Mark Wolfson MP OBE, former Chair of Brathay Trust - an obituary

Our tribute to Mark Wolfson OBE, Principal of Brathay from 1962 - 1965, who went on to become a valued Trustee and long-serving Chair of Trustees.

Mark Wolfson was educated at Eton College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, before serving in the Royal Navy from 1952 to 1954.

He joined Brathay Hall Trust as Warden (Principal) in 1962, remaining at the helm of the organisation until 1965.

In those days, Brathay’s core work was running four-week residential courses for (mainly) industrial apprentices. An invitation to join the Governing Body saw him return in 1969, and his continuing devotion led him to become a Trustee in 1973, and Chair of Trustees from 1983 until his retirement in 2003.

His diligent support was invaluable in assisting Brathay’s archivist, Maurice Dybeck, to write Broad River, the official History of Brathay. Maurice remembers that "His succinct writing skills were a great help to me and the Brathay staff. Clearly written Annual Reports owe much to him.”

Mark always spoke his mind but only after weighing his words. He could always be relied on to come up with a careful assessment of any situation, giving credit where due, but never afraid point out errors. Behind his charm there was a firm will to promote any rightful cause.

As chairman – a role in which he excelled – he was always polite and fair. Maurice remembers him as “Not a man to put up with humbug or woolly thinking. Few people would want to cross him if they were not certain of their facts!” His work as chairman meant not only reining in a wide diversity of business professionals; he also had to deal diplomatically with the charitable donors on whom Brathay’s survival depended. His devotion to Brathay was total and he saw it through some difficult times.

Away from Brathay, he became Head of Youth Services at The Industrial Society from 1966 to 1969, leading the I'm Backing Britain campaign, and was appointed as a director of Hambros Bank in 1973.

He was elected for the Conservative seat of Sevenoaks in 1979, which he held until he stood down at the 1997 general election.

But it was largely in recognition of his services to young people, through Brathay, that in 2002 he was awarded the OBE.

Current Chief Executive, Godfrey Owen, said of his predecessor “Behind the establishment man, the old Etonian - there was a very, very kind and thoughtful person - committed to the development of young people”.

Brathay, as it is today, owes much to Mark Wolfson.

You can help us continue to support young people by donating to our Young Minds Matter appeal here.