A MOTORING enthusiast has been named the first non-German member of the BMW board and is now urging youngsters to follow their dreams.
Dr Ian Robertson, who was born in Oswestry, is delighted to have been welcomed into the tight-knit BMW fold where he is now a member of the board of management.
No stranger to high-ranking positions, the 56-year-old was formerly the CEO of Rolls Royce Motor Cars Limited before moving to the German motoring giant as global head of sales and marketing.
Now a long way from home his roots still lie in the Shropshire market town.
His mother, Winifred, was born in Oswestry and a number of family members still live there.
Ian said: “Oswestry was a great railway town, a divisional base of the Great Western Railway, so all of the railways in the North West used to come into Oswestry because all the repair sheds and everything were there.
“My mother’s father worked for 48 years as an engine driver and my father, Gordon, worked as a boiler maker.
“We lived in a flat above Joe Boffey’s butcher’s shop (in Beatrice Street) and my mother worked in R&R Hughes (The Cross), which was a ladies’ dress shop.
“I also remember visiting the Smithfield Cattle Market on a Saturday morning.”
The family later moved closer to Wrexham and Ian attended primary school in Rhostyllen but he would regularly visit relatives in Oswestry during school holidays.
“I still have firm ties there,” he said.
“Indeed, when my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she moved back to Oswestry, into an apartment which was built on the site of the hospital where I was born.
“And her funeral was in the St Oswald’s Parish Church, where she was married and I was Christened.”
Ian’s ambition as a child was to become a train driver after spending time in the Oswestry yards and “on the footplate with my grandfather between Oswestry and Gobowen”.
“In those days of course I had no concept of global business,” he added.
He admitted he had always liked cars but felt drawn to the sea as a teenager and considered joining the oil industry, taking on a Marine Studies degree, but later decided he didn’t want to spend his life on a rig.
When asked where his ambition came from he mentioned his uncle, Arthur Morris, an Oswestry entrepreneur who ran Ellesmere Timber Company
“For several summers I worked in his saw mills which were a tough environment to say the least.
“But part of my entrepreneurialism came from him, definitely.
“I think that experience woke quite a few ambitions in me, it gave me ideas regarding some things that I wanted to do.”
And he gave sound advice to any Oswestry youngsters who also have their sights set on big things.
“Never limit yourself by where you’re from, only limit yourself by where your future lies.
“In essence, there is no limit, you can do whatever you want.
“I’d also say don’t let your head rule your heart because at the end of the day you won’t be happy.”