Sir Michael “Roger” Gifford (E 68-72) 1955-2021

The OS Club is deeply saddened to share the news that Sir Roger Gifford, Sedbergh School Governor and Former Lord Mayor of London (2012-2013), passed away at home on 25 May 2021 from myeloma, aged 65. 

Whilst at Sedbergh, Sir Roger was actively involved in music and drama. He performed regularly in House and School events. In the 1970 House play, ‘The Crimson Cocoanut‘ by Ian Hay he was described as showing, ‘Great promise as an exuberant Russian anarchist’. The following year his performance as Hector in ‘Thieves Carnival‘ by Jean Anouilh was praised as ‘convincing’. In music events, he won the 1971 Junior Piano Solo Competition and took part in bell ringing, House chamber and singer quartet and played the piano at House prayers on a number of occasions.

A keen shooter, Sir Roger shot for the House team from his very first term at Sedbergh. He went on to compete at inter-school events across the country, achieving high individual scores at Bisley. His 1969 performance in the House Recruits Cup was described as ‘outstanding’. Although his most notable achievements at Sedbergh are arguably those involving music and shooting, he was also involved in numerous other competitions and societies. His sporting activities included competing in junior swimming, House running and water polo, House and School rugby and School athletics. He was made a House Prefect in his final year of 1972 and also Captain of the 1st VIII shooting team. Please see further below for a timeline of Sir Roger’s years at Sedbergh.

After leaving Sedbergh, Sir Roger read Chemistry at Trinity College, Oxford, and began his career in the financial sector at S.G. Warburg & Co in 1978, before joining Nordic Bank SEB in 1982. Prior to his appointment as UK Country Head in 2000, he led the bank’s operations in Japan for six years from 1994-2000. He worked in and around the primary debt and equity capital markets for most of his career as UK Country Head from 2000-2016.


In 2013, Sir Roger was appointed Lord Mayor of the City of London and was subsequently knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to international business, culture and the city.

As a banker by background, Sir Roger emphasised the City’s prodigious work in society as a force for good during his time in office as Lord Mayor, both in terms of wealth creation and in the creative arts which he promoted as a key part of the City’s philanthropic outreach initiatives. Also a musician and a big supporter of the arts, Sir Roger – with his wife Clare – formed the City Music Foundation, as part of his Mayoral Appeal, to bring the concept of apprenticeships and business training to aspiring professionals. Sir Roger was also a patron of the financial education charity MyBnk.

While Lord Mayor, he carried the Mourning Sword at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, leading the Queen and Prince Philip in and out of St Paul’s Cathedral for the ceremony. The last time it had been used was at the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

Sir Roger was also a leading figure in green finance, having chaired the UK Government’s Green Finance Taskforce in 2018. “Sir Roger was instrumental in establishing the Green Finance Institute and stewarding our success over the last two years. His contribution to the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, and advancing green finance in the UK was enormous,” said Lawson Muncaster, Managing Director of London Business Newspaper City A.M.


A tremendous supporter of Sedbergh School and the OS Club, during his years as Lord Mayor of London Sir Roger hosted many OS Club social events at Mansion House. He had requested that Sedbergh School be involved in his inaugural pageant and the CCF Band were delighted to be invited to perform on a float. In 2014 Sir Roger was unanimously appointed a Vice President of the Sedbergh School Foundation.

Sedbergh School Principal, Andrew Fleck, said: “Roger generated energy and emanated warmth wherever he went. He gave his time generously and hosted events for the School in Hong Kong and at the Mansion House.  As Governor, he was ambitious for the School and entirely focussed on what was best for pupils. He was a great friend and we will miss him dearly.”

Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell, said: “I know that many people across the City and beyond will be greatly saddened by the news of Sir Roger’s death. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. Sir Roger served the City faithfully for many years. This included showing leadership in ensuring the financial sector plays its part in the fight against climate change. The City of London Corporation joins together in sending our sincerest condolences and paying tribute to his life.”

Click here to read the notice posted on the City of London website.

The OS Club sends its deepest sympathies to Sir Roger’s family and friends at this difficult time. More information, including an obituary, will follow soon.

Please see below a message from OS Club Chairman, Jan van der Velde:

Sir Roger Gifford

Today Sedbergh mourns the loss of one of its finest sons. Sir Roger Gifford, a friend to so many at this School, former Lord Mayor of London, conscientious businessman, supporter of the arts, and Governor of Sedbergh for many years, has passed away at the all too young age of 65.

While his obituary will tell of his many accomplishments, in business and in life, I write on a personal note to acknowledge his humility, candour, sense of fun, and friendship, that he shared in abundance with those around him. Despite his tremendous intellect and success in life, he always showed great respect to others and never stood upon his station.

Many will remember with fondness when he climbed upon his chair at the Mansion House dinner to proudly exhibit his newly awarded Sedbergh School tweed jacket, to great applause and laughter from the three hundred guests. It was a break, I am sure, with centuries of tradition but it exemplified Roger’s sense of fun and zest for life.

I remember, also, visiting Roger at his bank. It was ‘after hours’ so everyone else had gone home. However, Roger had had the foresight and generosity of spirit to buy some bottled beers which he had hidden carefully in the cavernous fridge of the company’s kitchens with a suitable erudite note to deter even the pluckiest of would-be thieves. It was a hot summer’s day and the cold beers were most welcome. For someone who was so busy, his forethought showed great kindness; in fact it was more than that, it was manners, and I felt most honoured.

My thoughts, our thoughts, are with Roger’s family at this time. We offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences for a man who, in so many ways, personified the Spirit of Sedbergh and all that the School represents.

Jan van der Velde
Chairman, OS Club

Please see below a timeline of events of Sir Roger’s years at Sedbergh School between in 1968 and 1972:

1969 – ‘Trial by Jury’ played second bridesmaid
1969 – Gifford came third in junior singing competition
1969 – Awarded exhibition
1969 – Awarded bronze medallion in swimming, played on colts B
1969 – Recruits cup ‘Despite very few full practice shoots on the day the team excelled themselves, with Gifford, Hoods and Sprigings outstanding and they came first by five points’
1970 – Evans House play ‘The Crimson Coconut’ Sedberghian review states ‘Gifford showed great promise as an exuberant Russian anarchist’ playing Nitro Gliserinski
1970 – Awarded exhibition
1970 – Under 15 junior running team. Gifford came 17th out of all under 15’s at school.
1970 – Shot in Lord Roberts cup, second highest score within team. Gifford came 7th overall in the O.S. R. C cup (no details of what O. S. R. C stands for)
1970 – Swam on Evan House under 15 freestyle relay team which came first
1970 – House singing competition, sang in quartet, ‘Love is a sickness’ by Vaughan Williams
1971 – Evans House play ‘Thieves Carnival’. Sedberghian article states ‘M. R. Gifford was convincing as the likeable Hector’.
1971 – From the Sedberghian season review ‘Gifford produced some very good individual scores’
1971 – Science librarian
1971 – Performed in house chamber group concert of music by Purcell and Telemann
1971 – On team winning the school shooting cup. In the O. S. R. C cup Gifford came 6th
1971 – Represented Evans House in Middle School running comp
1971 – Made house prefect
1971 – Played on 4th XV
1971 – Poem ‘Paradise’ printed in the Wasp magazine’
1971 – Played on house rugby team
1971 – Won recitation prize
1972 – Member of shooting VIII
1972 – Made school prefect
1972 – Made captain on the bells
1972 – Science librarian
1972 – Captain of shooting
1972 – Rang bells for family communion at Sedbergh Parish Church 1972 – Played on 3rd XV