In keeping with a 500-year old tradition, the Society of Merchant Venturers (SMV) has announced the appointment of a new Master who will hold office for the year ahead. Ross Ancell, a member of SMV since 2009, intends to move forward the Society’s work across five key areas: Education; Charitable Giving; Care for Older People; Stewardship of the Clifton and Durdham Downs; and Social Enterprise.
Ross is a graduate of the University of Waikato and a qualified Chartered Accountant. His early career was spent working in the New Zealand agriculture industry. In 1978 he moved to the UK, where he specialised in agricultural development, waste management, quarrying and construction.
In 1996, Ross led a management buy-in of the Bristol-based Churngold Group, growing its activities in construction, recycling, remediation and property. As Chairman, Ross continues to lead the Churngold portfolio of companies.
He also has a number of charitable interests, including the Churngold Environmental Fund, which is a major fund-holder with Quartet Community Foundation, supporting environment and community projects and charities in the Greater Bristol area.
Ross has been particularly active in the Society’s work in Education over the past ten years, taking on leadership roles within the governing board of both Merchants’ Academy and Venturers Trust. During his year as Master, Ross sees Education as a priority where opportunities must be expanded and challenges embraced. For example, several of the Society’s primary schools are located in areas of high deprivation with an above average number of students with English as an additional language and it is vital that these schools receive the right support to help all pupils flourish.
In Charitable Giving, Ross will focus on a more joined-up approach to ensure that the Society’s contribution has a long-term positive impact within communities. Care for Older People will also be in the spotlight this coming year as SMV explores development opportunities to increase the support currently offered. The Downs Committee remains focused on delivering a cost-neutral management strategy and in Social Enterprise, the Society will continue to assist Bristol & Bath Regional Capital, while separately driving forward a series of other collaborative initiatives.
“The Society’s mission is to help communities across Greater Bristol to thrive,” said Ross. “In order to deliver an ambitious strategy across our five main areas of focus, it is essential that we work closely with others across the City and continue to collaborate effectively. As well as our 74 members, there are many individuals and organisations that support our philanthropic work within the region and it is their commitment and expertise that enables us to make such a positive impact in so many ways.”
The annual appointment of the Society’s new Master always takes place on Charter Day which commemorates the granting of the Royal Charter by Edward VI in 1552, endorsed by Charles I in 1639. Charter Day takes place on 10th November, or on the closest Monday after the 10th if the 10th falls on a weekend. Following a service held in the Cathedral, the Master, together with two Wardens, twelve Assistants and the Treasurer, is sworn in at Merchants’ Hall.