Our History

Our Trustees

Board of Trustees (1999 – present)

A Board of Trustees was appointed by the 3rd Viscount Leverhulme to oversee the Wirral Estate, working closely with him until his death in 2000. Since then the Trustees – working closely with his descendants – have been responsible for setting the direction of the Estate whilst seeking to follow in the best traditions of the three Viscounts, looking after Estate tenants and serving the wider community.

The current Trustees are:

Michael Benson

Michael Benson

Michael has a financial background, retiring as Deputy Chairman of the FTSE 100 investment management company, AMVESCAP, where he headed up the all the Group’s non-US businesses.  Michael’s family has a long association with the Lever family: his great uncle, D’Arcy Cooper, became a Director of Lever Brothers in 1923 and became Chairman of the company on the death of the 1st Viscount Leverhulme. In 1929 Cooper was instrumental in the merger of Lever Brothers with Margarine Unie to form what is today Unilever, and he became the first Chairman of the newly formed company.

Michael was asked by Philip Leverhulme to become a Trustee of the Leverhulme Family Trusts in 1997 and is currently Chairman of the Trustees.  He divides his time between London and Yorkshire, where he helps his wife look after a flock of black Welsh Mountain sheep on their small farm.  After retiring from full-time work Michael was involved with York Minster, where he oversaw a £20 million, Heritage Lottery Fund – backed project to repair and restore the Great East Window, which is probably the finest example of medieval stained glass in the world.  He also continues to be involved with a number of companies both at home and abroad.

Clive Macintosh

Clive Mackintosh

Clive became a Trustee in July 2017.  Before this he was a Partner at PwC, where he specialised in advising families in the UK and abroad.  Clive worked for PwC for nearly 40 years, the last 20 or so being the Partner responsible for the UK private client practice and latterly the private client practice in Europe.

Clive led the PwC team advising the Lever family for more than 15 years and so has been involved in all aspects of the Leverhulme Estates over a long period.  He brings a wealth of experience in advising UK estates to his role as a Trustee, and has similar roles with other families.  When not on Trustee duties Clive plays cricket and golf and partakes in country pursuits.  He is married with three children.

Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith

A qualified lawyer, Christopher has worked in the City of London for more than 40 years.  For much of that time he was a partner of Cazenove & Co., and following the merger with JP Morgan, a Managing Director – Corporate Finance of JP Morgan Cazenove.  He is now Chairman of Law Debenture Corporation, CG Asset Management and Deputy Chairman of Allchurches Trust, which owns the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office.  He is also Chairman of the Trustees of King’s Medical Research Trust.

Christopher is married with three grown-up children.  A keen fisherman from an early age, he also enjoys sailing and walking.

Ceris Gardner

Ceris Gardner

Ceris is a founding Partner of private client law firm Maurice Turnor Gardner and is recognised as an expert legal adviser to large estates, their Trustees and beneficiaries.  Ceris has been a Trustee of the Wirral Estate since 2014 and focuses on legal issues, putting her extensive knowledge of the duties and liabilities of Trustees and the interests of their beneficiaries to good use.

Ceris is also actively involved in the charity sector, serving as a Trustee of Philanthropy Impact (a body which incorporates the European Association for Planned Giving, Philanthropy UK and the Philanthropy Advisers Forum) and Crimestoppers, and brings with her a wealth of experience as a Trustee in the not-for-profit area.

Ceris is an avid rugby and tennis fan and loves film and the theatre.