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Obituary : Dr Lester Borley CBE

Lester Borley, who has died aged 88, was Secretary-General of Europa Nostra (1993-96) and Chairman of Europa Nostra UK (2009-12).

Educated at Dover Grammar School and Queen Mary College and Birkbeck College, London University, he was a member of an ESU debating team which toured the USA in 1954. It was the following year that he joined the British Travel Association, holding posts in the USA, Australia and West Germany between 1955 and 1969. As Chief Executive of the newly constituted Scottish Tourist Board from 1970 to 1975 and of the English Tourist Board from 1975 to 1983 Lester was closely involved in the creation and promotion of new forms of cultural tourism, working with Government agencies and voluntary bodies responsible for the care, protection and promotion of our heritage. In 1983 he became Director of the National Trust for Scotland, retiring in 1993, when he was appointed CBE.

In his 26 years of active and energetic retirement he was the organiser of and speaker at many national and international conferences on conservation and cultural heritage. He devoted much of his time to pro bono work in the changing regimes of Europe, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and was particularly involved in post-graduate teaching. He worked in 28 different European countries undertaking missions or projects for UNESCO, ICOMOS, the World Monuments Fund and the Getty Foundation, often in conjunction with the Council of Europe or the European Commission.

He also contributed to many publications on heritage management and the development of cultural tradition. Europa Nostra members will recall, in particular, The Grand Tour and its Influence on Architecture, Artistic Taste and Patronage which was published in 2008 and Dear Maurice: Culture and Identity in Late 20th Century Scotland, a tribute to his predecessor as Secretary-General, Dr Maurice Lindsay. Lester was a Founder Fellow of the Tourism Society (1978), FRSA (1982), Hon FRSGS (1989) and received a DLitt award from the Robert Gordon Institute of Technology, Aberdeen, in 1991.

Europa Nostra members especially will remember Lester as a leading voice in support of cultural heritage in the UK and throughout Europe as a member of Council and as Secretary-General. His wife Mary survives him together with his three daughters Stephanie, Megan and Jessica.

Lester Borley, born 7 April 1931, died 13 October 2019

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