The Master oversees the Company’s activities, as well as representing us at a variety of charity, trade, ceremonial and social events. He or she’s usually a long-serving Tallow Chandler.
Each Master serves for one year. The Master’s election has to take place on or within twenty days of the Feast of St. John the Baptist, reflecting our ancient links with the Brotherhood of St John. We usually hold the election on the first Tuesday in July.
Richard is married to Mary and they have two children, Sara and Peter. They live in Ebbesbourne Wake, a village in the Chalke Valley to the west of Salisbury.
Richard was born in 1949 and educated at Marlborough College and Southampton University, where he obtained a law degree. He joined City solicitors, Herbert Smith, as an articled clerk in 1970, becoming a partner in 1980. His career at Herbert Smith was varied – initially a commercial litigator, he established the firm’s anti-trust practice before broadening his practice further to include mergers and acquisitions. He led the internationalisation of the Firm and was responsible for managing the practice between 2000 and 2005. In 2009, he retired from the partnership. He remains a consultant with the firm.
Alongside his career at Herbert Smith, Richard has been actively involved with the accountancy profession. He became a member of the Auditing Practices Committee in 1986 and its successor body – the Auditing Practices Board. He then became a member, and then a director, of the Financial Reporting Council. Whilst with the FRC, he was Chairman of the Auditing Practices Board, of the Conduct Committee and of the Financial Reporting Review Panel. He is currently the Deputy Chairman of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, the body responsible for setting ethical standards for accountants globally.
Richard played squash competitively, representing British Universities, Sussex and England. He has sailed from a very early age, winning world and national championships in International Fourteen and Swallow classes. During the 1980s he campaigned ocean racers, ‘Summer Wine’. He now sails a Quarter Tonner out of Cowes.
It was a love of sailing that brought Richard and Mary together. Mary was born and brought up on the west coast of Canada, where she spent many summers sailing. She came to the UK in 1971 to study art. She specialised in textile design. Mary began sailing with Richard on the first ‘Summer Wine’, and they married in 1983. After two Admirals Cup campaigns, two One Ton Cup campaigns and a Sardinia Cup campaign, they had two children – Sara, an equine vet, and Peter, a safari guide and conservationist, who has also trained a team of sled dogs to run the Yukon Quest (a 1000 mile race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse) and rowed the Atlantic. Richard and Mary have maintained their connections with the West Coast through a house on Salt Spring Island, between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
Richard’s parents were both in the Royal Navy. His father, Peter, was involved in North Atlantic convoys and the sinking of the Scharnhorst. His mother, Fiona, was a member of the WRNS. On leaving the Navy, Peter Fleck had a successful career in the food manufacturing sector through Alfred Bird & Sons, Shippams and Spillers. He became a member of the Livery of the Tallow Chandlers’ Company in 1967. After his death at the age of 51 in 1975, the Company invited Richard to become a Freeman in 1976 and then a member of the Livery in 1980. His mother, Fiona, is an active 90 year old. Richard has a sister, Sara, and a brother, Andrew, who is headmaster of Sedbergh School in Cumbria.
Richard’s other outside interests include children’s activities (he was chairman of the Notting Hill Adventure Playground and then the London Adventure Playground Association) and education (he has been actively involved with Marlborough College as a governor and trustee and in the establishment of Marlborough College Malaysia). He is currently the Chairman of the Holburne Museum in Bath, the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting in England and Wales (a charity) and a member of the Council of Salisbury Cathedral.
In 2009, Richard was appointed a CBE for services to law and business.
Richard is delighted to have been elected Master and he and Mary look forward to representing the Company in the coming year.