My friend Robert Leader, who has died aged 66, was a leader by name and by nature. For 13 years he was chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-service personnel, and led the organisation through significant change and growth, which boosted its ability to help and support ex-servicemen and women with severe sight loss. Standing 6ft 7in tall, Robert was a larger than life figure, and a true gentleman who won the respect and admiration of those around him with his warmth, courtesy and charm.
Robert was born in Sheffield, the oldest of four children of Betty (nee Brownson) and Robert Leader. His father was a vicar. After boarding at Uppingham school in Rutland, he qualified in furniture production and management at High Wycombe College of Technology (now Buckinghamshire New University), and worked for Parker Knoll, before moving into banking and then the public and voluntary sectors, where he spent most of his career. His many roles included managing a residential home for the Leonard Cheshire Foundation in Staunton Harold, Leicestershire, which later moved to Netherseal, Derbyshire, and heading the health service for British Forces Germany, based in Rheindahlen near Düsseldorf, a post he held for four years.