Life
Peter Taylor-Whiffen 9 Nov 2018 03:30pm

A little fine tuning

David McBride’s varied career has taken him from calculating numbers to singing them, he tells Peter Taylor-Whiffen, all in the pursuit of creating opportunity

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Caption: Photography by Richard Ansett
With career highlights that include bringing together 600 international musicians for a TV concert celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; staging a piece of theatre featuring judges from the British, US and New Zealand Supreme Courts to mark 800 years since Magna Carta; and singing with MPs and Lords in Notre Dame Cathedral, David McBride says: “It’s not what I expected when I did that first bookkeeping course.”

But it has all stemmed from being an accountant. “It’s such a versatile qualification,” he says. “It gives you knowledge, skills and an openness of mind to go into any sector at all.” McBride is a self-employed management consultant but is so immersed in not-for-profit work that calling the latter “extra-curricular” is a misnomer.

“I just like to be busy,” he says. He’s certainly that. Having executive produced the Commonwealth Carnival of Music at Westminster Hall in 2012, he’s adviser to Lord Roberts of Llandudno; is a member of ICAEW’s Council; is currently organising a string of events marking Berlioz’s 150th anniversary; and is a trustee and (literally) vocal member of the Parliament Choir, made up of politicians, peers and staff from the two Houses.

“It’s wonderful,” says the 58-yearold. “About 20% are MPs and Lords, but it’s open to everyone from politicians to kitchen staff. You immerse yourself in the music and the outside world just stops.” The choir performs regularly in Westminster but has sung at the Royal Albert Hall, Notre Dame and earlier this year in the RAF church, St Clement Danes in The Strand, to mark the force’s centenary. In October they performed Mozart’s Mass in C Minor in London to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War – alongside the Bundestag Choir. “It’s important to mark these events and learn from what has gone before,” says McBride, who lives with his son in west London.

“The Commonwealth Carnival and Magna Carta performance both celebrated democracy.” Investing in the future is a theme of McBride’s career. The Carnival charity, which he still chairs, gives bursaries to help Commonwealth musicians study in the UK. Berlioz 150 hopes to form Britain’s largest ever children’s choir – and will give music lesson resources to UK schools with no music teaching provision.

He’s a fiercely keen advocate of ICAEW’s apprenticeship and social mobility programmes to make the profession open to everyone. Even in his consultancy work, he mainly supports start-ups. “There is so much talent out there that remains undiscovered because there’s no opportunity to show it,” says McBride, whose own accountancy life began at BDO Stoy Hayward and included Country Gardens plc (now Wyevale) and the Chartered Quality Institute. “Everyone, whatever their background, should have the same opportunities. I try to do what I can to help make that happen.”