|Posted on:||Wednesday, 25th September, 2019|
In May, we welcomed a new Chair of Trustees, Robert McCorquodale. Robert is a Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Nottingham and also works as a barrister. Passionate about tackling injustice, he has provided advice and training to governments, companies and other organisations around the world on human rights issues. He is married with three children in their 20s and worships at St Paul’s Church in Cambridge.
What first attracted to you to get involved with CBM?
From a very young age, I was really aware of how precious sight is. Aged maybe 3 or 4, one of my eyes was very weak due to astigmatism, which meant I had to wear a patch for a couple of years. So from early on, I was conscious of the importance of eye-health and how blessed I was to live in a place - – we lived in Australia at that time where I could get the right treatment..
Then in my professional life, as an international human rights lawyer often working in developing countries, I saw people with physical and mental disabilities repeatedly struggling with access, not seen as having potential and often ignored or just left in the corner. Even when dealing with systemic changes, like drafting constitutions, I’d see tokenistic involvement of those with disabilities but they wouldn’t be truly included. So CBM’s work, both on sight and more broadly on disability inclusion, was really attractive to me.
What have been your main impressions so far? Has anything surprised you?
The first thing that has really struck me is the extraordinary impact CBM is having on lives around the world in so many ways. It’s not just the range and scope of projects that impressed me, but the huge transformation for individuals and families.
Hearing about Salomé, a grandmother from Rwanda who had cataracts, made a huge impression on me. CBM followed her story just around the time I became Chair. She’d been sight impaired for years, unable to see or care for her grandchildren, visit neighbours or go to church. Then, during our Trustee meeting, we had a call from Rwanda to say she’d had cataract surgery at our partner hospital and she could see clearly! It was an emotional moment and really brought home to me what our work is all about.
One thing that’s surprised me is that there are so few organisations focussing on disability generally, rather than just one specific type.So CBM’s expertise and decades of experience is really important.
What are your main priorities as Chair?
One of my main priorities is to support the Chief Executive – Kirsty Smith – and her team. As trustees, we’re not here to make the daily decisions but rather to support, challenge and assist. In this first year, I’ll also be focussing on getting to know my fellow trustees, their skills and interests, so that we can serve CBMUK better.
It’s not an easy time for charities – although our supporters are fantastically loyal - as generally people in the UK are giving less. So our main aim is simply to make sure that CBM UK has everything in place – the right programmes, funding, structure and governance – to make the biggest possible difference for people with disabilities and communities at-risk around the world, not just now but for the years to come.
The CBM UK Board of Trustees is a group of volunteers who are responsible for CBM UK’s overall performance, providing strategic direction and leadership. Read more about all of our trustees at https://www.cbmuk.org.uk/who-we-are/our-people/trustees/