Thank you LARAC Lee!

So here we are, it’s the final week of Lee Marshall being ‘LARAC Lee’

Lee has been our CEO and the face of LARAC since 2014, during which time there have been numerous changes here at LARAC, culminating in us becoming a limited company earlier this year, and all aimed at making the absolute most of the income we make to serve our members.

Some changes have been less obvious, I think every office management system has been updated, but more publicly he has tirelessly ensured we have a much higher profile within our industry, which is probably why he’s known by many as LARAC Lee. It is largely through his hard work that we now regularly feature at meetings with Defra, which is invaluable for two-way communications of our members issues.

Up until Covid hit us, Lee was all to often getting up at 5am two or three times a week to get to early morning meetings in London or around the country. He assiduously sought out the cheapest train routes, meaning his car was regularly parked in obscure Welsh railway stations when he’d found a good, cheap route. He has told me that, when pitching up, bleary-eyed at a London railway station in the evening to get back home to Wales, he has had to look at his ticket to remember which station he was heading back to in order to retrieve his car for the inevitable hour-long drive home.

Long before he was our CEO Lee was on our Executive committee from April 2002 until February 2012. He was our Chair on two occasions, in 2005 for a year and then from April 2006 until January 2009. I was lucky enough to be working for LARAC way back then, and he was always affable, easy going, but definitely ‘on it’, and ceaselessly blowing the LARAC trumpet.

But, what perhaps most will remember him for is his presence at our Conferences, until recent years always in the company of ‘the scarf’. Along with being the CEO he was also our Conference organiser (working closely with EMG and the LARAC Conference Liaison group). He was ‘on duty’ all year, helping the create the conference we demanded, and then ‘on duty’ through all three days of every conference, from the Scholars arriving the day before until the final address on day two – oh yes, and tweeting incessantly. A great presenter of awards, Lee was always ready with an off-the-cuff comment and able to surf the rising excitement in the room as he guided us through the winners, and we headed towards the disco, where, after finally being able to have a glass or two, he regularly made quite an appearance!

On the other side, LARAC has given him some great opportunities; he has occasionally mixed in lofty company, but it’s never gone to his head! George Clooney, co-starred with him at one awards ceremony (funnily enough I can’t find a picture of this) and a certain Mr Pickles turned up briefly . …

All in all, he is quite a guy, with curiously large feet, (well they must be big, he’s left us with huge boots to fill). We will miss him greatly, and personally, I've really enjoyed working with him. CIWM are lucky to have him, and it will definitely take us a while to forgive them for enticing him away from us, but we'll work through it. 

Anyhow – from the whole Exec, and on behalf of all our members I’d like to say: Good Luck Lee, and thank you, we are grateful to have had you involved with LARAC for so long, we’ve benefitted greatly from you being part of LARAC, and we wish you all the best for the future.