Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. He was knighted and made a life peer in 2000 (although he resigned his membership of the House of Lords in 2015 to concentrate on other areas of his life).
Lord Ashcroft was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in the UK from late 2005 to 2010, having previously served as party Treasurer from 1998 to 2001. He is Honorary Treasurer of the International Democratic Union (IDU), having previously served the group as Treasurer for more than a decade.
He has many, varied business interests with significant investments and participation in both public and private companies in the United Kingdom, United States and Caribbean. At various times, he has run companies employing more than 100,000 people.
Alongside his business acumen, Lord Ashcroft has altruistic endeavours that focus on his areas of particular interest, including education and crime prevention. In the UK, Lord Ashcroft is the founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Crimestoppers, Vice Patron of the Intelligence Corps Museum and Chairman of the Trustees of Ashcroft Technology Academy. He is also a Trustee of the Cleveland Clinic in the US. Lord Ashcroft has built up the largest collection of Victoria Crosses (VCs) in the world – more than 200 – which are on public display at a gallery bearing his name at the Imperial War Museum, London. In 2013, he signed up to The Giving Pledge, a commitment from some of the world’s richest people to donate the majority of their wealth to charity.
Lord Ashcroft is recognised as one of the UK’s most respected political pollsters. He has written 17 books, largely on politics and bravery.
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"We honour Michael Ashcroft as an outstanding alumnus of this University. He took an HND in Business Studies from Mid-Essex Technical College, here in Chelmsford. Mid-Essex Technical College was one of the predecessor institutions that combined to make up this University. Much has changed in the 35 years or so since Mr Ashcroft was a student here, although some things, like the Railway Tavern in Duke Street, still seem familiar to him. In the intervening years he has become one of the most successful business leaders in the country and this University is proud of the success of this distinguished alumnus.
His modest start in business included apprenticeships as a postman, a barman and a pop group manager. Now, he combines varied and successful international business interests with a range of charitable work. As well as being Chairman of Carlisle Holdings Ltd, he is also a board member of Tyco Inc. His work with the wider community includes Chairmanship of the Crimestoppers Trust, Industry in Education and the Prospect Education (Technology) Trust Ltd, which is responsible for the operation of ADT City Technology College in south west London.
He is also Chairman of the Board and Treasurer of the Conservative Party and Permanent Representative of Belize to the United Nations.
Carlisle Holdings is a transatlantic leader in business-to-business services, with over 50,000 employees in North America and the UK. Its current market capitalisation is more than £500m and combined annual sales will exceed £600m this year.
In 1977 Michael Ashcroft took over the Hawley Group Ltd, an ailing tent maker with a market capitalisation of £250,000. From this base he grew it into ADT Ltd, a leading provider of electronic security services with operations in North America, the UK, where it is the largest supplier of electronic security services, and continental Europe. In 1997 ADT Ltd combined in an agreed merger with Tyco Inc, which valued ADT at £4b.
Mr Ashcroft's work for the community is extensive. In 1998, with the encouragement of the then Home Secretary and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, he launched the Crimestoppers Trust, of which he is Chairman. The mission of the Trust is to create an alliance to fight crime. This is achieved through 29 regional boards of volunteers drawn from the local business communities, the media, local authorities and the police. Crimestoppers allows people to call anonymously a nation-wide free telephone number at any time of the day, to provide information on crime. The activities of Crimestoppers have resulted in the arrest and charging of almost 32,000 people, the police have received nearly a third of a million positive criminal intelligence calls and recovered stolen goods and drugs worth £65m! Crimestoppers is independent and relies upon voluntary donations. Michael Ashcroft personally and through his various companies, has contributed over £2.4m during the last 10 years.
In 1998 Michael Ashcroft was invited by the Government to become the principal sponsor of one of the new City Technology Colleges. ADT College was opened in Wandsworth in 1991, and is now widely regarded as a leading Technology College in the UK, providing secondary education for students aged from 11 to 18 years. Such is the popularity of the College that the 9th successive year the College was five times over-subscribed with applications for students' places. The results achieved by students in public examination, including 'A' levels, GCSEs and GNVQs are far above both the local and national average.
Following consultation with the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, it was agreed that there was a need to have much greater industrial involvement in the development of the national education service within the UK, particularly in the primary and secondary school sectors. Under the Chairmanship of Michael Ashcroft, Industry in Education - a national education trust - was launched in September 1993 and over the past six years has acted as the focal point of industrial involvement in education. The 27 trustees of Industry in Education are Chairmen and Chief Executives of major international and UK companies and professional institutions.
He also has an interest in helping the young people of Belize in Central America. The Michael A Ashcroft Foundation is directed particularly to support education, health and sport. Among its projects are those involved with IT, literacy, library and sports facilities and concern for those who have become addicted to drugs.
His other charitable interests have included The Ashcroft School in the Turks & Caicos Islands, the London City Ballet Trust, Action on Addiction, the Sir Cliff Richard Charitable Trust, The Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, RAFT, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and many others.
Michael Ashcroft has shown himself to be an exceptional entrepreneur who, using the vehicle of his global business empire, has reached out through many charitable bodies which he has personally initiated or supports, to encourage law and order, to enhance quality of life and to bring comfort to the young and the disadvantaged in society.
It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Michael Anthony Ashcroft an Honorary Doctorate of the University."