Robert Winsor MBE is not embarrassed by money. He has made plenty in his time both in business, and in recent times for children’s charities here in Mallorca.
Winsor is a salesman pure and simple, but he uses those selling skills nowadays to raise large amounts of money for disadvantaged youngsters and he is unapologetic about the ways and means he uses and the methods he brings to bear on his fund raising activities. He takes the robust view that making money for charity has to be run like a business, and business techniques have to be applied.
I have interviewed Winsor before and so I have the advantage of familiarity, but perhaps the disadvantage of flawed objectivity. Robert Cane Winsor is a unique mix of single mindedness and bonhomie, of genuine concern and cold eyed opportunity, of social responsibility and personal ego.
Let me first rewind to his last Charity Golf Tournament, the 9th and last he says he will organise for his beloved charity. He has said that this year is the last year that he will do it, however when I spent some time with him recently he was starting to back-off the finality of that position. Winsor you see had psyched himself up mentally and in no small measure physically to reach that holy grail figure of 2 million euros raised by his own efforts over the years here on the island. I can tell you he is irritated beyond measure by the fact that he is 37,000 euros short of that target. As I said, to observe Winsor in charity mode is to watch a professional at the height of his power.
Nobody who has made the serious money he has earned has done it by being self-effacing and “ever so humble”, so I always cut Robert more than a little slack when it comes to bragging rights. To watch Robert Winsor working a room as I did at the Charity Golf Gala Dinner at the Casino, Sol de Mallorca, no-one would be left in any doubt that this man was on a mission. It was the first time I had attended this swank affair and Robert was in turbo-charged overdrive, a smile and a kiss here, a squeezed elbow there, a quick photo call with a celebrity and a local worthy in the crowded foyer to attend to, all exhausting to watch, and surely even more exhausting to endure. A snatched conversation with a distracted Robert is interrupted by a request by a important sponsor to meet some friends,- how does he do it, how does he keep it up? Some have said that -” he just wants to be feted, he loves the limelight”; I disagree with that very easy and cynical view. Sure he likes the attention, he likes the plaudits, but the man is on a mission, just watch him, it’s almost messianic in its intensity.
I hope Robert takes some time out to relax after his last monumental charitable effort, because I thought he looked very tired, and he told me that the stress of the event had made the remnants of psoriasis that he has suffered from on occasions before reappear on his hand, so much so that he couldn’t take part in his own Golf Tournament for the first time.
When I was commissioned to write about Robert and his charitable works here on Mallorca. It would have been easy I guess, to pen a bland peon of praise to the man whose has been honored by HM Queen Elizabeth, and importantly to him, by Calvia Council, as their European Citizen of the Year for 2007.
The truth is Robert Winsor is much more interesting than that. Whatever he may say the man is no team player, it’s just him and his totally trusted partner Maria who put it all together, and at the end of it all distribute the money raised in the form of “useful things” that local caring institutions need, rather than handing over lumps of money to bodies and facilitators that he perhaps views with a worldly-wise element of suspicion. Maybe as some would say, he’s a control freak, but it’s Robert and no-one else but Robert, who nags and cajoles the celebrities to give up their time to come to the island and help him make serious money for Mallorcan children’s charities. If he didn’t do it they wouldn’t come, and ergo the same amount of money wouldn’t be made.
I have spent some time talking to Winsor on a number of occasions now, and for this article I have tried not to turn his work into a mere catalogue of sponsors, celebrities and charitable targets achieved. Why is that? I think it’s to do with Robert himself, the fact is with Robert it’s not what he say’s that is interesting, it’s what he doesn’t say that is so intriguing. Example -Do you think that here in Mallorca we are in danger of creating charity overkill?-“Perhaps so, but I really don’t want to go there” – Example – Why are you giving up Robert, surely, it will be difficult weaning yourself off the buzz of it all? “It’s very difficult going to the same “well” time after time and perhaps it’s time to draw it to a close.”
I still have this vision in my minds-eye of Winsor at the top table at his own charity function, straining every sinew trying to squeeze every last Euro out of a passively, well upholstered audience who have got the money that our hero want’s for his passion, his life, his baby. “Who will give me 15,000 euros for this unique piece of jewellery” he intones, all eyes shift towards the latest tentatively raised hand –”it’s your’s sir”-and a look of triumph crosses his face. A done deal Robert, a done deal for the charity and those kids. You really can’t keep a good man down, so obsessed is he with the 37,000 euro shortfall to his target of 2 million he is toying with the idea of a last hurrah next year, a one day affair, just for fun you understand!
I venture a last question at a quiet and subdued Winsor–Would you have done anything different Robert? A slow knowing smile emerges from his alert and watchful eyes and then the rest of his creased features light up into an almost boyish grin-“That Frank, is a very good question indeed, can I think about it?”- Of course you can Robert Winsor MBE; just let me know when you’re ready.
More info about Robert Winsor’s charity organization: www.charity-golf.com