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Camden News - by DAN CARRIER
Published: 8 January 2009

David Swinstead
Millionaire with a golden heart leaves fortune to charity in will

Quakers, homeless groups and Amnesty among the beneficiaries of gravy empire

A MILLIONAIRE who made his fortune selling organic gravy granules was more interested in spending his earnings on animal charities and Quaker groups than buying expensive clothes.
The will of David Swinstead, who died last year aged 90, has revealed how a host of social and charities are set to benefit from his lifetime of good deeds and hard work.
Mr Swinstead earned £5 million from running the Marigold Health Food company which he and three others set up 33 years ago.
Friend and fellow Quaker Rod Harper said: “He was never one to go in for flash clothes.
“I recall I once saw him walking down the road with a plastic bag that was full of cash – it must have been thousands of pounds in notes.
“He was going to a bank with it and I said to him that he should be careful, that he may get mugged. He replied: ‘No one would bother – I look like an old tramp.”
A specialist in organic products and renowned in the catering industry for Marigold’s vegetable stocks, Mr Swinstead, whose firm was based in King’s Cross, left a variety of legacies in his will to causes close to his heart.
Published last week, the will included £50,000 to the Britain Yearly Meeting – a Quaker organisation – and £25,000 to groups including Friends of the Earth, The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and Amnesty UK.
Oxfam, Unicef, Shelter, Wateraid and the east London-based group Quaker Social Action were all given £15,000, while two Hampstead Quaker groups received windfalls of £10,000.
The Woodland Trust and Childline received £10,000 each.
Mr Swinstead, who lived in Hampstead and grew up in Swiss Cottage, came from a family of well-known artists: his father, Felix was a composer while his mother gave piano recitals.
Health food was not his original calling. After leaving university, Mr Swinstead became an accountant, and it as only when he was 60, and casting round for a new challenge as he approached his retirement, that he decided to establish the company.
He had long been interested in social action and good food: his experiences in the 1930s that set the tone for the rest of his life.
Although Mr Swinstead came from a family of Protestants, he was influenced by the Quaker movement, pacifism and vegetarianism – a trend championed by the likes of George Bernard Shaw.
Mr Harper added: “He decided he could not fight in World War Two and as a conscientious objector volunteered as an ambulance driver.
“He had to go before a tribunal to explain why did not want to join the armed services – and spoke to Quakers beforehand to help clarify his own thoughts regarding pacifism.
“He worked for the Friends Ambulance Service through the war, and joined the Hampstead Quakers, who meet in Heath Street.”
His stepdaughter Zita Tulyahikayo said: “He liked to keep himself busy and active and then he had a young second family, so he looked a for a business he could work in.
“That was how he came to set up Marigold.
“David became a pioneer, selling organic food when it was still seen as cranky.”

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