​The Guiding, Safe Hands of ICorr

The role of trustees in the Institute of Corrosion is crucial. In fact, without its trustees the Institute could not function effectively as a charity. As you’ll learn in this article, our trustees hold many responsibilities.

What is a trustee?

Charity trustees are the people who share ultimate responsibility for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run.  They are responsible for safeguarding the assets of the charity. These might, for example, be cash and property. They also include intangible assets such as the charity’s reputation and proprietary information.

In larger charities, trustees may not take a hands-on role. Our trustees are very much involved in the day-to-day running of the Institute of Corrosion. They help to shape our work and our strategic direction.

Since the Institute is also a company registered with Companies House our trustees are also the Directors of the company and act as the Executive Management Committee. By default, this requires our trustees to be knowledgeable about the world of corrosion as well as possessing a broad skills base. Often, we draw our trustees from industry, private consultancy, or academia.

Our trustees have a duty to advance the purpose of the Institute

The duties of trustees are laid out as legal responsibilities by Charity Law as:

  1. To ensure the charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
  2. To comply with the charity’s governing document and the law
  3. To act in the charity’s best interests
  4. To manage the charity’s resources responsibly
  5. To act with reasonable care and skill
  6. To ensure the charity is accountable

The first of these duties is always the primary focus of a trustee. All else flows from this ‘public benefit requirement’.

All trustees should be familiar with their duties, and to aid them in this they are required to  read and understand the Charity Commission guidance titled The Essential Trustee.

Our trustees support our decision-making

One of the ways in which our trustees enable the Institute to function successfully is by supporting the President in the decision-making processes, especially when there are urgent decisions to be made. Thus, trustees need to have a broad base of skills and experience.

The decisions in which our trustees offer their advice, expertise, and support include:

  • Audits and standards
  • Branch requests
  • Co-operation with other Institutes and government bodies/agencies
  • Council meeting and AGM agendas
  • Growth and sustainability
  • ICorr brand management
  • Accounts/reviews
  • Long-term investments
  • Overseas member support
  • HR issues
  • Strategy development
  • Training courses/certification in UK and overseas
  • Website issues and database improvements

Trustees have specific financial and reporting duties and responsibilities

Another of the key duties of our trustees is to ensure that our finances and accounts remain in good order. This duty is also set out in law under the Companies Act 2006. To comply with this, the trustees must prepare financial statements for each financial year. These must give a true and fair view of the finances of the Institute of Corrosion for the year for which the statement is prepared.

In the preparation of these financial statements, the trustees are responsible for:

  • Selecting and applying suitable accounting policies
  • Making reasonable and prudent judgements and estimates
  • Preparing financial statements on a going concern basis

In addition to the financial statements, the trustees also publish an annual report under the direction of the President of the Institute. This report should detail matters that include:

  • Aims and objectives
  • Organisational structure
  • Achievements and performance
  • Funding sources
  • Investment policy
  • Risk management
  • Forward strategy

The report will also detail any collaboration with third parties; recruitment, appointment, training, and responsibilities of trustees; membership and membership services; and members of the management committee. It will also discuss governing documents, future training provision, and sustainability.

Selecting and training our trustees

As you can see, our trustees have a lot on their plate. The work they do is extremely varied and can be complex. It is also ongoing. It also requires continuity. Therefore, we select our trustees for a minimum of six years. This is a significant commitment for a trustee to make to a role that does not provide financial reward.

So, how does the Institute select its trustees?

First, when a trustee position becomes available, we identify the skills needed to maintain the skills mix required by the trustees as a group.

Having established this baseline, we may advertise the role by notification in the Corrosion Management magazine, and on our website.

We may also approach individuals who we believe to possess the skillset we seek.

Often, a new trustee will be familiar with how the Institute works. They are likely to have experience within a local or regional branch, division, or committee. After appointment, the new trustee will be given a brief familiarisation session by the President. This session will cover:

  • Plans and objectives of the Institute
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Institute
  • Obligations of trustees in law and as members of the management committee
  • The current financial position as set out in the latest published accounts

Hard work, commitment, and no pay. Why become a trustee?

While being a trustee is not a full-time role, it does require a commitment of time and dedication. Our trustees meet regularly and form part of the management structure of the Institute. But, though not paid, our trustees receive rewards in other ways.

A trustee of the Institute of Corrosion plays an integral role in the smooth operation of the Institute, shaping our future and the direction of our industry. They grow their networks, increase their personal skills base, and have the satisfaction of knowing they have made a real contribution to positive change in the field in which they are most passionate.

Ask any of our trustees if this volunteer role is rewarding, and the answer will be yes.

The current trustees of the Institute of Corrosion

We currently have five trustees. Each is a director of the Institute of Corrosion. They meet monthly as a ‘committee’, reporting back to the Council and overseeing the routine operation of the Institute between Council meetings.

At the time of writing, our trustees are:

  • The President – Stephen Tate (Appointed 2020)
  • The Vice President – Dr. Yunnan Gao (appointed 2022)
  • The Immediate Past President – Dr Bill Hedges (Appointed 2019)
  • The Honorary Secretary – Dr Jane Lomas (Appointed 2011)
  • The Honorary Treasurer – Dr Tony Collins (Appointed 1993)

In the future, we plan to publish further articles about how the Institute of Corrosion is structured and how it operates. This transparency should help all our members and the wider corrosion community to have a greater understanding of all the moving parts of the Institute and the tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. If you’re interested in getting involved in any of these activities, please get in touch with us!

In the meantime, to learn more about membership of the Institute of Corrosion, please check out our membership page to learn how to become a member and immediately begin to enjoy the many benefits of membership of the Institute of Corrosion.