Sir Peter Moores is a philanthropist, some-times reluctant business leader, music and art lover who has developed a multitude of initiatives through the Peter Moores Foundation which have quite literally changed the lives of many people across the world.
Peter Moores was born in Lancashire and educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied Italian and German. He developed an early love of opera and left Oxford to study at the Vienna Academy for Music and the Dramatic Arts, simultaneously working as a production assistant with the Vienna State Opera. During this time he produced the Austrian premiere of Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia but eventually was persuaded to join his father's business, Littlewoods, in 1957, where he recognised he would be in a position to give more useful support to emerging artists than would ever have been possible had he remained, as it were, ‘at the stage door’. He started on the shop floor of Littlewoods, rising to become Chairman for three years between 1977 and 1980 and remaining a Director until 1993.
Sir Peter’s keen interest in the arts remained and it was through his passion for opera that his philanthropic work began. In his twenties Sir Peter identified and helped a number of young artists in the crucial, early stages of their careers, including Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Colin Davis and Sir Geraint Evans.
He went on to set up the Peter Moores Foundation in 1964 when he was 32, in order to develop his charitable aims, not only in music and the visual arts, but also in education, health, youth, social and environmental projects. The Foundation’s guiding principle has always been to ‘get things done and to open doors for people.’
The Foundation has encouraged the introduction of new initiatives with ChildLine for the prevention of child abuse and has enabled HIV and AIDS projects throughout the UK. It has funded a bursary in fine art at the University of Ulster in Belfast and supported the Royal Yachting Association to build teams of young windsurfers. Substantial help has been given to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Development Trust, while through annual PMF Scholarships established in 1971, well over two hundred young singers have received practical support at the outset of their careers, enabling a significant number to become international opera stars. In 1994 a permanent Transatlantic Slave Trade Gallery, initiated by Sir Peter, opened at Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum with the aim of fostering discussion about the heritage and the true history of the Transatlantic slave trade. The success of the gallery led to the development of an International Slavery Museum which opened in 2007.
At Oxford, 20 years ago, Sir Peter led the way to establishing the first courses in business studies for undergraduates. More recently, he has endowed, through his Foundation, a lecturership in Chinese Business Studies at Oxford - so that young people are familiar with, and prepared to work positively with China’s developing role in world economics.
The Peter Moores Barbados Trust continues the work of the Foundation in the Eastern Caribbean. In 1995 a Chair of Tropical Horticulture at the University of the West Indies in Barbados was established, a position which is combined with that of Director of the Andromeda Gardens, one of the most important botanical gardens in the world.
Since Sir Peter banged on the doors of EMI in order to capture 'live' Wagner’s Ring Cycle, sung in English and conducted by the legendary Reginald Goodall at the London Coliseum, the Foundation has enabled well over 100 opera recordings to be produced: Chandos Records' Opera in English series - 'Opera that speaks your language' is now the largest recorded collection of operas sung in English while Opera Rara's recordings of rare bel canto operas have opened up an immensely rich repertory previously only accessible to scholars. In live performance, the Foundation has encouraged the creation of new work and schemes to attract new audiences, financed the publication of scores, especially for world stage premieres of modern operas, and enabled rarely heard works to be staged by British opera companies and festivals.
In 1993 the Foundation acquired Compton Verney, a derelict 18th century mansion in Warwickshire. The Compton Verney House Trust, a charity funded by the Foundation, was established to develop Compton Verney House into an art gallery of international standing where visitors (especially first-timers) could discover art in an informal and welcoming environment. Compton Verney houses permanent collections and temporary exhibitions as well as providing a wide range of educational activities. The History of Art Department at Warwick enjoys a close relationship with Compton Verney. Members of staff at Compton Verney have contributed to research seminars here while members of Warwick staff regularly deliver lectures to the public at Compton Verney and are presently engaged in the development of exhibitions that will take place at Compton Verney next year. For their part, Compton Verney also offers Warwick staff and students privileged access to its collections for the purposes of research and teaching, in addition to making internships and placements available to Warwick students.
Sir Peter’s public appointments have included: Governor of the BBC; Trustee of the Tate Gallery and a Director of Scottish Opera. Sir Peter has been awarded the Gold Medal of the Italian Republic and a CBE in addition to receiving a Knighthood in the New Year's Honours List for 2003 in recognition of his charitable services to the arts. Sir Peter has said that his father instilled in him and his siblings “the notion that nothing of value is gained without hard work and there is nothing more valuable than sharing the fruits of your labours”. Through the Peter Moores Foundation, Sir Peter has created opportunities for people from many backgrounds and from across the globe to develop their potential, to engage in the world of arts for the first time, or to gain access to support that they might otherwise not have received. It is therefore with great pleasure that Warwick welcomes Sir Peter and recognises his significant achievements with an honorary degree.