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Birmingham in the UK. His early work was for Guinness and Irish Distillers. He married Deirdre in 1972; daughter Aoife was born in 1973 and son Mark in 1976. In 1977, working for Biocon, he moved his young family to Kentucky where, three years later in his mid-thirties, he founded Alltech. His mother, always a huge influence in his life, simply asked “What took you so long?” The business initially focused on using Pearse’s expertise in yeast


fermentation to create products for use in livestock nutrition. Very early on it adopted the ACE principle of having a positive impact on the Animal, the Consumer and the Environment. The company reflected the personality of its founder: a scientist with an acute business mind, a tireless traveller and an endless innovator. Over time, the product portfolio expanded to include not only yeast based products but also those based on enzyme technology, algae and nutrigenomics. Production facilities and Biotechnology Research Centres were added on several continents. Today the company’s interests include brewing, distilling and human health encompassing research into conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Other innovations also reflected Pearse’s boundless energy and enthusiasm. The Symposium, an annual gathering of customers and colleagues in Lexington, Kentucky, began in the 80s with fewer than 100 delegates; today attendance exceeds 4000 every year. The European Lecture Tours, in which a group of speakers, including Pearse, would tour various countries in Europe in what, for any other company would seem like an impossibly hectic schedule, became another annual fixture – later replicated to cover Asia. The Biotechnology Medal of Excellence and the Young Scientist Award were further ideas which reflected the passion Pearse felt for science and education. Other passions included music, particularly opera, for which he


founded a scholarship to encourage up and coming singers. Asked of his greatest regrets, he listed his relative lack of fluency in foreign languages and his inability to play a musical instrument. Interestingly, of his two children Mark is a gifted linguist and Aoife is a talented violin player. They are also both involved in Alltech (Mark as President and Aoife as Director of Educational Initiatives) and both educated to doctorate level; three Doctors amongst them notwithstanding, Pearse always claimed that his wife Deirdre was the smartest member of the family! Deirdre is Director of Corporate Image and Design and is responsible for the design of the company’s 80 offices around the world.


Asked about the achievements of which he was the proudest,


Pearse listed the hundreds of PhDs and Masters degrees gained by Alltech employees as a consequence of the research they were able to undertake with the company. He was proud both of his native Ireland and also of the people of the state he had adopted as home for his family and his business. He had a passion for charitable giving, but of the type which enabled


those whose circumstances were unfortunate to help themselves to improve their future outlook, rather than as passive recipients of aid. His response to the 2010 earthquake which devastated Haiti was to help create a sustainable coffee enterprise in the country with profits


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reinvested in education for its children. His company also sponsored the World Equestrian Games as well as The Royal Windsor Horse Show, an involvement which led to Pearse spending time with Her Majesty the Queen in the Royal Box at Windsor.


All smiles in the Royal Box at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2009, which was sponsored by Alltech. To Pearse’s right is his daughter Aoife.


On a personal note, two further recollections will help to illustrate


the kind of man he was. On one occasion, in the lead up to my parents visiting the facility in Kentucky to research for an article, unknown to them Pearse phoned me to ask about their taste in music. When they returned, Jane (who would write the piece) waxed lyrical about the beautiful Puccini arias which had been playing in the car which had picked them up from the airport. Such attention to detail from somebody at the head of such a large organization. Another time, some years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Pearse on the Sunday before one of the Symposiums. Anyone who attended one of these events may recall that, back then, every delegate was handed a hardback book, which included a full written version of each of the papers to be given. In a tradition, begun in the early days of the Symposium but which he continued for decades and even when the number of delegates had grown into the thousands, Pearse would add a personal handwritten message to each one. In the course of my interview, Pearse was sitting beside a huge pile of these books, each having a slip of paper in it on which was written the name of an individual delegate. While listening to my questions, and providing the most cogent of answers, he was simultaneously writing the dedication in each book. These were not banal, generic platitudes; each one was unique and usually made some personal reference to the individual concerned. And he was doing this literally at the same time as he was giving his answers. It was almost as if he had the ability to divide his brain in two and give both tasks his full attention at the same moment. Very few people make such an impact on the world as Pearse


Lyons did in his lifetime. The tragedy is that his death should come at what, these days, was such an early age when he had, in his own words, so much left to do. He truly was an extraordinary individual.


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