Sir Peter Youens, KES 1930-35

Peter Youens was in the First XI cricket team of 1935 and was Second Prefect in 1934/35. See this link for other mentions of Youens in the KES archives.

There is also an obituary in the Guardian.

Obituary in the Daily Telegraph; June 2000

Colonial officer who became Hastings Banda's right hand man in Malawi and then one of Tiny Rowland's few close friends
Youens accompanies Dr Banda to talks in London (1964)

SIR PETER YOUENS, who died on 6 May 2000, aged 84, was secretary to Dr Hastings Banda, the first Prime Minister of Malawi.

Youens had become Deputy Chief Secretary of Nyasaland (now Malawi) in 1953. In the same year, the Scottish-trained Banda left his GP's practice in west London and returned to Africa to involve himself in the struggle for independence.

Banda became leader of the Nyasaland African Congress in 1958, and established a strong rapport with Youens, who was acting Chief Secretary - number two to the Governor of the colony - for extended periods.

The relationship was often a jocular one; Youens mediated in negotiations between Banda and the Governor, Sir Glyn Jones, and learned to recognise "a grin and a wink" from Banda which indicated that an undertaking on his part was unlikely to be fulfilled.

Youens was a man of charm and courage, whose self-contained manner and twinkling eye gave no secrets away. He was capable of standing up to Banda in argument, and earned his gratitude in April 1960 by flying to Gwelo in Southern Rhodesia to arrange his release after some months in detention.

Banda was grateful for his release, but even more so, he confided, for having gained credibility by serving time as a political prisoner. Banda was brought into the political fold as Nyasaland's minister for natural resources in the first shift towards self-government in 1961.

Conservative ministers in Westminster were at that time still trying to hold together the Central African Federation (of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland) but pressure towards break-up and independence was becoming irresistible, with Banda to the fore. When he became Prime Minister in 1963, in preparation for independence in the next year, he asked for Youens as his private secretary.

It was a turbulent period. Some expatriate officials found it hard to adjust to working for the new regime, but Youens was loyal to Banda and defused several potentially troublesome situations. When Banda dismissed all but one of his ministers in September 1964, he relied on Youens to continue running the administration.

Shortly afterwards, Youens risked death by addressing a gathering in the market place of Zomba of hundreds of African civil servants angered by pay cuts and armed with sticks and broken bottles; he persuaded them to return to work. He remained secretary to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet until 1966, when Banda declared Malawi a republic and himself its president.

By then Tiny Rowland, the German-born managing director of Lonrho, was emerging as one of the most powerful and manipulative businessmen in Africa, with an extraordinary degree of access to black African leaders. In Malawi, Lonrho had sugar plantations in the Nyasa valley and controlled the railway link to the port of Nacala in Mozambique - having acquired ownership of a vital bridge on the route.

Youens became one of Rowland's few genuinely close friends - in later years they often spent holidays together - and provided him with particularly valuable links to Banda and his ministers.

After retiring from Malawi, Youens became an executive director of Lonrho, acting on occasion as the secretive Rowland's spokesman to the press. He left in 1969 to spend a decade as a head-hunter with the firm of John Tyzack & Partners, but returned to the Lonrho board in 1980 and remained at Rowland's side as one of his most trusted advisers on African affairs.

In 1994, after control of Lonrho had passed from Rowland to the German businessman Dieter Bock, Youens - by then 77 - and three other long-serving Rowland loyalists were forced into retirement.

Despite protests from small shareholders embittered by Lonrho's fading performance and the favourable terms on which Rowland had sold his stake to Bock - one investor spoke of "the greed that has been condemned by leaders of Church and state" - the four directors received pay-offs totalling £2.5 million, of which Youens' share was £300,000.

Peter William Youens was born on April 29 1916; his father was a clergyman in the south Yorkshire parish of Brodsworth, and his elder brother John was eventually to become Chaplain-General to the Forces. Peter was educated at King Edward VII School, Sheffield, and Wadham College, Oxford, where he won a Blue for boxing and almost won another for rugby.

Youens joined the Colonial Administrative Service in 1938, and served briefly in the Navy before becoming an assistant district commissioner in Sierra Leone in 1942.

He advanced to district commissioner in 1948 and membership of the colony's legislative council in 1950.

He moved to Nyasaland as assistant secretary in 1951, and was a member of the legislative council there from 1954 until 1961.

He was appointed OBE in 1960, CMG 1962, and he was knighted in 1965.

He loved theatre and opera, and was very widely read.

Peter Youens married, in 1943, Diana Hawkins, who died in 1990. They had two daughters.