Remembering Dr Peter Johnson: A lasting legacy of philanthropy and impact at the University of Liverpool and beyond

Published on

Dr Peter Johnson (left) and Professor Gavin Brown (right)

Following the news last week of the death of businessman and philanthropist, Dr Peter Johnson, the University of Liverpool and Merseyside has lost a great friend and advocate.

Peter was one of the Liverpool City Region’s best-known businessmen. Having left school at 16 to become a trainee butcher, he went on to become a major supplier of Christmas hampers, founding the highly successful Park Group, the UK’s leading shopping voucher business, based in Birkenhead. Peter was also well-known as the former owner of Tranmere Rovers and Everton football clubs.

Peter was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Liverpool in 2023 in recognition of his many achievements. Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Gavin Brown, said: “I was honoured to meet Peter to award him an honorary degree. He was a truly exceptional individual who made an outstanding contribution to the success of the University of Liverpool, the Liverpool City Region, and well beyond. The University has lost a true friend and would like to offer our deepest condolences to Peter’s family.”

Although Peter did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education himself, he was a dedicated supporter of work across the University of Liverpool.

In 1987 Peter founded The Johnson Foundation, which benefited thousands of people across the Liverpool City Region and raised more than £10m for education, health and the relief of poverty.

The Johnson Foundation’s support kickstarted the radiation therapy programme at the Small Animal Teaching Hospital in Leahurst, with more than 6,000 patients seen since its inception.

Professor Paul Lunn, Dean of the School of Veterinary Science, said: “Many colleagues at Leahurst remember Peter warmly. The impact of his generosity is still felt today, as cancer-affected patients from all over the UK continue to benefit from radiation therapy delivered in the Johnson Foundation Radiotherapy Unit.”

In 2013 the Johnson Foundation supported a new initiative in Head and Neck Cancer research at the University of Liverpool and Aintree Hospital. This funding was an important step towards the creation of the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre in 2018, which is now the largest integrated NHS/university collaboration in the UK for research and treatment of patients with disease of the head and neck.

The Johnson Foundation also supported the University of Liverpool’s child health research at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, with the respiratory disease research advancing techniques used in the university’s world-leading Covid-19 research, and interventions to help premature babies.

Our thoughts are with Peter’s family and friends at this sad time.