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The Master

The Master

The Master for 2013/2014, the 447th recorded, is Mr Ian Robertson

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.

Ian, born in 1946, lives in Weybridge, Surrey with Penny. They have two sons, Alastair, with daughter-in-law Heather and grandson Rory, and Edward, both Liverymen. His father, Donald, was Master of the Horners Company and his mother Aileen, born of the Living family, a Freeman of the Tallow Chandlers. Ian was pressed into joining the Company by his uncle, Leslie Living, joining his two cousins Bernard and Graeme, his holiday play mate in their younger years.

School was at Grenham House in Birchington and then Sherborne, where Ian was Head of School, Dorset senior 440 champion and 2 years in the Ist XV. He continued his rugby at Racing Club in Paris, then London Scottish and Eastern Counties.

After school, he worked in a factory in Germany for 4 months, before joining Clifford Turner in Paris for another 4 months, leaving 11 years later after 6 years in London and 5 in Paris.

Married in 1970, he went to Paris with Penny and Alastair in 1973 to be joined by Edward in 1974. The family returned to England in 1977, when Ian joined Singer Sewing Machine Company as its European Counsel, responsible for legal affairs across 17 countries

Ian moved to Heron International, as their international lawyer, then corporate finance director and group company secretary.  Over 10 years, he completed financings and bond issues, and ran the group’s debt restructuring team.  He negotiated various company acquisitions and disposals and property deals in the UK, US and Europe.

In 1993 Ian joined BET Plc as corporate administration director responsible for pensions, risk management and insurance, property and the company secretariat, reorganising each department to match the demands of the group. He was president of BET’s French road haulage subsidiary, reorganising its operating structure. When Rentokil made its contested bid for BET, Ian ran the defence professional team.

Ian joined Arcadian International Hotels in 1996, refinancing the Malmaison chain of hotels, forming a successful joint-venture with the Conran Group to finance the acquisition and redevelopment of the Great Eastern Hotel in London and defending their takeover.

In 1999, Ian joined the BBC as director of property to reorganise its property operations and begin the BBC’s three major 21st century developments – new offices at White City, new headquarters for BBC Scotland and New Broadcasting House in London’s West End.

After the BBC, Ian joined Partnerships UK to negotiate the £800m Paddington health campus and hospital complex, With his partner in Scotland he built a managed business space centre, in Glasgow, which opened in February, 2009. He then ran the Dolphin Square Foundation, £100m a charity providing affordable homes in Westminster. Previously a board member of Central & Cecil Housing Trust, he remains a trustee of their pension scheme and property development adviser, continuing his work in affordable housing, bringing private sector funding for affordable homes development schemes.

Penny was born and lived her childhood in Esher. She trained and worked as an occupational therapist, until she joined ATV as a PA, later becoming a sales executive with Westwood TV. Her Father, Philip Preston was Master of the Leathersellers and her brother, nephews and a niece are members. Penny plays a mean hand of bridge, while Ian, to her frustration, is falling behind.

Ian’s interests are golf, often with Penny, music, gardening, fishing, boating of all kinds and the South Hams, where they are able to enjoy, to the full, all of these pastimes.

Ian is delighted to have been elected Master and looks forward to serving the Company in the coming year.