Many of you will have met me or worked with me over the years. I joined BTA in March 1980, working in the distribution centre in Clapham, South London where we distributed millions of pieces of literature to all the BTA offices overseas, British Embassies and British Consulates. We used many methods of distribution including airfreight, by sea containers, rail freight and by road. We also used diplomatic bags for those very important shipments direct to the Ambassadors.
The distribution budget in 1981 was over £1m and as costs had to be cut (yes there were Government cuts in 1981) I spent a considerable time negotiating pricing with freight companies, which was very hard, as they seemed to run a cartel on pricing. One of the vessels we used to convey our material across the pond, the Atlantic Conveyor, was eventually sunk by the Argentine Airforce in the Falklands War in 1982.
In 1986 I moved across to our Head Office Finance Team based in Thames Tower, Hammersmith. Starting in the treasury department, I moved on to head up cashiering and banking in the early 1990s and took over the whole department as Head of Financial Accounting and Treasury in 2001.
In 2018 I retired from BTA after 38 years of employment. In my last year in finance, I had 10 members of staff reporting to me and an ever-increasing annual spend of £93m trading as VisitBritain and Visit England. We traded in 20 currencies, collected £18m in trade debtor receipts from our global partners and made thousands of payments to trade creditors worldwide. We also ran and reconciled 60-plus global bank accounts in multi currencies.
All this financial work helped me to understand the complex world of pension investments. I joined as an Employer-Nominated Trustee in 2010 and continued the role until retirement in late 2018. However, the members then voted for me to return as a Member-Nominated Trustee in 2019 and I gladly accepted, with my four-year term set to end in 2023.
The committee usually meets four times a year and we have conference calls to discuss urgent matters. Our work is sometimes quite technical and we receive advice from our legal, actuarial, administrative and investment advisers. The committee is a very solid body and will act having listened to that advice very carefully. I have completed the Pensions Regulator’s Trustee Toolkit, passing with eight commendations. I trust this puts me in good order to look after all the member funding and to further work for the good of all members, be they active, deferred or in receipt of a pension.
My outside interests revolve around my two daughters: a nearly 11-year-old and a nearly seven-year-old. You may know my wife Nancy who worked for ETB until 2010. If not, with Nancy and the girls, it is rugby, following England around the world, the annual five and six nations’ tournaments in Europe and every four years the British Lions Tours to Australia and South Africa, although I have not plucked up the courage to go to New Zealand yet! I also play golf but not as much as I would like. Travelling is also fun and we visit our families around the UK on a regular basis, supporting British tourism of course, but we do occasionally escape overseas as well.