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Brian Roper dies aged 75

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 07, 2014

brianroper

Brian Roper with his wife Margaret

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Family and friends have paid tribute to businessman and benefactor Brian Roper after his death at the age of 75.

He died just over a week after being made a freeman of the city for which he had done so much.

Mr Roper and his wife Margaret were given the freedom of Bath last week, in a ceremony brought forward because of the advanced stage of the incurable cancer with which he was diagnosed last year.

The couple have donated more than £6 million to charity in the city, with the bathroom firm he founded 30 years ago channeling three per cent of its profits into the family charitable trust.

Brassmill Lane-based Roper Rhodes is now run by his sons Mark and Paul.

Mr Roper, who was also given a lifetime achievement award at last year's Bath Chronicle Business Awards, had always argued that companies should make a financial contribution to the communities in which they operated, over and above the taxes and rates they paid.

He was married to Margaret for more than 50 years, after meeting her at the London School of Economics.

The Roper Family Charitable Trust has been a lifeline for dozens of arts and health charities in Bath, and donated £228,000 in 2012.

The Ropers have also been keen supporters of the City of Bath College - which named a building after them, and of the University of Bath.

Among the charities and organisations they have helped have been the Forever Friends Appeal at the RUH, the Golden-Oldies, Zenith Theatre Company, the Mozartfest, Bath Festivals, the Holburne Museum, the Theatre Royal, Dorothy House - where Mr Roper died this morning - and Julian House.

All those organisations were reflected in the tributes being paid to Mr Roper.

City MP Don Foster said: "Bath will miss Brian Roper. He's been a true servant of Bathonians for longer than many of us can remember; as a highly successful local businessman, a Bath City councillor and an extremely generous philanthropist.

"Many individuals and charities have benefited from his wisdom, advice and financial contributions. His recent award of the freedom of the city - along with his wife Margaret - was richly deserved. We have lost one of the best in Bath."

Bath public relations company owner Julie Peacock, who is helping to organise Mr Roper's funeral, and who has seen at first hand the trust's support for local arts festivals, said: "Brian and Margaret were a team in all they did, from their family activities to creating Roper Rhodes, to their love of and support for the arts, and their political commitment to the Liberal Democrats."

Mr Roper also leaves three grandchildren.

When he was given his lifetime achievement award last September, he said: “We do what we do because I believe that businesses should contribute to their communities. It’s not enough for them just to pay their taxes. Businesses are individual wealth centres and they should take some of the load off the state and local authorities.”

He had also been a Bath City councillor, a member of the University of Bath Council, chair of the trustees of the St Stephen’s Millennium Green Committee and president of Bath Liberal Democrats.

In 2009, he was given an honorary degree by the university. At the time Professor Chris Riddoch from the university’s School for Health said in his oration: “Brian Roper is a very different type of businessman to the ‘profit at all costs’ stereotype. While of course any businessman must seek profit, Brian is possibly unique in the way in which he uses his business success to bring business and society closer together. In other words he ensures that his business re-invests in the community which feeds it. He is a truly principled business operation.”

He was given the MBE in 2008.

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  • StanStill  |  May 07 2014, 7:29PM

    R.I.P Brian, a good man who did a tremendous amount for Bath. The most unselfish man I ever knew.

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