Name: Robert Morris
Rotary Club: Golders Green (District 1130 London)
Profession: Structural Engineer
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How and when did you first become involved with Rotary?
I have been an active part of the Rotary family since becoming a founder member of a Rotaract club in north-west London in 1980. Moving on from Rotaract, and as if to prove that one can join Rotary at any age, I was invited into the Golders Green club by someone I had known from school. So I got married to Ros, another Rotaractor, and joined Rotary within a few weeks of each other.
What does it mean to be Chair of the Board?
At a personal level, it is a great honour to lead the Association as the new governance structure enters month 13 and on. Like others on the Rotary GB&I Board, I am a working Rotarian and keen to show that while also working is a challenge, it is not a hinderance, to taking on Rotary leadership roles at any level.
The Chair and two successors work as a three-year continuum, enabling long-term planning to be seen through. Governance of the Association and supporting all of our members is a collegiate duty for the whole Board. The Board focuses on strategic direction for Rotary in this Region, while overseeing the operational delivery provided by the combined work of the Specialist Advisor Teams (SATs) and the Support Centre staff, to the Clusters, districts and clubs.
However, even working strategically there are many day-to-day matters to be considered and managed by the Chair. The Chair also needs to be outwardfacing, working with existing and potential strategic partner organisations.
What do you hope to achieve over the coming 12 months?
Building on the solid foundations laid thanks to inaugural Chair Garth’s efforts, we need to see through several projects developed by the Board’s workstreams.
We’ve secured in principle RI Pilot funding for capital projects that support achieving our membership growth challenge of 60,000 by 2028.
These projects need to be actioned; such as to enhance our member experience, ease the joining process to clubs and directly and widen the routes to membership. I want to see through ‘Incorporation of the Association’, which the Annual Business Meeting approved; as there are various benefits that can be progressed once that is in place.
Similarly, the review of our Support Centre premises needs to have been carried out and reached its recommendations. Enhancing the member experience has already seen a membership survey, which is currently being analysed.
The findings need to be actioned and progressed in the coming months for all our benefit.
What has been your most memorable Rotary moment?
Running a food concession, with Rotaract, at Live Aid 1985 was particularly special and, yes, we did get to hear some of the greatest bands ever on that iconic day. 10% of the takings came to us for charity and a cheque for over £1,100 was personally handed to Bob Geldof (who then left it in his jeans in the washing machine).
More recently, it was while cycling with RAG-Diabetes (the Rotary Action Group for Diabetes), from the Rotary International HQ in the Windy City to Space City for the Houston Convention.
You can read Robert’s column from the latest Rotary magazine here.