Lady Grantchester, one of Britain’s richest women who helped her father build the Littlewoods empire and sold Everton football club in 1994, has died aged 93 after a short illness.
The peer, Betty Suenson-Taylor, was the oldest child of self-made business tycoon Sir John Moores, the founder of Littlewoods as well as the chairman and multimillionaire backer of Everton in the 1960s and 1970s.
A dedicated philanthropist, churchgoing Christian and lover of the outdoors, she was the scion of the Moores family, who served as director of the family firm between 1977 and 1997 when it boasted 510,000 employees and a £3.5 billion turnover.
Lady Grantchester receives her Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University at a service held at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in 2015. She is pictured with Lord Leveson
Born in June 1925, Lady Grantchester studied History and Law at Newnham College in Cambridge, where she met her husband, Kenneth Suenson-Taylor, who she married in 1947.
In 1971 she joined a business course and was later asked to join the Littlewoods board as the Liverpool-based company expanded to encompass retail, mail order and football pools.
Taking over as director in 1977, she was credited with restoring the company to financial health during a difficult late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1999, she was listed by The Independent newspaper as the wealthiest woman in the United Kingdom with a family fortune estimated to be over a billion pounds.
Lady Grantchester sold Littlewoods to the Barclays brothers in 2002, and handed over Everton to Peter Johnson in 1994.
She enjoyed the outdoors, often taking long walks in leafy Richmond Park in south-west London and over the Galloway hills in Scotland. In later years she was a keen gardener with extensive knowledge of Latin plant names.
Through her Christian faith, Lady Grantchester was a keen supporter of the Church, only missing a Sunday service when she fell ill.
She was an enthusiastic skier with a love for the Swiss mountains.
Lady Grantchester in an undated photo taken when she was serving on the Littlewoods board
Reading was another of her favourite pastimes and she had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Elizabethan history.
Lady Grantchester also supported many charitable causes, in particular in women’s education, through Newnham College, where she was an undergraduate, and Lucy Cavendish College in Cambridge, which gives undergraduate places for mature women students.
She was particularly involved in the Moores Family Charity, financed by 1% of Littlewoods profits, which funded local sporting and youth clubs, environmental projects such as the Mersey Forest, Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool, and arts organisations such as the Welsh National Opera.
A family statement today read: ‘In 2018, Lady Grantchester helped promote a celebration in Liverpool of 95 years of the Littlewoods Organisation and was disappointed when ill health prevented her attendance at the dinner in the Anglican Cathedral.
‘Lady Grantchester was also the driving force behind the revival and continued success of the celebrated John Moores Painting Prize.
‘In more recent years, seeing the synergies between Liverpool and Shanghai, she helped to found and organise the John Moores Painting Prize China which supports emerging artists in the Far East.
‘In 2015 she received an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University for her outstanding contribution to the arts, business and the community.’
Lady Grantchester’s father, Sir John Moores, (brown coat) watches on as Arsenal captain Kenny Sansom holds aloft the trophy at the Littlewoods Cup Final at Wembley in 1987
Lady Grantchester’s husband Kenneth became the Second Baron Grantchester on the death of his father in 1976. He died in 1995.
Her brother John died in 2012 and Peter in 2016.
She died peacefully at home on February 2 after a short illness, with her family at her side.
She is survived by her sister, six children, 18 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.
A funeral for family and friends will take place at St Andrew and St Mary in Grantchester. Flowers can be made through Flowers Boutique and donations, if desired, will go to Grantchester Church.
A memorial service will be held in London later in the year.