Kicking us off for Trustee Week 2021, we sit down with our new Chair of the Board, Tiggy Robinson, to find out how she went from Corporate Partner to Trustee, and what it means for her to have taken on the responsibility of Chair.
How did you first hear about Jessie May?
I first heard about Jessie May in 2019 when we were looking for a Charity of the Year at Nine Feet Tall, and a couple of my colleagues were given the task of looking into some charities that they thought might be suitable. Jessie May made it to that list, and then we had a company day where we were presented with the options to shortlist, and Jessie May again made that list. Then the lovely Lindsey Horton (Corporate Partnerships Officer) came and presented to us, which was a very emotional day. She had a massive impact on the choice we made – and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after that! The message of Jessie May and the purpose of the charity is incredibly hard-hitting and so we immediately said yes, there was no debate about it.
What attracted you to become a Jessie May Trustee?
I actually got in touch with Linda (the previous Chair) while we were a corporate supporter to find out if there was any other way that I could personally support Jessie May, because I wanted to contribute further in some way. I discussed becoming a Trustee with Linda, as she felt my experience as a consultant, helping organisations to define and deliver their strategy and programmes could be a useful skill set to bring to the Board.
From this initial conversation I was lucky enough to get invited to be involved in some strategy work that was being undertaken at that time and during this I had the opportunity to work closely with Chris (CEO) and Linda, running one of the Board meetings. At this point I felt that I definitely wanted to get involved and Linda put me forward as a Trustee and my nomination was accepted in September 2020.
What was it like for you joining Jessie May in the midst of a Pandemic?
I finally met everybody for the first time in person mid-July 2021. It was lovely, but a long time coming. But joining in the pandemic means I’ve missed out on a lot of the in-person events that trustees would usually be able to experience, like attending the Tree of Light service or being able to go to the Family Christmas Party and speak with some of the families we support. So, I’ve had to make a bigger effort to get to know the organisation inside-out, and to keep on top of what’s happening throughout every department. But it’s been lovely to meet everyone, even virtually, and put the faces to names, as you really do become integrated as part of the Jessie May family by doing so.
How does your professional/personal experience inform your work as a Jessie May Trustee?
Professionally, I’m a partner at Nine Feet Tall which is a Management Consultancy based in Bath, and we help organisations to implement change programmes. So, in terms of bringing that experience to the Board, I’m used to working with Board members and executive teams, exploring strategy, thinking about how we can improve performance and get the best out of teams. A lot of the work I do is within the non-profit sector as well, which Linda felt would be valuable to the Board and I hope it is.
On a personal level, I’m a mum myself. I have 3 children. My oldest son has a diagnosis of Autism and Dyspraxia, which I can completely appreciate is not a life-limiting condition, but in itself has been a challenge. Our experience of trying to access certain services to provide additional support means that I feel that I have some sort of understanding of the challenges that presents for our parents. A service like Jessie May is so vital, not just for the physical support but also for the emotional and mental support that as a parent or carer you really crave, and when you have that access it can make a colossal difference to your own life as well as to your child’s. So, I felt a level of personal connection based on my own experiences of finding support for my own family.
What does it mean to you to be named Chair of the Board of Trustees this year?
For me, I’m absolutely humbled to be able to lead the Board. They’re such a talented group of people with such a lot of knowledge to share and a real heart for the work that Jessie May does. I feel very much that it’s a collective effort between the Trustees and the Senior Management Team. I want to be a huge support to the Senior Managers and the wider Jessie May team to support the work that’s being done – the pressure that they all experience is significant, and throughout the pandemic that has been felt even more.
My being named Chair of the Board first came about through conversations I’d had with Linda and Chris. Linda had previously been a Trustee for 8 years, for 3 of which she was the Chair. She had been thinking about when the right time for a change might be. Through the work we did together on the strategy, we started discussing what was required from the role of Chair and to me the key bit about chairing is about being able to facilitate discussion across the Board and to help to support the Senior Management Team at Jessie May to be able to do their absolute best.
My aim is to provide the best contribution I can. My tenure as Chair started in September and so far it’s been going really well. I hope that I can continue taking the great work our Board does forward for hopefully many years to come – it’s a very exciting time here at Jessie May and I’m proud to have been given this honour.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role as a Jessie May Trustee?
I think there’s just such a clear message and almost a universal appreciation for the work that the charity does, with children’s health being amongst the top priorities for many people who want to support a charity. That’s so rewarding for me, because every time I have a conversation with someone, they want to get involved. For example, a friend of mine I spoke to has openly said that if there’s ever an opening for another Trustee on the Board he wants to be the first to know! That’s a true testament to the reputation Jessie May has and I feel so lucky to have this role within the organisation.
I think the other thing is being able to hear and see some of the stories that actually showcase the incredible work undertaken by our Jessie May nurses. It’s so grounding for me as a human being to hear these stories, as it just reminds you of what’s truly important – family. I know first-hand that this is what really drives us as a Board to do our utmost to support the whole team, from the Care side to Fundraising and Admin, to ensure that we can provide as much support as possible.
What would you say to other people who are considering becoming a Jessie May Trustee?
Firstly, it is hugely rewarding. Being able to give your time to a charity that is doing incredibly valuable work and makes a real difference to people’s lives. I’ve spoken to a few people over the last year, and they’ve said to me ‘it’s changed my life having the Jessie May support’.
It’s also a fantastic development opportunity, being able to work with an organisation that you may not have had the chance to work with under normal circumstances. Working with the charity sector exposes you to new areas, for instance the Governance and Clinical aspect, and if you’ve never been involved in anything like that before it’s quite a steep learning curve, but one that’s really valuable.
You’re also able to work alongside likeminded people, but who all have differing skills that they can bring to the table. For example, here at Jessie May we have clinical based Trustees and business-focussed Trustees, but we also have representatives of the parents who actually have first-hand experience of receiving Jessie May support. It’s a very mixed Board and you get to learn a lot from everyone.
Most importantly it really is fun! I’ve worked with the Board but also with different teams across Jessie May looking at how we innovate moving forward, especially in our Fundraising and Events capacity.
It’s a fantastic way for anyone to be able to expand their volunteering experience and for personal development, but what I would say is that you need to make a proper commitment to it because the work is just so important. I would say the more you put in the more you get out.
What is Trustee Week 2021?
Trustee Week is an annual event that takes place at the beginning of November to showcase the vital role that Trustees play in our charity. Volunteering their time and working together to make a real difference to the children and families we support.
Find out about our whole Board of Trustees by heading over to their page on our website: www.jessiemay.org.uk/about-us/board-of-trustees