The Public Orator Professor Leonard Kenneth Young, B.A., D.PHIL., wrote and delivered the following citation:
It is somewhat reassuring in this age of precarious paper money to find that our most prominent banker is descended from a family of Midland ironmasters. Not that I would call into question the mettle of John Saunders, of whose fineness there can be no doubt.
In 1939 when the war broke out he went to the wartime Sandhurst where he was awarded the Belt of Honour as the best cadet of his entry. He served in the infantry throughout the war, rising to command the 2nd Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers in the closing battle in Italy at the crossing of the River Po. He served in Africa and Sicily as well as Italy, was wounded and mentioned in Despatches, awarded the Military Cross and then the Distinguished Service Order in 1945.
This was clearly the right sort of training for a modern industrial banker, for his advancement in his profession has outpaced his brilliant military career. After the war he rejoined the Bank, which he had first joined as a trainee in 1937. He was posted to Singapore and subsequently to Hong Kong in 1950; becoming Chief Manager twelve short years later and Chairman in 1964. His performance in the Colony has endowed the public with confidence and he has transmuted our dearest pledges into those towering blocks of concrete which are rapidly becoming the eighth wonder of the world.
His success has driven him to extend his activities to keep pace with what he has encouraged, and to compound Hong Kong’s expanding international position he has stretched his interests abroad. He is at present Chairman of the Mercantile Bank of London and of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation of California and San Francisco. His Directorship of the Malaysian Government Development Bank in Kuala Lumpur also forces him regularly into tropical climes. These, and his other far-flung commitments, instill in him a feeling of perpetual motion and in us a justifiable sense of pride. In 1966, these wanderings were recognized by the Government of Portugal and he was created a Commander of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator.
Despite these perennial peregrinations, all made in our interest, he has found the time and the stamina to take a full and active part in our communities affairs. He has served as a Justice of the Peace since 1955 and on the Executive Council since 1966. A member of the Court and Council of this University, he is also our respected Treasurer and a member of the Press Committee; and it should be put on record that the complexities of the University budget and the desperate hopes of struggling authors equally receive his careful and sagacious advice.
Mr. Chancellor, in requesting you to confer on John Anthony Holt Saunders the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences we honour a man to whom we would readily admit our material debt.