to look after when the children were younger, who had to go through the privations and horrors of internment during the War and now is enjoying a quiet and contented life out of the glare of society. She claims that all the ambitions that she might have entertained when she was younger were wiped out by the sufferings brought by the War.

But there is more to the story. It is said that behind every successful man there is a woman. In the case of Lady Kadoorie we get the impression that she was less behind Lord Kadoorie than beside him as he undertook his many philanthropic ventures. In spite of her own disclaimers about her minimal contributions, it is clear that she has genuine compassion and sympathy for the less fortunate and fully supported her husband's altruism and worked together with him to bring to fruition his humane impulses. Today she is totally conversant with all her family many charities and lends her full support.

The Kadoorie name is well-known in Hong Kong: there is Kadoorie Avenue, where incidentally Lady Kadoorie lives, and the Kadoorie Farm and Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association, the University Kadoorie Agricultural Research Centre, the facilities of which were initially donated by the Kadoories. Lady Kadoorie takes a personal and genuine interest in the Farm and her enthusiasm for organic produce of the Farm is obvious. The Kadoories were initially motivated by a desire to help indigent farmers. The Farm worked towards raising the standards of the pigs bred locally, also chickens. Eventually it became more research-orientated, with research being done into growing organic crops; helping injured animals and birds, particularly endangered species. Lady Kadoorie's grandson, Andrew McAulay, manages the project. Lady Kadoorie is clearly an advocate of environmental reform and concerned about the increasing pollution of our city.

"Lack of money is the root of all evil", Mark Twain has put it wittily if not altogether truly. Lady Kadoorie is aware of those who suffer financial need. Lord Kadoorie was approached by the Dean of St John's Cathedral to donate funds for the establishment of the China Coast Community, which would provide a home for many who might otherwise be homeless. Lady Kadoorie takes a personal interest in the home and visits it regularly. She is also a dutiful and hardworking Trustee of the Kadoorie Charitable Foundations, which engages in multifarious works of relief and philanthropy, including 14 projects in Mainland China. The activities the Foundation sponsors are so diverse that they justify the use of a professional management team. Lady Kadoorie is also a supporter of the Jewish Community of Hong Kong. Lord Kadoorie was the acknowledged leader of the community for 50 years prior to his death. Lady Kadoorie has two areas which interest her particularly:they are music and children. An accomplished pianist when younger, she is a keen lover of music, and talks knowledgeably and with warmth about individual performances. She is a supporter of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. She is also fond of children and continues to be a supporter of the Society for the Protection of Children. She is also patron of the Hong Kong Soong Ching Ling Children Palace. She certainly does not trumpet forth her good works, far from it; indeed such is her modesty that she downplays all the good work she has done.

It is our University good fortune to have had among its staunch supporters Lord Kadoorie, who served on our Council for many years. Mindful of the affection in which her husband held our University, Lady Kadoorie wanted to make a donation to us in his memory. It was resolved that the family make a significant donation toward the construction of a Biological Sciences Building at the University of Hong Kong, a building in which the biological sciences would be drawn together. Due to be completed in mid 1999, this building will be named the Kadoorie Biological Sciences Building - yet another tribute to the generosity of the Kadoories.

Although Lady Kadoorie has travelled a great deal, she considers Hong Kong, her birthplace, her home, and has devoted time and energy to local causes. In her humility Lady Kadoorie insists she is just an "ordinary" person; in fact the scope of the family philanthropy has raised her out of the commonplace into the rare. She has lit up the lives of the less fortunate with her many acts of kindness and of love.

Mr Pro-Chancellor, for her generosity of spirit and her willingness to donate to so many worthy causes I call upon you to confer upon Lady Kadoorie the Degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.

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