As a professional advocate, Richard is keen to encourage and promote public speaking and debate in all its forms. Here, he tells us a little about himself:
When did you first hear about the ESU?
When I was considering what to do between school and university, my headmaster mentioned the ESU’s Secondary School Exchange to me. I applied and spent six months at a school in Indianapolis in 1981, living with a family whose sons attended the same school. I was able to choose the subjects I studied, enjoyed running for the school, singing in the choir, taking part in the school play (albeit somewhat typecast in the role of an English professor), and being invited to speak to various local groups about England. I took the opportunity thereafter to travel extensively throughout the US (largely on Greyhound buses) and was so fortunate to be given hospitality by many ESU contacts, from San Francisco to New York. I was of course struck then by the size of the country, but also by the apparent freedom and opportunity to pursue one’s aspirations without constraints based, for example, on class. I was really shocked, however, by the divisions based on wealth and on race, both of which remain evident today. Not a month has gone by in the last 40 years when I have not thought of my time in the US. The US perspective is often not understood in the UK, and there is some truth in the saying that we can be divided by a common language.
Why did you want to become a trustee?
I wanted to help, so far as I am able, to ensure that future generations continue to have the opportunities I have had; indeed, in the light of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on education, there is now an even greater need for all of the ESU’s educational programmes.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Eating bacon and eggs, and watching a past episode of Rumpole of the Bailey.
Whom do you admire and why?
Anyone who tries to make a positive contribution.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
A happy family – and managing to sing a top C in the Pirates of Penzance (aged 11)!
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Perseverance, and that ‘Quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot’ (W.S. Gilbert, librettist and barrister).