Roger French has announced his intention to retire at the end of March next year after 30 years at the driving wheel of the Brighton and Hove Bus Company and involvement in a host of partnerships that have made the city what it is today.
Apart from his day job of running the most successful bus company in the UK, Roger is extremely active in many areas of public life. He chairs the city’s Local Strategic Partnership, the Brighton and Hove Business Forum, the Hove Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and the Trustees of the Martlets Hospice. He is also a very active founder member of the city’s Economic Partnership, the Transport Partnership and the Hove Business Association’s Management Committee and is a Trustee of the Argus newspaper’s charity, the Argus Appeal.
His altruism has not gone unnoticed and he was awarded an OBE for services to public transport in 2005, an Honorary MA by the University of Brighton in 2007 and he became a Deputy Lord Lieutenant for East Sussex in the same year.
In 1999 he was awarded Businessman of the Year in the Sussex Business Awards, in 2006 he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Sussex at the Argus Achievement Awards, in 2009 it was the Community and Stakeholder Management Award at the Passenger Transport Management Awards and in 2011 his contribution to the bus industry was recognised by the prestigious Services to the Bus Industry Award at the UK Bus Awards. He has also seen the Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company win a plethora of accolades over the last 20 years reflecting its extraordinary success in increasing passenger numbers and satisfaction ratings.
Roger said. "After 30 years of being involved in running buses in Brighton and Hove, I have decided it's now time to relax and enjoy my retirement. Of course, I shall miss working with all my fantastic colleagues in the bus company in Brighton and Hove as well as the many friends and colleagues I’ve worked with over the years”.
"I’ve been very lucky to work with such a great bunch of people in a fantastic part of the country for so long and will always be grateful to everyone for the help and encouragement they have given me”
David Brown, Group Chief Executive for Go-Ahead said, "Roger has inspired his team to deliver a high quality service to passengers and has spent much of his career developing successful partnerships with the local authority and other key stakeholders – partnerships which are rightly hailed as a beacon for others to emulate."
"We will miss Roger, his extensive experience and unique approach immensely. He can retire safe in the knowledge that he will leave behind him a legacy of excellence which will be recognised for many years to come, not just in Brighton and Hove but across the wider bus industry."
In June 2010 Roger published Pride and Joy – my amazing 25 year journey with Brighton and Hove Buses. The book helped to raise around £30,000 for two local charities including the Martlets Hospice, a charity close to Roger’s heart.
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No one can say that Roger has not paid his dues and has earned his retirement and I am sure every member of the Economic Partnership and indeed the wider business community, will wish him well but they also will miss his expertise terribly.
And that isn’t just his nationally recognised expertise in transport issues which is second to none; you don’t build up the best bus service in the UK employing over 1000 people without knowing a thing or two about team building and partnership working and without developing consummate business skills which he has always been willing to apply to the greater good of the city. His ready willingness to give his time and his talent to “other causes” never ceases to amaze.
On a voluntary basis Roger chairs/leads one of the most successful Strategic Partnerships in the UK. This is the overarching body that gets the public, private, voluntary and community sectors of the city around the same table to agree and publish the city’s community strategy. It takes a skill few people possess to meld together such different factions into a successful partnership but, together with his able lieutenant Simon Newell, he has managed it.
He has been an active member of a host of business groups with the accent on “active”; involvement for him has always meant rolling his sleeves up. On the day his retirement was announced he was facilitating a discussion on the city’s economy with 130 people at an Economic Partnership event and the night before he was compering the awards at the Hove Business Association At Your Service Awards. Almost certainly in the same week there would have been Martlets’ Trustees meetings or a Chamber meeting or an Argus Appeal meeting.
He is a man of remarkable integrity, endeavour and achievement; we will not see his like again. The city salutes him.
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