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Wed 24 Jun 2020 18:06

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We are truly honoured to be joined by a very special guest tonight, a giant in the business world, but perhaps even more importantly, a true architect of the Jewish Community for over 50 years. Many young people may not know, or perhaps appreciate, all that he has done for the freedoms and security we have today. So I make no apologies for this extended introduction, as I hope by the end of this interview it will be clear that all of us are better, safer and stronger British Jews because of him.

 

Gerald Ronson, CBE is a British business tycoon and philanthropist, the CEO of Heron International and best known for founding and chairing the CST - which serves and protects the British Jewish community!

Growing up during the Second World War, Gerald was born in 1939 in Paddington and left school at the age of 15 to work in his father’s furniture business.

 

After a successful move into property, by 1967, the Heron company, named after his father, Henry Ronson, was active in seven European countries and fifty-two British municipalities, and by 1989, Gerald was listed by the Times Rich List as having a net worth of £500 million pounds.

 

But it hasn’t always been easy for Gerald, who in 1990 served six months in prison for alleged share-trading fraud as part of the Guinness Four scandal - something Gerald has said he is happy to talk about this evening - and then not long after had to overcome the commercial property crash of the nineteen-90s, which saw his family business personally lose over £1billion pounds.

 

In his autobiography ‘Leading from the Front’, which many of us having been reading in preparation for tonight’s interview, as always Gerald fought back and set about rebuilding both his business and reputation, where in the year 2000 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the trial in 1990 had been unfair.

Alongside many well-known historical names from both the JLGB (and our friends at AJEX), Gerald was part of the founding groups that fought fascism in the 1960s as the forerunners to what the Jewish community now knows as the Community Security Trust.

 

The CST, since founded by Gerald in 1994, has valiantly protected Jewish community events, clubs and buildings for over 25 years working alongside the police, the Home Office and the Prime Minister.

The Ronson Family Foundation is also one of the largest foundations in the Jewish community, giving over £10 million pounds each year in grants and donations.

 

In 2012, Gerald was rewarded with a CBE for his service to charities, a nice addition to his wife, Gail who was made a Dame, 8 years earlier.

 

This incredible family supports a range of causes including, Jewish Care, the RNIB, the Royal Ballet, the New Holocaust Memorial due to be built next to Parliament, and the creation of JCoSS school, for which Gerald is their Life President.

 

He doesn’t give many interviews, so we are especially grateful he has been able to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to chat with us this evening, as he has such an incredible story to tell us all!

Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome tonight’s honoured guest, Mr Gerald Ronson CBE!

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