Christian Youens (LI 1986-91), brother of Arabella Youens (LI 1993-95), died, aged 50, on July 13, 2023. He had been diagnosed with MND just before the UK went into its first lockdown of 2020 and had navigated the following nearly three and a half years, as the disease took its increasingly cruel physical toll on his body, with courage, stoicism and humour.
He arrived at Marlborough College from Ludgrove in September of 1986 and went on to spend some extremely happy years at the school, the final two of which as a proud member of the 1st XI cricket team. A group of OMs—including members of that team—gathered at his funeral held in Wiltshire in late July and for a party held in London to celebrate his life in November. An OM cricket match in his name is being held at the college on Saturday, July 6, 2024, organised by Roddy Chisolm-Batten (LI 1986-91).
Having studied hotel management in Switzerland after Marlborough, Christian worked in various roles within the sector before turning his attention to hotel investment. Living by now in Wiltshire, with his wife and three children, he spent nine years working for the Mayfair-based group Cedar Capital. The team at Cedar supported him throughout his illness, for which his family are forever grateful, and they continue to raise funds for MND charities in his memory.
The following is part of an address given at his funeral by his cousin, one of his best friends and fellow cricket aficionado, Guy Pasley-Tyler.
When I think of some of Christian’s most pronounced qualities, they all shone forth in this time, his bravery, his gentle wisdom and his sense of humour. If he felt any self-pity he certainly never let on.
By dint of circumstance, he seemed – to me at least – to live an impossibly glamorous early life with his parents based in Singapore for 6 years, New York for nearly 3 and Hong Kong for a further 3. Christian appeared to jet into Ludgrove and out of Marlborough, interspersed with regular skiing trips and trips to tropical islands in Asia or the Caribbean.
We shared interests on the sporting field too, including tennis and a lifelong love of cricket, at both of which his talent eclipsed mine but nonetheless we both enjoyed. It seemed fitting that the last time I saw Christian, about 3 weeks ago, we were able to spend some time watching the Ashes together.
I wasn’t privy to Christian’s school reports – and thankfully he never saw any of mine either – but his parents assured me that while he cruised through Marlborough, his best efforts were reserved for the playing fields rather than the classroom.
By some coincidence our professional lives also overlapped as we ended up working for similar organisations in the hotel investment sector. I would like to make mention of Phil and the team at Cedar Capital, many of whom are here today. They have been incredibly supportive of Christian ever since his diagnosis, maintaining his genuine involvement in the business right up until the end and this gave him a great sense of purpose, keeping his brain occupied, always looking forward to their daily 4pm team catch-ups.
Phil saw him on the day he died and read Christian messages of love and support from all the team. He kindly shared them with me and it was impossible to read them without feeling a dual sense of great pride and great sadness. All the qualities that I had recognised in Christian 40 years ago were still burning bright at work – variously lauded for his knowledge, curiosity, humour and kindness and known as the voice of reason.
It was no coincidence that last week I found myself looking up the dictionary definition of a ‘gentleman’. Chivalrous. Courteous. Honourable. I can’t think of 3 better words to describe my great friend and cousin. We will all miss you so much, Christian, but thank you for the wonderful memories you gave us over the last 50 years.
Christian leaves behind his wife, Anna, and their three children: Thomas, Oliver and Flora.