Eric Liddell was a Scottish athlete and missionary. Born in 1902, he shot to prominence following the Paris Olympics of 1924, where he won a gold medal for the 400m and a bronze for the 200m. He didn't compete in his best event, the 100m, because the heats were to be held on a Sunday, and he didn't want to break his Christian principles. Liddell's story was made famous by the 1981 film, 'Chariots of Fire'.
After the Olympics and his graduation from Edinburgh University, Liddell went to work as a missionary in north China in 1925. The mission he was working at was captured by the Japanese army in the course of the Second World War. Liddell was interned in a prisoner of war camp in 1943. He died there in February 1945. He was greatly mourned in Scotland and China.
Following his death, the Eric Liddell Memorial Fund was set up in Glasgow. Its inaugural meeting was held on 5th June 1945, in the board room of the Union Bank of Scotland's head office at 110 St Vincent Street. Two members of Union Bank staff also served as Honorary Treasurers of the Fund. Other committee members included Sir Hector Hetherington of Glasgow University, Sir Robert Bruce, Sir Steven Bilsland, Sir John Craig, the Earl of Home, the Duke of Montrose, and Lord Rowallan.
The objectives of the Fund were:
- Provision for the education and maintenance of Eric Liddell's three daughters.
- The institution of an Eric Liddell Missionary Scholarship at Edinburgh University.
- The institution of an Eric Liddell Challenge Trophy for Amateur Athletics.
- The provision of a Memorial in North China to commemorate Eric Liddell's work there.
In the end only the first and third objectives were achieved.
Two accounts in connection with the Fund were opened at the Union Bank: one for the Fund itself and another for the Eric Liddell Memorial Committee Publications. The latter was charged with the publication of a small pamphlet about the life of Eric Liddell, in order to raise money for the main Fund.
The Fund was eventually wound up in 1954, having raised £3,687 15s. The accounts were finally closed in 1958.