HAMISH OGSTON

Hamish Ogston is an entrepreneur at heart and the founder of a number of successful ventures over more than four decades. One of his driving forces has always been a spirit of adventure, which was ignited at a young age. On leaving school, he joined the Norwegian Merchant Navy which took him to work across Canada. From here he joined a ship in the German Merchant Navy leading him to travel and work as far afield as Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti.

Ongoing Restoration of the Great East Window at York Minster.
© Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions for York Minster.

Philanthropy

Philanthropy has long been an important part of Hamish’s life and there are a number of causes that remain close to his heart.

During his youth Hamish was inspired by the cathedral at Salisbury, where he was a chorister, and has been a generous donor to the restoration of church buildings and also to the organs that provide the soundtrack to those memories. In 2009 Hamish funded the construction of Cranleigh School‘s new organ, a project undertaken by the renowned organ maker Mander Organs. A six-figure sum was donated in 2010 to restore the Hynish Centre on the Isle of Tiree which forms part of the Inner Hebrides. The Centre now provides a unique opportunity for disadvantaged young people to acquire new skills and experiences. In 2011 Hamish pledged NZ$4M to help rebuild Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand following the earthquake.

Hamish was awarded a CBE in 2011 for services to business and the community in York. Causes he has supported in the region include the restoration of the Great East Window at York Minster, funding of research into the redevelopment of York Central and the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, of which he is Vice-President.  In addition to the support of organ music Hamish has more broadly supported music and the development of musical talent. Recently this has resulted in the sponsorship of Kazakh concert pianist Dina Duisen and the funding of a new music school at St. Edward’s School, Oxford, where he previously donated the Life Sciences building, now called the Ogston Building.

I am not a believer in passing wealth between generations and being able to give back to causes I care about has given me great pleasure.

Business

Hamish Ogston has had an extensive business career spanning four decades and six start-ups. He is a serial entrepreneur who has always pursued his vision with determination and persistence. View Hamish Ogston’s profile on LinkedIn for more details.

In 1980 Ogston founded Card Protection Plan Ltd., which successfully grew into what became the CPP Group. The defining success of Hamish’s career to date, the business was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2010 and reached a valuation of more than £530m.The success of this business was hard won and a result of Hamish’s determination – it took thirteen years to make a positive return on invested capital. CPP grew into a company operating in 16 countries with over twelve million customers, 200 business partners and 2,200 employees.

Hamish has been a co-founder of a number of other innovative business ventures, including: Countdown, one of the first retail loyalty rewards schemes which was founded in 1970 and the Guinness World Records Museum, which opened in the London Trocadero in 1979.

The CPP Building in York
ALAMY

What success I’ve had stems largely from three things: hard work, a capacity for innovation and persistence.

The Ogston Deemsters at a celebratory Evensong on 7th July 2014.
© Liverpool Cathedral.

Interests

Hamish’s passion for music and the arts can be seen in the causes he supports and his history of philanthropy in this field. But he also pursues an eclectic range of other interests, including vintage cars and hot air ballooning.

Hamish is the proud owner of the only remaining Ogston Deemsters, which he actively maintains and races. These cars were produced by the Ogston Motor Company between 1912 and 1924 and only hundreds were made. The cars made an appearance at Liverpool Cathedral in 2014, where they were a centrepiece of a special service to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral.

The Deemsters often appear along with Hamish’s hot air balloon and while the opportunity to fly does not come around often, he relishes the occasion. 

I set off around the world at the age of 17 with just £50 in my pocket. That spirit of adventure has remained with me and finds some expression today via my interest in vintage cars and hot air balloons.