Grigor and Diana McClelland

Grigor and Diana’s 40th anniversary.

Grigor McClelland (1922 – 2013) and Diana McClelland (1916 - 2000) founded Millfield House Foundation in 1976 with shares in the family business, Laws Stores. The Foundation received significant income following the sale of Laws Stores in 1985. Grigor served as Chair and Diana as Secretary of the Foundation for many years and together shaped the distinctive ethos of MHF. Other family members served as Trustees until 2018 and continue to take an interest in the work of the Foundation.

From its very beginnings, MHF focused on the North East region. The founding trustees felt this to be important, despite their interest and engagement in worldwide social deprivation and injustices, because its endowment (Laws Stores shares) came from the region.

During the Second World War, Grigor was a driver and stretcher bearer with the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU). His experiences in Germany started his lifetime’s work on conflict resolution and reconciliation and led him to become a founding trustee of the Anglo-German Foundation.

Diana also did post-war work in Germany for the FAU where they met and held similar Quaker beliefs. Diana had particular views on the meaning of social deprivation and its impact on people and communities, arising from her own Quaker education, philanthropic work and long association with the Marriage Guidance Council and other organisations.

Grigor and Diana were active Quakers and were involved in the Society of Friends through Newcastle Meeting. The family settled at Millfield House in Whickham, Gateshead which later gave its name to the family trust.

Millfield House, Whickham and the McClelland family circa 1964.

Grigor chaired many organisations during his lifetime. He was usually the strategic thinker and those he worked with say that he could be a tough task-master, but he was also a highly respected mentor.

In 1956 Grigor became a Trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a post he held until 1993. He chaired the Trust for 13 years from 1965 to 1978 and was proud of its work at the cutting edge of issues such as peace and reconciliation, racial justice, corporate liability and democratic change. It was the first of many involvements in achieving social change through philanthropy and charitable grant-giving.

Grigor often quoted Joseph Rowntree’s founding memorandum for the Trust, established in 1904.

“..It is to be remembered that there may be no better way of advancing the objects one has at heart than to strengthen the hands of those who are effectively doing the work that needs to be done.” - Joseph Rowntree, 1904

He admired Rowntree’s vision of successful business activities creating jobs and prosperity and supporting philanthropic activity which would not only relieve poverty but address its root causes. This was the touchstone for his later work with many charitable foundations.

In 1988 Grigor co-founded and chaired the Tyne & Wear Foundation, securing many tens of millions of funding for north east charities and creating, with founding Chief Executive George Hepburn, the most successful community foundation in the UK.

Grigor, George Hepburn and Carole Howells at the Tyne & Wear Foundation 20th anniversary celebration in 2008. 

Grigor also chaired the Tyne Tees ITV Telethon Trust and the National Lottery Charities Board north east regional grant committee. He was a champion of the North East within NLCB, consistently arguing for more funding and independence for the region.

Grigor and Diana were both active personal donors to many charitable and campaigning organisations through the Charities Aid Foundation and the Network for Social Change.

Under Grigor and Diana McClelland’s stewardship, and with the support of their four children (also Trustees), Millfield House Foundation became a vital and innovative funder of the region’s voluntary sector, with a strong emphasis on supporting organisations that influence public policy to achieve beneficial social change.