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Johnian magazine issue 52, spring 2024

From the Development Director

1 min read

Stephen Teal, Director of Development at St John’s, reflects on his early years at the College, an old friend and the importance of the Johnian Development Board.

The terribly sad news of the death of Jeremy Marshall (1981) in 2023 took me back to my early days as
Development Director at St John’s, some 18 years ago. The Fellows were still somewhat wary of any external involvement in the affairs of the College, and I was viewed with (on a good day) an icily polite suspicion. On the other hand some supremely ambitious fundraising targets had been agreed (proving the axiom that highly intelligent people can hold two directly opposing views).

Jeremy Marshall (1981)

One of my key first tasks was going to be the appointment of a Chair of our newly constituted
Campaign Board. We needed somebody who would have credibility with their peers around the globe, but on the other hand somebody with a personality to assuage the dons’ worst fears about having a red-braces-wearing ‘big beast’ from the business community rampaging through the Senior Combination Room.

Within minutes of meeting Jeremy I knew he was just perfect. At the time he headed up Credit Suisse’s private banking arm but was far removed from the City-stereotypes, being a quietly spoken, unassuming person. From the outset he chaired the Development Board meetings with polite good humour, gently chivvied people along and won over the Fellowship with ease. He was absolutely central to our hitting our £50 million fundraising target, which was at the time the most successful of any Oxbridge college.

He was diagnosed with cancer not long after his appointment as CEO of Hoare’s Bank. He underwent countless courses of chemotherapy over a decade or so, and did so without one iota of self-pity. His deeply held Christian faith seemed, if anything, to be strengthened by what he went through.

The last time I saw him was at the FA Cup Final in 2019, where he and his family were gathered to cheer on his beloved Watford FC. He looked unnervingly frail and yet he seemed his usual cheerful, optimistic self. I almost felt guilty as Man City’s fourth, fifth and sixth goals went in. True to form he sent me a text after the game: ‘Congratulations on a wonderful win! Next time, Stephen, next time.’

Jeremy was succeeded as Chair by Heather Hancock (1984) in 2012, and then in 2017 by Richard Trubshaw (1984). The Development Board continues to be crucial to so many of the College’s aspirations, and I’d like to think it is now an accepted and respected part of the Johnian firmament. And it all started with the great Mr Marshall.