I’m proud to serve my local theatre group in Derry as a voluntary non-exec director. I find it satisfying to convert some of my free time to serving the local community that Learning Pool is based in and I live in. It’s also a lot of fun. The photo above is of me with the Millennium Forum & Derry Theatre Trust’s wonderful and inspiring Chairman, Martin Bradley, & Ed Vaizey (Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries) – it was taken at the party thrown by the theatre the day after Derry’s success in bidding for UK City of Culture 2013 was announced.
I only wish I had enough free time to serve as a councillor but my working life is just too demanding right now – maybe later…
So what made me apply in the first place? My first three years living in Northern Ireland were spent working in one of Belfast’s busy high tech start-ups. Our customers were based predominantly in the Bay Area & Japan which led to a very long working day – start early to catch Japan before it went offline and stay late to welcome the Californians to their new working day. By the time the company was sold, I was close to burnout and wanted to be involved in a project that was enjoyable but also included an element of “putting something back”. I decided to join the theatre board because they were seeking someone with a commercial financial background. Seven years later I’m still on the board and the benefits I have enjoyed during that time have been many fold:
· I’ve met lots of interesting new people
· I’ve been able to satisfy some creative leanings in some small way
· I’ve helped the theatre flourish by working with the rest of the Board and the executive team to improve governance and financial management – the theatre’s creative direction didn’t need any help as the executive team have always had that side well covered
· I’ve been able to re-use some specialist experience and that was satisfying
· I’m proud that Derry is going to be the first UK City of Culture 2013 and glad that our theatre will be a key player in that.
My day job didn’t get any quieter. Indeed quite the opposite…it got busier. But I have no regrets about volunteering and figure I must have got better at managing my time.
If you don’t currently put something back, I urge you to have a rethink and consider what you could do for your community, however small. I promise you it will be fun.