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Edinburgh Award for Sir Tom Farmer

Catholic entrepreneur and philanthropist says key to his success is that he ‘ married the girl next door’

Catholic entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Farmer paid tribute to his Leith upbringing when he accepted the Edinburgh Award.

At a ceremony in Edinburgh City Chambers on Friday, Sir Tom (above) received the Loving Cup from Lord Provost Donald Wilson and had his handprints set outside the Chambers along with those of the eight previous award winners.

During the ceremony, Sir Tom described the honour as ‘something very special’ and praised the support of people around him in his family and community.

“They have cheered me when I’ve been successful, but more important, when things have been tough they have encouraged and helped me to get up and carry on,” he said.

“The strongest and most important support of all has been from my wife of nearly 50 years,” he added, referring to his wife Lady Anne Farmer.

“People sometimes ask what is the key to success—my key is I married the girl next door.”

When praising Leith’s role in his success, he also called for further rekindling of community spirit in light of modern pressures such as the refugee crisis.

“I was very fortunate to be born into a great family and a great community in Leith,” Sir Tom said.

“[Leith] welcomed people in, whether they came from another part of the city, another part of the country or from abroad as immigrants or refugees – which is important in the current environment.”

“The greatest influence has been meeting unsung heroes we never hear about who devote their lives to helping their neighbours and the people around them.”

Sir Tom grew up in a Catholic family of seven children and began his career aged 15 at a tyre firm in the community before setting up his own business in 1964 that he sold five years later for £450,000.

He moved to the US but returned to Edinburgh in 1971 to set up the Kwik-Fit, which he eventually sold to Ford in 1999 for more than £1 billion.

His latest company Farmer Autocare was set up in 2003, and he has become well-known for his charitable work that has seen In 2003, he launched yet another company, Farmer Autocare, which has also notched up impressive successes.

He is also well known for his charitable work for which he has received knighthoods from both the Queen and the Vatican, and became the first Scot to win the Andrew Carnegie medal for philanthropy.



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