March 16, 2015

16/03/2015: UK industry stalwart Pat Donovan passes away

First published in Milling and Grain, February 2015

Patrick Donovan CBE passed away peacefully on Monday 2 February, aged 90

Pat was born in the Liverpool area but spent his first few years in Dublin. He came to England in the 1930’s after his father left the family flour milling business (John Donovan & Sons) in Tralee, County Kerry and set up Kings Mills at Knottingley, Yorkshire. 

He was later educated at Belmont Abbey School, Hereford. He was always keen on sport and became Captain of the school rugby team. In later years he returned to play in the Old Boys rugby matches. One year he captained the Old Boys team and the school captain was his eldest son David as his three sons went to the same school.

On leaving school he joined the family flour-milling firm, Kings Mills at Knottingley and served his apprentice there.

Having obtained his first class City and Guilds certificate he then went to do his National Service in the Army and got a commission. On leaving the army he re-joined the family business with his brother Denis as his father had had a stroke.
He and his brothers continued to expand the business. Then in 1962 the family sold out to Associated British Foods and became part of Allied Mills Ltd. 

Pat and Denis continued at Kings Mills until Pat was moved to some of the other mills within the group before becoming Managing Director of Allied Mills: later to become Chairman and Managing Director; then a Director of Associated British Foods Ltd under the Chairmanship of Garry Weston.

Pat then made sure Allied Mills kept up to date and in the fore front of the milling industry.
He started to expand the activities of the group into starch production, grain merchanting, rice milling, grain import and export and maize milling.

He was very much involved in the activities of the National Association of British and Irish Millers of which he was President on two occasions for his work for NABIM he was awarded the CBE.

On a few occasions he was invited to America to talk to the milling industry there about the improvements in the modern milling industry.

His widow, Margaret, survives him. Pat has three sons none of whom came into the milling industry but were successful in their careers.

He was always concerned about members of his staff and took an interest in them.

Rugby was his main sport playing as regular member of Headingley Rugby Club (Leeds) and for Yorkshire. The other sports he played were tennis and badminton. He liked walking and did so most days.

The funeral was held on Tuesday February 24 with a Requiem mass 11:30 at St Gregory’s Catholic Church, St James Square, Cheltenham GL50 8LE. 

Contributed by Noel Donovan, Pat’s brother.

Read the magazine HERE.

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