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Tom Farmer : biography

10 July 1940 -

Sir Thomas "Tom" Farmer, CVO, CBE, KCSG, FRSE, DL (born 10 July 1940) is a Scottish entrepreneur.

One of seven siblings in a devoutly Catholic family, in 1964 Farmer founded his own tyre retailing business which he sold in 1969 for £450,000. Farmer "retired" to the United States, but became bored and decided to find a new challenge. He returned to Edinburgh to found the Kwik-Fit chain of garages in 1971. The firm grew quickly, mainly through acquisition, including opening in the Netherlands in 1975. Known to be involved in fitting tyres of customers' cars, Farmer was named Scottish Businessman of the Year in 1989. After building the chain to become the world's largest independent tyre and automotive repair specialists with over 2,000 centres operating in 18 different countries, Farmer sold the firm to Ford in 1999 for more than £1 billion. He is the first Scot to be awarded the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Medal for philanthropy.

In 2006, he donated £100,000 to the Scottish National Party to help fund their campaign for the 2007 Scottish Parliament general election. Farmer commented at the time that it was not an indication of his political allegiance but that he wanted the SNP to be able to compete financially with their better-funded political opponents. Farmer repeated his endorsement for the SNP in the 2011 election.

Farmer was made a Knight Commander with Star of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a high honour that the Catholic Church can bestow on a layman. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1997. He is a supporter of the international development charity Mary's meals.

Farmer owns 90% of Hibernian, a professional football club based in Edinburgh. He invested nearly £3 million to rescue the club from receivership and he continued to fund developments of Easter Road and financial losses made by the club. Before his intervention, the club had been threatened during 1990 by an attempted takeover by Wallace Mercer, the owner of their Edinburgh derby rivals Hearts. Farmer has admitted that he has no great love of football, and he rarely attends matches. He felt it was important to the local community that Hibs should continue to exist, as he was informed by campaigners that his grandfather had saved the club from bankruptcy approximately 100 years earlier.Lugton, A. (1999) Ch. 14 'Down but not Out: 1891-1893'. In 'The Making of Hibernian Vol. I' (pp. 189-204). John Donald Publishers Limited. Farmer has delegated control of Hibs to other figures, such as Rod Petrie.

Farmer lives in Edinburgh, with his wife of 43 years, Anne. They have one daughter, one son and three grandchildren, Emma, Adam, and Matty. Farmer also owns the island of Inchkeith in the Firth of Forth. In 2007 after Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh was awarded full university status, he was named as founding Chancellor having been associated with the institution for a number of years.

Farmer was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 2009 New Year Honours for his work as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

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