Norman Somerville Macfarlane

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Lord Macfarlane

Background and Family Ties

Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden (Norman Somerville Macfarlane), was born in Glasgow on 5 March 1926. Educated at the High School of Glasgow, he undertook active duty in Palestine as a Commander in the Royal Artillery (1945-47).[1]

Married to Greta, the couple have a son and four daughters. In 2001, son Hamish launched a PC repair service, PC Homefix, and two years later joined forces with a Boston company to expand into Ireland and Australia.[2]


A Conservative, he was knighted in 1983, made a Knight of the Order of the Thistle in 1996 ,[3] and raised to the peerage as Baron Macfarlane of Bearsden, in the District of Bearsden and Milngavie in 1991. [4]

In 2004, Lord Macfarlane won the St Mungo's Prize for services to business and the arts.

In 2006, he won the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce achivement award for a 'significant contribution to the business community of the city and to the refurbishment of Kelvingrove Art Galleries.'[5]

On 23 February 2007, Bailie Liz Cameron, who is on the board of Culture and Sport Glasgow together with Lord Macfarlane, conferred on him the Freedom of the City of Glasgow.[6] This confers on him the right to an graze his cows on Glasgow Green, go fishing on the Clyde, attend all court hearings and defend the city by arms.[7]

In recognition of the synergy he brings to business and the arts, Lord Macfarlane was honoured with a Goodman Award (after Lord Goodman) on 28 March 2008, by Arts and Business, the organisation set up during the Thatcher era to promote partnerships between the arts and business.[8]

Business Links

A prominent Scottish industrialist, his Lordship established N.S. Macfarlane & Co., a packaging company, in 1949, in which he was Managing Director (1973-90) and Chairman (1973-98) and now holds the role of Honorary Life President. Floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1973, Macfarlane Group has grown to become an international organisation with businesses in the UK and Europe. On its website, the Group declares 'a turnover of £130 million in 2006 and 23 locations: 19 in the UK and 4 in Europe.' [9] In 2007, Macfarlane Group plc sold its US/Mexican operations.[10]

As of March 2006, the major shareholder in Macfarlane Group plc was Credit Suisse Asset Management with 9,70%. Other investors were Britel Fund Nominees (5.78%), Possfund Nominees Ltd (3.92%), Deutsche Bank AG (6.29%) and its subsidiary companies M & G Group Limited (5.00%) (part of Prudential plc), with Lord and Lady Macfarlane holding 3.51%.[11]

In 1987, Macfarlane became Chairman of the drinks companies United Distillers,[12](a member of the Global Business Network) a post he held until 1996. He is also honorary life president of drinks giant Diageo. Among the many other Directorships he has held are Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (1976-79), Clydesdale Bank plc (1980-96) and the Fine Art Society plc (1976-98).

Cultural Interests

One of four Independent Directors of Culture and Sport Glasgow, Lord Macfarlane's cultural interests extend to Directorships of Scottish Ballet (1975-87), the Scottish National Orchestra (1977-82) and Third Eye Centre (1978-81; now the Centre for Contemporary Art), Patronage of the National Art Collection Fund (1978-) and Trusteeship of the National Galleries of Scotland (1986-97).[13] He is also president of the Glasgow School of Art and his former school, the High School of Glasgow, trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund (with Bridget McConnell), and president of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. Sporting interests include being patron of Queen's Park FC and vice-president of the Professional Golfers' Association.

Significantly in relation to his work for Culture and Sport Glasgow, Macfarlane was chair of the trustees of the Kelvingrove Refurbishment Appeal, describing Kelvingrove as 'without doubt, Scotland's greatest cultural asset'.[14]

While Macfarlane is publicly credited with raising the money, fundraiser Alan Horn was given the full-time job of raising £5m from companies, trusts and the public, announcing an eventual total of £12.75m. It has been reported that 'One of the biggest donations was £5m from Glasgow businessman Tom Hunter [founder of the Sports Division retail chain] for an education wing named after his father Campbell. The Scottish Executive provided £1m to allow the gallery's soot-blackened stonework to be restored to its original blonde. And the London-based Wolfson Foundation, provided money to create a 150-seat lecture theatre. Other major donors include the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Hugh Fraser Foundation, the Weir Group, Glasgow Airport owners BAA and overseas trusts the International Music and Art Foundation and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.'[15] Glasgow City Council provided £6m towards the refit; £13m was received from the Heritage Lottery Fund (with which both Macfarlane and Bridget McConnell are involved). Glasgow's citizens also gave £800,000 to the project.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag The involvement of Board members in programming is a new departure under Culture and Sport Glasgow while the use of public galleries and museums to boost the provenance (and hence value) of a private collection is an established strategy.

Cash for Elections

In May 2006, questions were raised about Lord Macfarlane's £1,000 election donation to beleaguered House of Commons Speaker, Michael Martin. Considered to be above party politics, the MP accepted the money from Conservative peer, Macfarlane in order to secure his second term in office.[16] Lord Macfarlane has also donated more than £5,000 to the Conservative Party election campaign.



  1. Who's Who 2008. A&C Black, London, p.1467
  2. 'US firm to make Macfarlane's overseas expansion easy PC', The Sunday Herald, 13 April 2003, p.2.
  3. Who's Who 2008. A&C Black, London, p. 1467
  4. Lord Macfarlane House of Lords website (accessed 2 March 2008)
  5. Jonathan Rennie, 'Firms show Glasgow means business; WINNERS TAKE ALL Top companies reap rewards of their success at a glittering city 'Business Oscars' ceremony', Evening Times, 21 April 2006, p.14.
  6. [ Glasgow City Council website(accessed 3 March 2008)
  7. Vivienne Nicoll, 'FREEDOM! Wins you the right to graze your cows, fish on the Clyde, defend the city and get your own jail cell', Evening Times, 24 February 2007.
  8. Lord Macfarlane and Freize founders honoured with top A&B Awards Arts and Business website (accessed 3 March 2008)
  9. Macfarlane Group website: About Us (accessed 3 March 2008).
  10. Macfarlane Group PLC gives a trading update for 2007 and disposes of surplus property 20 December 2007 (accessed 16 April 2008).
  11. Company News Feed, 'Macfarlane Group PLC - Holding(s) in Company' 30 March 2006.
  12. Lord Macfarlane Scots Connections website (accessed 3 March 2008).
  13. Who's Who 2008. A&C Black, London, p.1467
  14. Phil Miller ‘Kelvingrove is in top 15 most visited museums in world’ The Herald 29 February, 2008 (accessed 9 April 2008).
  15. Vivienne Nicoll, 'We're Laughing Now: £12.75m Windfall for Kelvingrove thanks to the people of Glasgow', Evening Times, May 31 2006, p.7.
  16. Paul Hutcheon, 'Speaker accepted donation from Tory peer: Revelation leads to call for changes to rules', The Sunday Herald, 14 May 2006, p.6.