Rob Williamson, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, has received an OBE for voluntary and charitable services in the New Year’s Honours 2024.
The Honour recognises Rob’s 30-year involvement with the charity sector, where he began working in the early 1990s in a York centre for homeless people. Since 2009, he has led the Community Foundation, the largest charity of its type in the UK. In that time, the Foundation’s endowment – made up of gifts from individual, family and institutional donors – has doubled in value, and it has exceeded £165m in total grant-making. Recently Rob oversaw the Foundation’s responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and efforts to support those most affected by the rising cost-of-living.
As well as his role at the Community Foundation, Rob serves as Chair of the BBC’s Appeals Advisory Committee which advises on allocation of charity appeals on Radio 4 and BBC Lifeline and major broadcast fundraising by Children in Need, Comic Relief, St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Disasters Emergency Committee. He is also a trustee of Access, the Foundation for Social Investment, which seeks to ensure that charities and social enterprises can access the finance they need to sustain or grow their impact. Rob was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne & Wear in 2021.
“I’m genuinely humbled to be recognised with this Honour. It’s my huge privilege to lead the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland which, through the generosity of our donors, and brilliance of our grantees, makes such a difference to our area’s people and places. The charity sector and the philanthropy which supports it are a vital part of life in the UK, and I’m fortunate to have had opportunities to play a part regionally and nationally, and to learn from peers and mentors in roles with the BBC, Access Foundation and others. My only wish is that I could replicate the recognition, most especially to the team and trustees at the Community Foundation. It is their passion and skill which makes everything we do possible.”
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Rob spent six years as Director of Policy and Communications at Northern Rock Foundation, then the UK’s largest corporate donor. Previously he held roles working on charity funding for Newcastle Council and in urban regeneration. His other voluntary positions have included serving on the board of network body UK Community Foundations and as a trustee of several charities in North East England.