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East of England

David Brown celebrates 50 years as a member of the IoD

07 Jun 2020

A Cambridgeshire businessman is marking 50 years as a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD).

iod certificate

Chartered accountant David Brown started his career as an articled clerk earning £2 10 Shillings a week before joining the family civil engineering firm, East Anglian-based Biggs Wall and Co Ltd. David started his career with the family business from his grandfather’s home in Muswell Hill, North London, working with his father in a shared office before the business expanded into one of the largest private pipelaying companies in the country and moved its headquarters from London to the region where its contracts were carried out.  

He joined the IoD in 1970 as a young financial director of Biggs Wall, the year the UK went decimal, when you could buy the average house for £4975 and the average weekly wage was £32.

In his 56-year career as a chartered accountant, David, who still practices from his St Neots based firm has seen significant events, from the eve of technology to IRA bombings at his London offices.

David's IoD certificate dated 29 May 1970

Since joining the IoD 50 years ago, David has been a core member of the organisation and its business community across the East of England, with some highlights, as he explains.

david brown with famil and lord archer“I always enjoy visiting the IoD headquarters in Pall Mall and meeting other members in London and Cambridgeshire. It has been wonderful to connect with generations of business leaders, from student IoD members and young directors to old hands like myself and we can always learn from each other.

“I also particularly look forward to the annual IoD dinners, where I was recently delighted to be able to meet Lord Archer and discuss his books with him.’

With no signs of slowing down, David is a keen clarinet player and singer, who has performed as part of a choir at the Albert Hall in 2019 and chairs a number of charities.

At 78, David continues to run his business and look after his clients, and his inimitable work ethos seems to have passed down through generations; his son and grandson are both doctors, and his daughter is a nurse, all working on the front line for the NHS.

David Brown (left) with his daughter Marina at the IoD Cambridgeshire Annual Dinner 2019 meeting Lord and Lady Archer 

David’s advice for businesses in the current climate? There is always light at the end of a tunnel, this pandemic will sort the good directors and organisations from the others, and they will emerge stronger, with new opportunities to grab.”

David Sales, Chair of the IoD in the East of England said, “David is an incredible character and an inspiration to our members. The fact that he is still running a successful business, and enjoying it, while continuing to fulfil his personal ambitions is wonderful. We are proud and honoured that fifty years on, David still enjoys and values his membership of the IoD.”

More about the life and work of David Brown:   

The Wall family became famous when David took some old 1902 recordings of his great-grandfather’s family at Christmas singing, which he had in his loft, to the Museum of London, where it was discovered that they were the oldest recordings in the world of a family at Christmas. 

Pallab Ghosh, the well-known science BBC correspondent came with a BBC cameraman and after interviewing the family, asked them to perform the same piece their uncle had sung at the age of seven on the 1902 recording, with David’s eight-year-old grandson singing the same piece some 110 years later accompanied by the family. The story received national coverage on television, radio, and print.

The Wall family in one of the first ever recordings of a family Christmas.

david brown and joyce on wedding daySadly, David’s wife of 53 years, Joyce, who was a talented musician, died in 2019. Both were active Christian Workers in the Church and community. Joyce was a warrant officer in the Boys Brigade and a lieutenant in the Girls Brigade and David was a lieutenant  in the Boys Brigade and chaplain of the Cambridge District.

When the couple moved from North London to Letchworth, they were appointed the youth leaders there before moving to St Neots in 1972, where they joined the Evangelical Church. David served as an elder there for ten years and seeing the Church grow to its present size of over 200 in the morning service planted two further churches in Camborne and Little Paxton.

David started teaching Sunday School in 1958 and still teaches a lively group of  around 15 eight to eleven-year-old pupils in his church today as well as being the leader of the prison ministry team for more than 20 years. He is the founder, trustee, and chair of a charity for  homeless men in Lowestoft and serves as a trustee for a number of other charities.

David and Joyce on their wedding day. The couple were married for 53 years.

For the last 30 years, David has sung in the Albert Hall for the Prom Praise Choir and has sung with Joyce in choirs at the Barbican, Central Hall Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral, Lambeth Palace, and Fairfield Hall Croydon. 

To celebrate the coming in of the new millennium, David cycled from the North of Jordan to the South of the country to raise money for deaf children with a party of cyclists including Jim Carter the well-known Downton Abbey actor, raising more than £100,000.

David Brown 50 Years 

IoD June 2020
Kate Everett 
01473 326907

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