Millionaire brothers honour Scots mother with £5 million gift to Glasgow University

By Ian Marland at

A family foundation has given £5 million to the University of Glasgow towards the construction of a key part of its new West End campus.

The new Institute of Health and Wellbeing will be known as the Clarice Pears Building thanks to the investment by the Pears Foundation.

The family-run charitable organisation invests in excess of £20 million per annum across the UK and internationally.

Pears Building

Pictured: Sir Trevor Pears and University of Glasgow Principal Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli (on right ) with the plans of the new building. Photo: Martin Shields

It is part of one of the biggest privately-owned property companies in the UK which has thousands of investments worth billions of pounds.

It is run by brothers Mark, Trevor and David Pears whose mother Clarice was born in Shawlands, Glasgow in 1933. She died aged 65 in 1999.

The Clarice Pears Building is expected to cost in excess of £40 million when it is built.

It will help researchers tackle health inequalities by enhancing research collaborations across the Institute and its partners, and supporting engagement at a local, national and global level, according to the university.

Sir Trevor Pears said: “It is a privilege to name this fantastic building after our mother, who was immensely proud of her Scottish roots.

“There is a lot of resonance between the work of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing and our philanthropic goals; the research done there is very much applied and practical and we hope it goes from strength to strength.”

‘Extremely grateful’

Clarice Pears lived in a tenement flat in Lochside Street, Shawlands. She moved to London where she met and married property heir Clive Pears.

Her parents were Abraham and Hannah Castle, and her father worked in an electrical retail shop.

The Clarice Pears building is part of the University £1 billion campus development programme and will be located on the site of the former Western Infirmary.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “We are extremely grateful for the generous donation from Pears Foundation which will revolutionise the study of health and wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, helping to build collaborations and inspire world changing research.

“The Institute’s work has already having a major impact on public health policy in Glasgow, Scotland, and internationally, and this new facility will mean we can do more.”

Professor Jill Pell, director of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, said: “The generous support of Pears Foundation will help us achieve our vision to improve health and reduce health inequalities on a local, national and global scale.”

Four years ago, the family foundation donated more than £100,000 to Glasgow charities working with homeless and elderly people.

The brothers sent out cheques of between £5,000 and £10,000 to 16 charities operating in the city.

Clarice Pears Building

Named: The new Institute of Health and Wellbeing will be known as the Clarice Pears Building

They told The Daily Express newspaper they had been inspired to choose Glasgow by their mother.

“She was born and raised at the family home in Lochside Street, Shawlands by her parents Abraham – an electrical/wireless appliance dealer – and Hannah Castle.

“She came to London for work in her early twenties and met our father.

“Unfortunately she passed away some 15 years ago so we cannot ask for her personal abiding memories of the city.

“However, we vividly recall one of her favourite expressions being, ‘Do you think I came up the Clyde on a bicycle?’.

The family fortune is based on a vast property empire, mainly in the London and south of England, which at one time was reputed to be worth around £6billion.

It has been built up over six decades after the William Pears Group was founded by the brothers’ grandfather Bernard, a north London greengrocer, and father Clive in 1952.

The family have given few interviews over the years and have chosen to keep their business dealings out of the public glare.