Friday, December 8, 2023

ARGENTINA | 27-08-2021 23:16

Malcolm Hunter OBE, key figure in Argentina’s British community, dies at 91

Ex-ABCC chief, business leader and charitable soul Malcom Hunter OBE has to go down as one of the most important leaders the British community in Argentina has ever had.

Malcolm Hunter OBE, who died in mid-month at the age of 91, has to go down as one of the most important leaders the British community has ever had.

Although only chairing the Argentine-British Community Council for two brief years (1994-1996), he made the ABCC what it is today – not least because he gave it that name. Until his chairmanship it was called the British Community Council but he changed it to ABCC because it had long ceased to be only British. Quite apart from the fact that virtually every Anglo-Argentine (including himself) was born here, a lot of British people had married Argentines often without the slightest link to the community, into which he strongly felt they should be welcomed. This he also saw as building for the future by making their children interested, forming a Youth Committee for that purpose.

But apart from these existential decisions defining the identity and philosophy of the community, Hunter also brought a keen business eye to the financial health of the ABCC, introducing a direct debit campaign so that members could support the community without needing to give it a single thought after the initial commitment – “the 10 pesos per month campaign,” he called it (doesn’t sound like much now, but those were convertibility years when a peso was worth a dollar whereas we have had two decades of inflation since).

This was not his only fund-raising initiative but Malcolm was always ready to drop one letter from that word – fund-raising could also be fun-raising in his book. Thus he organised events such as The Musical Evenings at Northland's to which he brought residents from the Babs home for the elderly, Quiz Nights and outdoor activities such as a visit to Martin Garcia island, a Tigre regatta, etc.  All these events went to helping the needy. All his services to the British community received rapid recognition in the form of an OBE awarded by Queen Elizabeth in 1997, just a year after his chairmanship.

But Malcolm Hunter’s generosity was not only limited to the British community, working as a voluntary helper in several charities. He had an especially soft spot for the blind, recording study books for them in pre-computer days and co-organising a party for them every November, in which the show was performed by blind people, also reading out plays for them.

Yet while believing deeply in the community and blessed with an ability to bring people together for a good cause, his main aim in life was always to help the needy.

“All he did was always done following his principles – honesty, respect, truth and love,” says his widow Silvia.  

Malcolm Roberto Hunter was born in this city on January 13, 1930, growing up in Temperley. He was educated in St Alban's and entered the advertising business, working for McCann Erickson. Marrying Silvia in 1960 and starting a family, he led a happy and useful life until Argentina’s darkest years when he became the target of guerrilla death threats as an executive working for Unite States bosses. Nor did he feel comfortable with the military dictatorship which followed and he ended up leaving the country – first to Brazil and then with McCann Erickson’s parent holding Interpublic in the United States from 1978 to 1982. But the return of democracy also saw his return to Buenos Aires to revive the McCann Erickson offices there, working as their Financial Manager until he retired in 1991, which freed him to work full time for community activities. For the next two years after the ABCC (from the start of 1997 to the end of 1998) he was a member of the British Society Trust. He also headed the Chain Gang luncheon club for as long as anybody can remember.

A happy and useful life in retirement then followed but in the summer of 2015 the spinal injuries from a staircase fall left him completely paralysed – a disability bravely born until this month. According to his close friend Michael Smith, they enjoyed the Tokyo Olympics together so that Malcolm Hunter was clearly full of life until a week before its end.

Apart from Silvia, his devoted wife since 1960, he leaves four children – Cecilia, Alfred, Martin and Silvina – 12 grandchildren and five great-granddaughters.

related news
Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys, who first entered the Buenos Aires Herald in 1983, held various editorial posts at the newspaper from 1990 and was the lead writer of the publication’s editorials from 1987 until 2017.


More in (in spanish)