Glasgow born Liam Kane’s career began in newspapers. He was Chief Executive of The Herald and Times Group and, later, Managing Director of the Mirror Group in Scotland. He went on to be in charge of delivering the Millennium Dome, having joined the project in April 1998 before the venue’s opening on 31 December 1999.
It was towards the end of his career that Liam turned his attention to east London. In 2002, he became the Chief Executive of the business charity ELBA, a tiny organisation with an earnest desire to do good but which was struggling to stay afloat. Over the space of 14 years, Liam’s fearless leadership transformed ELBA into an impactful and dynamic organisation, leaving a legacy for east London and beyond.
Despite the changing fortunes of the City, a shift in corporate social responsibility approaches and the shrinking of public funding, Liam’s dedication and drive saw the number of staff at ELBA increase from 8 to 50. He tripled the number of major corporates actively supporting east London and, by the time he retired, over 14,000 highly skilled employees from the City and Canary Wharf were volunteering their services in the community.
Liam was particularly committed to helping the young people of east London, recognising their talent and untapped potential, and fighting to make sure they got the chance to achieve the careers that they deserve. In 2016 Liam received an MBE for services to regeneration and the communities of east London.
Liam was diagnosed with advanced oesophageal cancer just before Christmas 2018 and the disease progressed very rapidly. He died how he lived, with dignity and courage, and this was made possible by the skilled and respectful care he received at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney. They worked tirelessly to ensure he was pain free and his symptoms were under control.
Liam was an extraordinary man with a huge heart, who made the world a better place for so many people. Smart, kind, funny, a loving father and an outstanding leader, Liam had a unique gift of being able to connect with people. He will be greatly missed by his family and the whole of east London.
In Liam’s memory, we would like to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from St Joseph’s care and, like Liam, are helped to live life to the full to the very end.
RIP Liam James Kane. Born January 11th 1950, died February 4th 2019