Death of Andre Benard, the creator of the Channel Tunnel with Alastair Morton.

Lord Berkeley

t160325 Andre Benard notice le Figaro

Andre Benard died on 15 March 2016 at the age of 93.  He was chairman or co-chairman with Sir Alastair Morton during the construction period of the Channel Tunnel 1987 to 1993.  Their partnership through difficult financial and contractual crises achieved its completion and formal opening by HM Queen Elizabeth and President Mitterrand.

I worked on the Channel Tunnel from 1981 to 1994 and gained an enormous amount of respect for Andre and Alastair in achieving what many believed was impossible financially at that time; to do so without ‘a penny of public money’ as Mrs Thatcher frequently reminded us.

To celebrate 20 years after the opening of the Tunnel, I organised a reception in the House of Lords in March 2015, for all the many people in the UK, France and elsewhere who had taken part in the development and construction of this project, and we were honoured that Andre was able to join us with his wife, Jacqueline, and say a few words to so many of his old friends.

We shall all miss his inspirational leadership of a unique project.

Tony Berkeley

Terry Gourvish, author of the commissioned history of Britain and the Channel Tunnel, writes:

André Bénard, a former MD of Shell, and a senior adviser to Lazard Frères, was appointed co-chairman of Eurotunnel in 1986. He worked effectively with Alastair Morton, his British counterpart, in steering an often shaky project to completion. Quieter than Sir Alastair, he was no less effective as a leader. The provision of rail infrastructure raised difficult questions on both sides of the Channel, and in 1986-7 the French Finance Ministry was doubtful about the viability of a Paris-Tunnel TGV line. As John Noulton observed in his appreciation last week,* Bénard was a critical figure in persuading the French government to give the go-ahead to this investment. He was also just as prominent as Morton in tackling the numerous disputes which arose with the contractors in the four years before the Tunnel was completed in 1994.

*At the Channel Tunnel 20 conference in Canterbury, marking the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Canterbury.

I append links to obituaries, and will add more if I find them (TB).

t160403 The Times obituary A Benardé-Bénard






3 comments for “Death of Andre Benard, the creator of the Channel Tunnel with Alastair Morton.

  1. MilesJSD
    23/03/2016 at 10:18 am

    If this ‘world-leading-democracy’ were honestly serious about maintaining its sovereign-power [namely The People] both fully-informed and scrutiny-capable

    then our impartial-rulers should be maintaining a long-long-list of Current Tasks-in-Progress, the state of each, and the names of those workplace-employees, but especially of names and circumstances of involved ‘unpaid-voluntary Lifeplace proactivists’,
    I would think on at least a month-to-month basis,
    and showing both the level-of-priority of each project/task/situation/predicament, and
    the involvement of each ‘interested’ participant.

    That would be delivering to us the ‘state-of-task’ and ‘state-of-participant’
    whilst ‘alive-and-kicking’

    instead of the unavoidable ‘sweet talk whitewashing’ put across by unconfirmable eulogies belatedly after death.

    [The same should be being-done for each of our Representatives, such as currently retiring Baroness Knight in Lord Norton’s blog below this one]

  2. chazot
    23/03/2016 at 10:45 am

    Well done, Tony. Thanks. See you on April Ist. Kind regards. Georges

  3. Jeanne Labrousse
    02/04/2016 at 8:11 am

    Merci Tony pour ces informations données sur le décès d’André Bénard.
    Les hommages qui lui ont été rendus durant la cérémonie hier ont été à la hauteur de la mission qu’il a accomplie à Eurotunnel et à la personnalité exceptionnelle qu’il a été tout au long de sa vie. Sir Christopher Mallaby et Jean Gueguinou en particulier, lui ont rendu hommage dans les allocutions qu’ils ont prononcées à la fin de la Messe. Tous les participants français à la construction étaient représentés, et nous avons été heureux de retrouver Peter Ratzer. La presse anglaise a été formidqble.
    Mille amitiés, en espérant vous revoir bientôt. Jeanne

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