David John Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville is a prominent English businessman, politician, the current Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and one of the UK’s most dedicated philanthropists.
Grandson to John James Sainsbury, the founder of the prolific supermarket chain, Lord David was given his late father’s stake in the company. After rising to the top ranks, he left the company as CEO to pursue a career in politics. A long-time member of the Labour Party, in 1997 he entered the House of Lords as a Labour peer, being created Baron Sainsbury of Turville. He served under the party’s Minister for Science and Innovation from 1998 to 2006.
Lord Sainsbury was by far the biggest financial backer of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign Remain campaign and even gave separate sums of £2.1 million to both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats. However, in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, 51.9% voted in favour of leaving the EU, which meant that the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign was unsuccessful in achieving its main goal.
With an emphasis on education, arts and humanitarian causes, Lord Sainsbury channels much of his philanthropic donations through his own Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Having founded the GCF in 1967, he went on to donate incremental sums totalling over £1 billion by 2009, making him the UK’s largest philanthropic donor.
His foundation continues to make significant contributions and supports innovative new projects in mental health, neuroscience, plant science and public policy. Sainsbury has donated £127 million of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s money to Cambridge University in the last decade. 2011 saw the opening of Cambridge’s Sainsbury Laboratory, paid for by an £82 million donation from the Gatsby Foundation made in 2008 — one of the biggest donations ever to be made to a British University.