LORD RANK (1888 - 1972)
Lord Rank was born in 1888, the son of Joseph Rank, a prominent Yorkshire mill owner. At the age of 17 he joined his father's flour milling business, in which he was employed throughout the early part of his life.
Lord Rank was a devout Christian and it was his interest in showing religious films to children in the Sunday school of his local church which first brought him into the world of cinema and so changed the course of his career. Starting by financing the production of films, he went on to acquire and develop interests in all areas of the industry - exhibition, distribution, production, studios and technology.
By 1941 he was the dominant figure in British films. Since that time, the company which he founded, The Rank Organisation plc (now The Rank Group plc), has greatly expanded in the fields of leisure, entertainment and technology.
Following the death of his father, and of his elder brother, Lord Rank also took control in 1952 of the family milling business, Ranks Hovis McDougall plc (now Hovis Ltd), becoming in turn Chairman and Life President.
Lord and Lady Rank undertook a wide range of charitable work throughout their lives. In 1953 they set up The J. Arthur Rank Group Charity (now The Rank Foundation http://www.rankfoundation.com), from which donations were later made to endow The Rank Prize Funds. In establishing charitable foundations, Lord Rank followed in a tradition established by his father, Joseph Rank, whose work continues today through The Joseph Rank Trust http://www.ranktrust.org.
The two areas of research covered by The Rank Prize Funds - on the one hand human and animal nutrition and crop husbandry and on the other optoelectronics - thus relate to the fields into which Lord Rank's career led him - flour milling and the film industry.