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Richard Baskcomb Haryott

West, 1954-59

Dad was born in Bombay on 28th March 1941, the second of three children. At the age of eight he came to England to be educated and joined his brother John at St Faith’s, before moving on to The Leys in 1954. So began an association with the School that continued for the rest of his life.

He went on to study Civil Engineering at Leeds, and after graduating in 1962 with first class honours, began a long and distinguished career with the civil engineering firm Arup.

In 1969, he helped found Arup’s multi-disciplinary Building Engineer practice. He became a director in 1979, then joined the group’s main board in 1984 before ending up as Chairman of the Ove Arup Foundation, a position he held until 2013. During this time the firm grew from about 250 to over 10,000 people.

In between being a project director on 55 jobs – among them the award-winning Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery and the NEC in Birmingham – he also worked on numerous other notable projects such as the Royal Opera House and the British Pavilion at Expo ‘92 in Seville. In 1976, together with the family, he moved to Iran as Managing Director of Arup Tehran, leaving just before the revolution of 1979.

Outside of Arup, he chaired the Steel Construction Institute and became more and more interested in education and training. As Chairman of the Joint Board of Moderators, he was part of a team that accredited universities in the degree courses in engineering. As part of this, he helped ensure engineers became more rounded by focusing on the art of engineering, not just the science that underpins it. He was also a trustee of the Construction Youth Trust, which was set up to help disadvantaged young people find careers in the industry.

He married Virginia in 1966, and together they built their life and family in Hertford. Fast forward to 1984, and the links to The Leys continued when their three children –  first me, then my sister Jo and brother Charlie – all followed in his footsteps by attending the School. Jo in turn then sent her children to The Leys too.

But that wasn’t where the Leysian connections ended. Dad became a governor in 1985, only standing down in 2017 – placing him among the longest-standing governors ever – and then President of the Old Leysian Society. He never really did hang up his Leysian boots, as he was on the Benevolent Fund and Old Leysian committees until the day he died.

Dad loved skiing, golf and anything with Peter Sellers in it, but was happiest when surrounded by his family, and he took great pleasure in recent years seeing his eight grandchildren grow up. He died very suddenly on 24 May, and we miss his love, laughter, generosity, energy … and his ability to fix things.

There will be a memorial service for Dad at The Leys School Chapel on 21 October at 2 pm. All are welcome.

Words by Jim Haryott, East 1984-89