Robert Alston was born in 1938, brought up in Sussex, educated at Ardingly College and New College Oxford, and did National Service with the Royal Sussex Regiment.
From 1961 to 1998 he was a member of the Diplomatic Service. The Middle East (as a Persian speaker) and defence, security and proliferation issues were the principal themes of his career. He served overseas in Afghanistan, France, Iran, Belgium (in the British Delegation to NATO), Oman (as ambassador from 1986-90), and New Zealand (as High Commissioner also accredited to Samoa and as Governor of the Pitcairn Islands from 1994-98); also in Belfast on secondment to the Northern Ireland Office.
Since retiring from the Diplomatic Service he has been involved with education (as Chairman of the Council of Ardingly College from 2005-10 and Chairman of the Governing Body of the Marsh Academy New Romney fro 2007-13); the Church (on the staff of Archbishop George Carey from 1999-2002; the Commonwealth Institute and its successor the Commonwealth Education Trust; the Pilgrims, where he serves as a member of the Executive Committee; and the County of Kent as a Kent Ambassador and a Deputy Lieutenant from 2007-13.
He became a Freeman of the World Traders (on the firm recommendation of Past Master Peter Gadsden) in 2000, and progressed through the Company to the Mastership in 2007-8. For him highlights of his year were the Sheep Drive across London Bridge in aid of the Lord Mayor's charities (the brainchild of his wife Pat, also a Liveryman of the Company), and leading a delegation of World Traders to accompany Lord Mayor David Lewis on his official visit to Oman.