Trevor took on the Performing Rights Society - and won

DAVID SAFFER meets a man who juggles law, music and charity work

TREVOR Lyttleton has made his mark across a wide spectrum of genres and society.

An esteemed lawyer and composer, Trevor is also founder and chairman of Contact the Elderly.

Set up in 1965, the charity tackles acute loneliness among older people by organising free monthly Sunday tea parties.

Around 450 groups across the United Kingdom support almost 3,600 elderly people, aged 75 and above, through a network of more than 5,700 volunteers.

Trevor attended a Downing Street party at this year's Jubilee celebrations on behalf of his charity.

His attendance though is not surprising if you analyse the Lyttleton family background.

Trevor's Polish-born great-grandfather, David Lubelski, was one of the first Jewish immigrants to arrive in Leeds. And he led a remarkable life.

Setting up a tailoring business in 1873, David campaigned against corruption and the exploitation of workers. Awarded a silver tea service by employees nine days after Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, a silver teapot is Contact the Elderly's emblem.

Regarding his grandfather's work, Trevor only discovered transcripts recently.

"It was an extraordinary thing to expose corruption and courageous as he was risking his livelihood," he said.

Helping others is clearly a family trait.

Trevor's father, George Lyttleton OBE, who altered the family name from Lubelski in 1923, founded Jewish day schools in Leeds and London.

And his Israeli-born wife, Zippi, a linguistics graduate, is education vice-chairman at West London Synagogue and author of Colloquial Hebrew in the Routledge colloquial series.

Trevor's great aunt, Ann Rachlin MBE, founded the Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children and Fun With Music. And his first cousin, Thelma Ruby, is an acclaimed actress.

Regarding the family name change made by his father, Trevor explained: "It was not very popular to have a Bolshevistic sounding name as a commercial traveller in Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham."

Born in 1936, Trevor has fond memories of growing up in Yorkshire.

"It was a very close Jewish community," he said. "When the war ended, we had fireworks at a bonfire party on VE Day."

Trevor recalled a comical aspect to the communal event when his father erected an effigy of Hitler with a toilet seat around his head.

However, his father went on to make a long-lasting impact as an educational visionary, which started after he was taken seriously ill in his mid-50s.

"For a few days he was fighting for his life and I remember ringing Dayan Joseph Apfel, who was a great friend of the family, to pray for him," he recalled.

"My father changed his name to Chaim after recovering and devoted the rest of his life to founding Jewish day schools.

"He gave up business to give something back and remarkably lived another 30 years until the age of 86."

Trevor's parents moved to London and lived close to Marble Arch Synagogue.

"When my father died, the present Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, held his hand which was some measure of the esteem in which he was held," he recalled.

At Cambridge, Trevor qualified as a lawyer.

Starting out in Freshfields' corporate division in the late 1950s, by 1969, he was in-house counsel for Radio Rentals where a three-month sponsored spell at Harvard Business School sparked his music career.

Returning as a consultant to London copyright specialists Rubinstein Callingham Polden & Gale, Trevor had success with a Eurovision Song Contest semi-finalist tune - The Time has Come.

"My family were artistic, but also commercial," he recalled.

"I had two strands in me, which was a great dilemma. Should I go into business or the arts?

"At Freshfields, I was learning more and more about less and less so I eventually joined Jewish law firm Rubenstein's, which specialised in music."

The move was a perfect fit as Trevor acted for clients including rock giants Emerson, Lake and Palmer and, focusing on light instrumental music for radio and television, he built up a catalogue of 300 recorded titles.

He was the first western composer/producer to have a recording agreement with China Records in Beijing, taking 50 of his compositions to a huge audience.

Trevor dovetailed the two industries as he understood the legal and practical implications of international music royalty collection.

A campaigner for the rights of fellow composers and copyright owners, he consistently challenged one of the most secretive professional monopolies in the world - the Performing Rights Society.

Trevor helped reform the PRS, making it more accountable to its membership and achieved the ultimate accolade when voted on to its 24-member council.

The PRS annually collects and distributes £150 million royalties for musicians in the UK.

Trevor's achievements were noted in the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's Report on the PRS in 1996.

Inspired initially by the work of Mozart, the music industry has and is still a huge part of Trevor's life.

Although not the first lawyer with music in a Broadway show (Cole Porter and Arthur Schwartz hold that accolade), Trevor in 1981 shared with Hello Dolly composer Jerry Herman, a Grammy nomination for I Love a Film Cliché in the Broadway hit musical A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine.

"Mozart was my first inspiration but I've been very fortunate to bring my work to the public," he said.

In terms of his charitable work, Trevor never foresaw that 47 years on from founding Contact The Elderly, he would be chairman of a charity playing a significant social role to an increasingly lonely segment of society.

"The charity is a simple, but hugely effective act of friendship provided entirely by volunteer hosts, drivers and passenger helpers," he noted.

"We have a large number of community based groups and Leeds has extended the hand of friendship to isolated people in Yorkshire for more than a quarter of a century."

So which aspect of his life is Trevor most proud - the law, music or charitable work.

"It's very difficult to balance all three," he said.

"Sometimes I think I'd have been more effective concentrating on one area, but it's been a very rich tapestry and I'm very grateful to have had these wonderful opportunities."

Contact the Elderly reaches its own golden jubilee in three years.

"I want to reach out to more elderly people around the country," he said. "It's essential to get more 16-year-olds involved in volunteering and I want to establish more intergenerational contact.

"10 Downing Street is very keen. I've discussed it with Prime Minister David Cameron and he is very keen to get more people into intergenerational activities.

"All help from powerful politicians is appreciated.

"Tony Blair was the first to recognise volunteering in a big way, although we started with John Major and Gordon Brown also played a vital part."

Trevor added: "We are non-political and appreciate that kind of patronage and help. I want to go on making a difference, making society more cohesive and reaching out to people who are left alone."

© 2012 Jewish Telegraph