Viscount Ridley dies aged 86

Matthew White Ridley, 4th Viscount Ridley
Matthew White Ridley, 4th Viscount Ridley

VISCOUNT Ridley, a towering figure in Northumberland life for almost half a century, has died aged 86.

The Northumberland Gazette and Morpeth Herald learned this afternoon that the former Lord Lieutenant of the county, who resided at Blagdon Hall, passed away yesterday (Thursday, March 22).

Born on July 29, 1925, Matthew White Ridley was the son of the 3rd Viscount and Ursula Lutyens, daughter of Sir Edwin Lutyens. His younger brother Nicholas Ridley, Baron Ridley of Liddesdale, was a prominent Conservative Party politician who served as a government minister for nearly all of Margaret Thatcher’s years as Prime Minister.

As a young man, he was educated at Eton before joining the Coldstream Guards and serving in Normandy and Germany between 1944 and 45.

In 1948 he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, before serving as an aide-de-camp to the Governor of Kenya.

Later he joined the Territorial Army, reaching the rank of Brevet Colonel in the Northumberland Hussars and became the Honorary Colonel of that unit in 1979.

After succeeding his father in the viscountcy in 1964, he embarked on a prolific period of public service, including roles as chairman of Northumberland County Council from 1967 to 1979, Chancellor of the University of Newcastle from 1988 to 1999, Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland from 1984 to 2000 and as Lord Steward of the Household from 1989 to 2001.

He also chaired several companies and societies, most notably as chairman of Northern Rock Bank.

In his personal life, Viscount Ridley married Lady Anne Katharine Gabrielle Lumley, daughter of Lawrence Lumley, 11th Earl of Scarbrough, in 1953. She died in 2006.

The couple had four children – Mary, Cecilia, Rose and a son, Matthew, who is heir to the title.

* See Thursday’s paper for a full obituary and tributes.