Iain Tennant

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Biographical Information

Sir Iain Tennant (died in 2006)

"Sir Iain Tennant, KT, who has died aged 87, was chairman of Grampian Television for more than 20 years and combined a successful business career with a deep devotion to his native Scotland... He was educated at Eton, where he rowed for the school ("I took to the river not because I liked rowing, but because I didn't like cricket"). At Magdalene College, Cambridge, he started to read Agriculture, then switched to History; studying, however, took second place to his passion for the cinema and for playing bridge. His ambition was to go into the film business, and he left Cambridge at the end of his first year...

"After the Italian surrender Tennant was transferred to camps in Germany, remaining there until the end of the war. He left the Army in 1946, and in the same year married Lady Margaret Ogilvy, second daughter of the 12th Earl of Airlie.

"Tennant's family had a holding in Caledonian Associated Cinemas, and he went to work there, soon joining the board as a non-executive director. The company won the franchise for the new Independent Television area in the north-east and Highlands of Scotland, and Grampian Television began broadcasting on September 30 1961; in 1968 Tennant was appointed chairman. Board meetings under his aegis were notable for their brevity and location. He liked to visit the breadth of Grampian's transmission area, from Perthshire to Shetland, from Aberdeen to the Isles, and he held one meeting at his home in Moray. Grampian prospered under Tennant, and he remained as chairman until 1989. Meanwhile, his business expertise was in demand elsewhere: he served on the boards of Times Publishing (1962-66) and Clydesdale Bank (1968-89), and was chairman of Seagram Distillers (1979-84).

"He was also chairman of Glenlivet Distillers from 1964 to 1984 during a period of considerable expansion... Tennant was a governor of Gordonstoun from 1951, and had the difficult task of dealing with the school's sometimes parlous finances and with the eccentricities of its founder, Kurt Hahn. He was chairman of the governors from 1957 to 1970, which included the period during which Prince Charles was educated there. Sometimes the Prince would spend the weekend with Tennant and his wife at nearby Innes House.

"A trusted friend of the Royal Family, Tennant had been - as a member of the Royal Company of Archers- an usher at the Coronation. .. Perhaps the job that Tennant most enjoyed was his role (from 1970 to 1990) as Crown Estate Commissioner for Scotland. He travelled to every corner of the country he loved, and was determined that the Crown lands should be managed in the best possible way... in 1949, when he was 30, he founded Moray Sea School; he served his county as a councillor, and in 1963 he was appointed Lord Lieutenant for Moray, continuing in the role for 31 years." [1]

His daughter is Emma Cheape, who recently married Jocelyn Stevens.


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  1. telegraph.co.uk Sir Iain Tennant, organizational web page, accessed October 10, 2012.