As a 6ft 7in former rugby player, Ben Rouse admits he had to get used to standing out in the crowd. That is one reason why he is unlikely to be fazed when he carries out his duties as the new High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, wearing the full regalia – tights, frills and all!
Ben, a successful Island businessman, will begin his 12-month term as High Sheriff on April 10th
, succeeding Robin Courage, and is relishing the prospect of stepping into a role that has become an integral part of British heritage. He said: “It is a great honour, and I want to be seen as someone who will be trying to help our community as much as possible in any way I can.”
Born in Bonchurch, the youngest of six children, Ben attended St Boniface Primary School, and then became a border at Ryde School. But there were spells in his younger life that were not easy, and that is why he has subsequently set his sights on helping as many Island people as possible, both in his profession as a Chartered Financial Planner, and during his High Sheriff term.
He explained: “I was 6ft tall at the age of 11, and went to school in short trousers, wearing a cap. How do you think that makes you feel? Do you think I’m worried about wearing the High Sheriff’s regalia? I was always picked out, and suffered a lot of verbal bullying. Eventually I got fed up with being bullied, and my channel out of it was to play rugby.
“I found a sport where size was an advantage; somewhere to let out physical aggression in a controlled environment, but with a huge amount of respect for other players and officials. That helped me develop as a person.
“I joined the Isle of Wight Rugby Club, and loved it. After a game against Havant, I was asked to join them, and spent 11 seasons there. At one point we were in the top 30 teams in the UK.
I later coached at Vectis Rugby Club for 12 years, and was chairman for seven years.”
Ben also has a passion for motorcycles, which proved an advantage shortly after he left school. He said: “Because I messed up my A Levels, I got on my motorcycle, went up to London and became a despatch rider. I fell in love with motorbikes when I was 16, and going Newport, Benedict’s, in 1986.
“But after a few years I knew it wasn’t going to be a career for me, so I eventually went down the financial services route to help people plan ahead; making the best use of your resources to keep a business moving forward.”
After a short spell in Salisbury, Ben set up Rouse & Co in 1992, which became Rouse Limited in 1999. He now has a highly qualified team of around 20.
He smiled: “If nothing else, becoming Chartered proved to me I could
have taken my A Levels and gone to university after all. It shows if you find something that interests you, and you are enthusiastic about it, then you can do it.”
Married to Lia, Ben has two children and three step-children, and says: “I still ride a motorbike, and my three boys also ride bikes, so we often go off on trips in the UK and Europe, and I ride up to London for business meetings. But I’m not sure I will be attending functions as High Sheriff on a motorbike; I don’t think that would be appropriate!”