Michael Oglesby CBE: A Life Well Lived

22 November 2019

Yesterday Bruntwood, with sadness and respect, announced the death of its founder Michael Oglesby CBE. City of Trees would like to pay tribute.

Jess Thompson, Director, City of Trees comments: "The team at City of Trees are deeply saddened to hear that that we have lost a true pioneer in community forestry.  Mike Oglesby was incredibly passionate about trees and woodlands and a great believer in the role of natural world for improving the quality of life for people across Greater Manchester. 

The Oglesby Charitable Trust spearheaded the City of Trees movement, and Mike was instrumental in redefining the ambition and scale of opportunities for greening Greater Manchester, and beyond.  Mike leaves a very special legacy - a growing culture of tree planting - where people can experience the joy of planting trees, and the magic of woodlands, for generations to come."


Mr Oglesby passed away peacefully surrounded by his close family at the age of 80. He is survived by his wife Jean and children Chris and Kate.

He leaves a remarkable legacy of business and philanthropic achievement, having founded Bruntwood in 1970 and built it into one of the UK’s most successful property businesses. 

Michael Oglesby was born in 1939 in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire and, after receiving a degree in building at Aston University, spent his early working years in the construction industry before moving to Manchester in 1970.

Over 40 years he grew Bruntwood from a modest beginnings to becoming one of the leading commercial property owners in the English regions. The Company owns in excess of 120 buildings in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham, comprising approximately 8,800,000 sq ft with a value in excess of £1 billion. In Manchester city centre, Bruntwood owns approximately 20% of the commercial office space.

He was married for over 50 years and lived in Bowdon. The importance of the family was always one of his core beliefs and founded the family stability charity FASTN. His son Chris succeeded him as CEO of Bruntwood in 1998 and his daughter Kate works in the business and has recently taken over as Chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust (OCT).

A strong believer in both personal and business philanthropy, since 1999, Mr Oglesby devoted the majority of his time to a broad portfolio of activities which cover the arts, civic roles, health and education. With his wife Jean he established OCT in 2000. It supports a variety of organisations in education, medical research, the arts and social inequalities and has become one of the North’s major charitable giving organisations. To date it has donated in excess of £16 million to over 300 charities.

Mr Oglesby served as Chairman of the Steering Board for the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and sat on the Manchester LEP Board and the Global Leadership Board for the University of Manchester. He was a Vice President of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and, as a Fellow of Chetham’s School of Music, leading the team responsible for building the new School of Music in Manchester. He was also an ambassador for the Woodland Trust.

A past Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Royal Northern College of Music, MIDAS (responsible for Inward Investment in Manchester) and the Carol Concert Committee of the CLIC Sargent Children’s Cancer Charity. He also sat on the Board of the North West Business Leadership Team and the High Sheriff’s Police Trust.

In 2006 Mr Oglesby was voted Businessman of the Year in the North West by the CBI and in May 2006 he received an honorary law doctorate from the University of Manchester. In June 2007 Aston University bestowed an honorary doctorate in Science upon him and in November 2007 the Royal Northern College of Music also conferred an honorary degree upon him. HRH The Prince of Wales presented his Medal for Arts Philanthropy to Michael, and his wife Jean, in November 2011.

Michael was awarded the CBE in the January 2011 Honours List for his services to Industry and Charity.

From April 2007 to April 2008 he was High Sheriff of Greater Manchester. From May 2009 to June 2014 he was Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester. He retired in 2014 having serviced his full term of office

Shared Health Foundation
City of Trees
Oglesby Charitable Trust