Ex-pupil who left £13.5m to Methody had no money in younger days

The godson of the benefactor who left a legacy of £13.5m in his will to his former school, Methodist College Belfast, has described him as “a confident man”, who was “passionate about education and nutrition.”

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 5:17 pm
Methodist College, Belfast

Malcolm Steven, 58, who lives in Dover, Kent, said in his younger days, his godfather, Richard Henry (Prescott) Kerr, had “no money whatsoever.”

“I think the reason he has given this money to the school is because he has always been grateful for his education and how it got him to where he was and the life he was able to lead. He always said to me ‘Malcolm your education is your foundation to life’.”

Mr Steven explained that the self-made multi-millionaire wasn’t a blood relation, but that his mother and Mr Kerr’s wife, Beatrice (Bea), also from Northern Ireland, were best friends.

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Richard Henry (Prescott) Kerr

“He was quite proud of the fact that he didn’t have much when he was (studying) in America.

“He recited a story of how he bought a car for next to no money and him and Bea would go on tour around America in this old jalopy.”

Prescott, as he was known to his friends and family, was the youngest of a farming family of five. He boarded at Methody in the 1940s and excelled academically as well as enjoying rowing in the College 8 and playing rugby.

After gaining a BSc in Agriculture from Queen’s University he went on to study at Cornell University in America. On his return to Northern Ireland he joined Coburns of Banbridge, producing vitamin feeds for agricultural foods.

Mr Kerr's godson Malcolm Steven

His subsequent work in nutrition research with Viasfeeds of Canterbury, eventually led to him setting up his own business, Newtech, in 1985.

He retired shortly afterwards to look after his beloved wife.

Principal Scott Naismith said it is the largest donation in Methody’s 150-year history and will be used to “support the life and work of the College”.

“This transformational gift will have a significant impact on the College community, allowing us to embark on development work the realisation of which would otherwise have been inconceivable.

Current and future generations of pupils at Methodist College will benefit from this extraordinarily generous donation.”

Mr Steven added his godfather was a “very caring” man, who was also very passionate about rugby and became president of Ashford Rugby Club in Kent.

“He enjoyed skiing in his younger days. We as a family used to go skiing with him and Bea every year. I do miss him.”

Mr Kerr passed away peacefully on January 24, 2019, aged 88, at Hynetown House, Dartmouth, England.