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News > Announcements > Obituaries > In Memoriam: Sam Noble (88-93)

In Memoriam: Sam Noble (88-93)

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Sam Noble (88-93), who we sadly lost in 2022.
6 Oct 2022
Written by Robin Knight

Sam Noble (88-93) died in early August after a five-year battle with cancer during which he endured 99 sessions of chemotherapy. He left a wife Kate, and two children Charlie and Grace. He was 47.

Sam arrived at Pangbourne from Caldicott Prep School in the Winter term 1988. He had won a full scholarship and joined Hesperus Division, already knew his own mind, graduated to the Upper Sixth form and won the College’s History prize in 1993.

He was also Vice Captain in the near-unbeaten 1993 1st XV, playing at hooker. According to Gerry Pike: “Noble was the first forward to every loose ball, he of the high-pitched battle cry, who disappeared into every ruck as if committing ritual hari-kari. After the first few games we learned not to worry about this apparent urge for martyrdom as Sam always emerged muttering, but intact, from the bottom of every heap of tangled bodies.”

What differentiated Sam, even at this early age, was his “commitment and enthusiasm…the ultimate team mate…the life and soul of the group” according to his lifelong friend Tim Spencer (88-93) – attributes that would carry him far in later life. “He really was the very best of our year - such a tragedy," recalled another contemporary Michael Keigwin (86-93) after his death.

From Pangbourne, Sam went on to the University of Nottingham to read History & English. He represented the university at rugby, enjoyed student life to the full and also worked hard; his dissertation gained a distinction and is still held in the university library. After a short spell post-university in Cape Town, he settled in London and took a job with The Marketing Partnership before moving to IMP (an experimental marketing agency) in 1997.

In 1999 he became one of the founders of Iris (a breakaway company from IMP). Today Iris is a large global integrated marketing agency specializing in brand and digital marketing strategy and global advertising. Sam’s role at Iris changed over the years with its international expansion, taking him from joint MD of the London agency to global chief strategy officer in 2013 and deputy global CEO in 2016. Yet whatever he did he never lost his admiration for his colleagues.

For most of his life Sam’s motivating dynamic, according to Tim Spencer, was always about ‘What Next?’ Personal challenges included hiking long distances, cycling, ski-ing and toughest of all taking part in the Marathon des Sables in 2015; this involved undertaking seven marathons in six days in the Sahara Desert. Not long after, following nine months of doctors’ appointments, he was given the dreadful diagnosis of Stage IV Bowel Cancer with a two-year life span prognosis.

From the beginning of this ultimate challenge Team Noble tried to approach the situation with determination and a positive mindset. One thing Sam did was to branch out and publish two anthologies of poetry – Still Life and Planting Trees – in order to raise funds for Children with Cancer UK. Sadly, he had to retire from Iris in 2017, aged 42. Yet to the end he continued to invest in, and advise, “a careful selection of fast-growth businesses in the UK and abroad dedicated to making the world a better place.” These included and  In late-July 2022 he went in to hospital for the final time.

After Sam died, Claire Humphris, chief executive and co-founder of Iris London with Sam, wrote: "Sam leaves a huge hole in the Iris family. We called him The Sage for good reason. His fierce intelligence, coupled with unshakeable integrity and talent for words, meant he was an enlightened and inspirational leader. He always spoke about legacy… what he left behind for others was his driving force. He was immensely proud of what he had achieved with Iris and for good reason. We were just so lucky that he chose to be with us for as long as he could. His ideas and impact will continue for many years to come." Iris has marked Sam’s contribution by establishing an internal award to celebrate breakthrough thinking. It is called The Noble Prize.

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