Mary-Beth Patterson’s winning essay

© Earlston High School

Fifteen-year-old Mary-Beth nominated Andrew Hind, the former chief executive of the Charity Commission for membership of the House of Lords in the Lord Speaker’s competition: ‘The Peer Factor: Who Would You Put in the House of Lords and Why?’

Mary-Beth Patterson, Earlston High School, Berwickshire:

My Peer Factor Nomination

Choosing a member of the House of Lords is a very difficult process. There are many people in Britain who deserve this prestigious honour and the only way to choose between them is to set criteria that each individual must meet.

I think that a member of the House of Lords is someone who has contributed in a selfless way to society, not just in Britain but throughout the world. They must have used their skills, qualifications and experience to try and make a difference. The person that I would want to appoint is someone who has given up their time, money and energy to promote fairness and even out the inequalities of society.

After taking all of the above into consideration I have come to the conclusion that the person I wish to nominate for a peerage is Andrew Hind. However before detailing my reasons, it is useful to consider what is the purpose of the House of Lords.

Background to the House of Lords

The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK parliament. It has 736 nonelected members who come from many different backgrounds. Its main job is to “double check” any new proposed laws to make sure they are fair and in keeping with British values. The House of Lords can only veto any bill three times before it is made law.

Lords are not elected but appointed either by the current Queen following a recommendation from the Prime Minister or a nomination by members of the House of Lords. Once elected, Lords are members for life which means they have the independence to speak their minds and do not have to face the repercussions of re-election.

Many Lords are “hereditary peers” and their lordship has been passed down by family. Many people disagree with this system of hereditary peer-ship and do not think that hereditary peers have any right to a say in the running of the country, feeling they are appointed by blood rather than achievement.

However, we are where we are!

What qualities should a Lord have?

Anybody can be nominated for a peerage in the House of Lords as long as they are over 21 years of age and are a citizen of the UK, any Commonwealth country, or Ireland. They also must be a resident in the UK for tax purposes.

Being nominated for a peerage is highly prestigious and those nominated must have a record of significant achievement, experience and skill. They must be seen to be able to contribute to the House of Lords not only in their field of particular expertise but also in the many different issues that members come across every day.

Peers must also be able to demonstrate good leadership skills as well as independence and integrity. They must also be able to empathise with members of society and decide what is best for those they represent. Peers must also be independent of any political party and must always feel confident to speak their mind.

Therefore I think that Andrew Hind would make an excellent Lord and would give tremendous service to his country.

Andrew Hind

Andrew Hind is one of the most philanthropic and charity orientated people in today’s society. He was born in Portsmouth in 1955 from a humble background. His father studied at night school to be an engineer and his grandfather was Bob Blyth manger of Portsmouth football team. Blyth gained fame when Portsmouth FC won the FA cup in 1939 and during the Blitz he protected the cup by hiding it under his bed!

Hind received a scholarship to Portsmouth grammar school which he described as “a shock to the system” and was seen as a place for “toffs”. His football background did him little good as the school was primarily rugby orientated but he kept up his passion for running which he loved. Hind left school and went to study accountancy at Southampton University.

In 1979, Hind qualified from Southampton as a full certified accountant. Unlike his peers who jetted off to Hong Kong and London for lucrative jobs, Hind decided to go to Kenya. When asked why he first decided all those years ago to go to Kenya his answer was that it had something to do with “not wanting to use my financial qualification in a conventional way,” and “a feeling that I could make a difference in black Africa”.

During his time there he encountered many people living in squalor and absolute poverty. On his return he decided to begin work in the charity sector and was appointed finance director, even though he was very young and relatively inexperienced with a post at Action Aid and Barnardos.

In 1988 he co-founded the Charity Finance Directors Group and today it has over 1,000 members and the responsibility of £10 billion of charity money per annum. In 1995, Hind published his first book “The Governance and management of charities”.

By 1995, Hind had worked in the charity sector for 10 years and decided to work in another part of the “not-for-profit” world – as finance director with BBC world service. This provided him with a fresh new challenge but he still kept up major involvement with the charity sector as a trustee with charities such as VSO and UNICEF.

In 2004 Hind took the job as the first ever Chief Executive to the Charity Commission. His job was to regulate the charities and make sure that all registered charities kept to the charity law. Hind stated that his aim was to “make an active contribution to help charities do a better job and build on the role they have in society”.

In 2008, Andrew Hind received the outstanding achievement award for longstanding commitment and service to the voluntary sector at the charity awards. In 2010, Hind left the Charity Commission.

Hind now lives in High Barnet, North London with his wife and three kids. In 2011 he became the guest editor of Charity Finance and is taking on the role permanently in March. He has also taken up a part time role as visiting professor of Charity Governance and Finance at Cass Business School. He was then awarded the prestigious Companion of the order of Bath in the New Year’s Honours list 2011.

Why I think Andrew Hind should be in the House of Lords

I think that Andrew Hind is an excellent nomination for the House of Lords. He is a natural leader and is able to take charge and has life long experience in senior positions in charity organisations. He has already shown that he is a philanthropist and his goal is to create a change in society for the better, not just in Britain but in the wider world.

His commitment to his charity work is phenomenal and he has based his whole life round helping others. He always said that his reason behind his work is completely non political and his work and commitment to charity has nothing to do with either politics or religion. As Hind himself stated ‘the sight of masses of desperately poor and destitute Ethiopian refugees thronging through the streets of Hargeisa made such a lasting impression on me that it forced me to question my purpose as an accountant’ Hind goes on to say that ‘having seen at first hand that aid agencies really do convert donations to activity on the ground and make a difference. I wanted to be part of that’. Hind realised that he could use his accountancy qualifications to a much better use than just auditing banks. So Hind dedicated the rest of his career to the charity sector.

Hind does not publically declare his charity work but works quietly in the background hoping to make a small difference. I feel he could offer something different to the House of Lords and come up with fresh ideas to make an even better society in Britain and more importantly in the third world. I think that his life time work should be recognised especially his contribution to making charities more resourceful and efficient.

I think Andrew Hind is exactly the type of person that the House of Lords needs and I think he would be an extremely valuable asset. He knows his own mind and is not afraid to stand up for what he believes but I think his biggest quality is that he does not just “talk the talk” he also “walks the walk”. Therefore, my nomination as a peer is Andrew Hind.

Image: Earlston High School

The 'Peer Factor' winning entries

Find out about the other winners of 'The Peer Factor' competition:

Class 8 Alpha

The team of 12 and 13 year olds nominated their form teacher Mrs Restivo for her kindness, for working hard and always being there if they need her.

Anna Mammedova

Anna Mammedova nominated Welsh Refugee Council caseworker Keith Ross, an inspiring, active citizen, with tested skills scrutinising the government’s work and making its policies work for vulnerable people.