Anyway, Richard took me out to lunch (I have him well trained) not to peddle Commercial Links, but to lodge a complaint: he has drawn my attention to something of a calumny. It concerns the Geoff Marsh Scholarship Fund at the University of Westminster.
Now, regular readers of this blog (and hundreds, if not thousands, of folk in the industry) will be familiar with the name of Geoffrey Kent Dowsett Marsh; he was friend and mentor to so many of us (me and Richard included). And he was the midwife to so many innovations in the property industry (live-work units, offices-into-homes, psf pricing on resi, and even the PRS, to name but a few, were all his babies). We miss him very keenly. And our industry is infinitely the poorer without him. He was forever thinking outside the box; he invented thought leadership in property really.
Geoff was (but of course) among many other things, a visiting professor in the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster - a post he held until his untimely death over five years ago. He rather revelled in this position and was always greatly amused when any of us referred to him as "the Professor".
Basically, on losing him, we (Geoff's huge retinue of friends and relations) in our grief, set up the fund for (poor) students from India to study real estate here in London; we did this in memory of Geoff's own transformational experiences in India and his deep and abiding love of the place, its people, their warmth, its smells and its culture.
When Geoff spoke of folk nicking electricity from the overhead cables in Ludhiana, or the dabbawalas (the young lads who bring the meals for the workers on the train to Mumbai from the villages) well, India just would come alive for all of us. He loved India's sense of humour, its can-do attitude and its contrasts (not least of all that Mumbai had the highest property values in the world in the mid noughties). So a scholarship for a bright young Indian, passionate about the built form, seemed a fitting tribute. And people were generous, as they loved Geoff. So we raised rather a lot of cash.
Richard Page (being an utter busybody), has been stalking the geezer who runs these things at the university, and he confirms there's a healthy balance in the fund. But although a cohort of very deserving students had been through the programme after it was set up, apparently there have been no awards made for a couple of years. So I said I would write about it on my blog to see if there are any takers out there.
The scholarship is worth quite a bit to the right boy or girl. Basically, if you are from India and hold an offer for a full-time masters degree for a relevant discipline in the University of Westminster, then the fund will cover all tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, flights to and from London AND THEN a one-year work placement at Investment Property Databank (courtesy of the lovely Rupert Nabarro) on successful completion of the course. A complete immersion in the property industry. This has to be a huge leg up for a bright young person from some part of India, surely?
Listen up out there, you mob with offices in India: JLL, CBRE, DTZ et al. You all know who you are. Tell your folk to have a look outside their front doors to see if there's any deserving youngster who could benefit. Get them to apply to the university for a place on the masters and to immediately apply for the scholarship. It would be a great shame if this fine memorial to our dear friend were not to transform the life of another bright young woman or man from the sub-continent; in the same way that the sub-continent transformed the life of one of the loveliest people that ever walked on this planet.