Page 331 - Week 01 - Thursday, 12 February 2015

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A geologist by profession, philanthropist in his spare time, as well as a finance and education expert, Bert Roberts had his fingers in many pies. He was also incredibly involved in local community organisations, one of these being the Rotary Club of Canberra East, of which Bert served on the board as vocational services director between 1973 and 1974, community services director from 1974 to 1975, club service director from 1976 to 1977 and president from 1977 to 1978. He also served as serjeant-at-arms for a number of years and was named a Paul Harris fellow in 1983, one of the most prestigious awards in Rotary.

Bert was also well known throughout the education sector. He served as a board member and also vice-chairman at Canberra Girls Grammar School from 1979 to 2000, as deputy chairman of the Canberra Grammar Girls School Gabriel Foundation from 1981 to 2000, as chairman of the Gabriel Foundation investment committee from 1986 to 2000, as a trustee of the school staff superannuation from 1989 to 2000, and as a member of the ACT Schools Authority from 1980 to 1982. He was on the Schools Commission’s ACT planning and finance committee from 1982 to 1988 and the Birrigai outdoor school advisory committee from 1982 to 2005.

Bert was also heavily involved with the local business sector, being the president of the Chamber of Commerce from 1981 to 1982, treasurer of the CARD-Business Council from 1983 to 1984 and chairman of the ACT Block Grant Authority from 1990 to 1995.

In 2003 he was awarded with a centenary medal for services to business and education. These are just some of the many roles that Bert played in the education and business sector.

Another organisation which has benefited greatly from Bert’s hard work is the St John Ambulance Association. He was a member of the council of St John Ambulance ACT Association from 1984 to 2007, secretary and/or treasurer of the ACT branch from 1984 to 1986, chairman and member of the national executive from 1996 to 2002 and national treasurer from 2002 to 2007. He became a Commander in the Order of St John in 1999 and was later knighted in the order in 2005. He also held a St John service medal.

Bert gave so much to the community of Canberra through these organisations, but what is often less well known is that he was a big supporter of the Liberal Party and a very active party member. Bert played an instrumental role in forming the ACT division of the Liberal Party, and we are the beneficiaries of his hard work. He was treasurer of the party for several years, and in those days the treasurer did more than just keep the books. There were no paid staff in the division when Bert was treasurer, and it was up to him to raise the funds, pay the bills and make vital decisions about the finances of the party.

Bert set the party up for the future and was a treasurer, finance director and chief fundraising officer all rolled into one. I am told by some of the founding members that Bert was the quiet achiever, who rarely spoke at meetings, but when he did have something to say it was certainly worth its weight in gold and everybody paid attention.

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