New Chair of Trustees

Rob Douglas CBEWe are pleased to announce that after a robust recruitment and selection process Rob Douglas CBE has joined us at The Makaton Charity as our new Chair of Trustees.

Rob comes with a personal understanding and experience of the Makaton language programme, together with a highly successful background in senior executive management; and over 20 years’ experience as a non-executive within the education, regional development and charity sectors.

Rob now combines being a business consultant with wide experience as a non-executive director in the public and voluntary sectors. Rob’s consultancy is primarily in the area of senior executive relationship development and coaching.

Rob is currently Trustee and Chair of the Grants Committee of the Walton on Thames Charity; Trustee of the National Association of Almshouses and is currently a Deputy Lieutenant  for Surrey. His past roles have included, Chairman of the UK Space Agency, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People and Chair of the Surrey Learning and Skills Council.

Stephen Hall, Chief Executive of the Makaton Charity said, “We are delighted to confirm Rob Douglas appointment as our new Chair of Trustees. Rob brings to the Charity both a personal knowledge of the use of the Makaton Language programme, together with a wealth of corporate management and chair experience which will be critical in helping us to develop our vision of doubling the number of Makaton users, while creating a closer membership relationship with our wider User base.”

Rob Douglas said "I am delighted and honoured to be joining Makaton as the new Chair. The role caught my eye initially because my grandson had learnt and used Makaton for the first three years of his life. He had a tracheotomy and could not speak.  My wife and I both learnt enough at the time to be able to understand him.

“I was impressed with a system that allowed him to communicate effectively and to keep up with his peers. That triggered my interest to learn more. I have been excited from my conversations with staff and trustees by the vision and strategic plan that the charity is now pursuing, and I am very much looking forward to being a part of it."


Prior to his consultancy and non-executive roles, Rob was a senior executive with Royal Dutch Shell where he held a number of senior executive positions, including Area Co-ordinator, China and East Asia; Chief Executive, Shell Belgium; Chief Executive, Shell Italy; and Vice President for Mergers and Acquisitions in the Global Exploration and Development Business. Rob had initially joined Shell from the Inland Revenue and had held a number of senior tax posts, including Shell UK Tax Manager, and Head of International Taxation, based in the Hague.

Rob’s non-executive roles have included:

  • Chair of the Surrey Learning and Skills Council from 2000 to 2007 and a member and Chair of the Audit Committee of the LSC South East Regional Council until 2010
  • Chairman of the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) from 2009 – 2012 and a Deputy Chairman from 2001 – 2007
  • Member of various advisory boards at BIS (Dept of Business, Innovation & Skills) and its predecessor bodies, DTI and BERR (2004 -10
  • Chairman, Iceni Oil & Gas (2007)
  • Board Member and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (2008 - 2013)
  • Chairman of the UK Space Agency Steering Board (2011 - 2015)
  • Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People 2011 - 2017;
  • Trustee and Chair of the Grants Committee of The Walton on Thames Charity (2011 to date)
  • Trustee of the National Association of Almshouses (2016 to date)
  • Chair of The Makaton Charity (2019 to date)

Rob comes from Newcastle upon Tyne and was educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh and Churchill College, Cambridge. He is married to Hilary and they have two adult sons.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2005 Birthday Honours. He was High Sheriff of the County of Surrey for 2010-11 and is a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) for Surrey (2012 to date). He published his first (and probably only!) novel “Redemption” in August 2019.

7th January 2020

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