Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial Lecture with Sir John Major KG CH

PAST EVENT – Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial Lecture with Sir John Major KG CH


November 14, 2017 - 7.00 pm


November 14, 2017 - 9.00 pm


Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre, Highgate Synagogue   View map

Highgate Synagogue was the venue for the first Sir Martin Gilbert Memorial Lecture. The venue was packed to capacity with Highgate members, students, school children, venerable donors and invited guests. Sir John spoke with humour and pathos.  He was able to be with his audience and to guide them along, whether he was speaking about Martin and his contributions, or whether he was talking about the state of the world.  After his powerhouse talk, Sir John took questions and showed a willingness to treat concerns seriously and intelligently, whether they came from someone younger or older.  His warmth and humanity made a deep impression on everyone present.

Sir Martin’s friendship with Sir John and Dame Norma dated from Sir John’s time as Prime Minister.  Having written the Churchill biography and having been friends with Harold Wilson when he was in office, Martin understood how Downing Street works and the challenges of many of those who work there, not least the Prime Minister.  Martin became an unofficial historian to Sir John, and was able to give background and context to many of the issues that arose.

When Martin became ill, Sir John was in constant touch with his wife, Lady Esther Gilbert. He came to visit Martin and sat for an hour talking to Martin about the political situations in much of the world, speaking as though the two were sharing a brandy in front of a roaring fire.  When Sir John’s schedule did not allow him to come to Martin’s memorial, he promised to give us an evening.

Sir John’s office has kindly allowed us to reprint his speech – a reminder for those who were there and a lesson in our present ‘interesting’ times.

Please read the full speech (PDF download)