#TrusteesWeek Lorna Virgo’s story

Trustees’ Week is an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.

 

Being a trustee involves taking on significant responsibilities and time commitments and the role is almost always unpaid

 

Trustees Week is a fantastic opportunity to thank your trustees for the work that they do.

As part of this, we’re giving organisations the chance to have a governance health check, and catching up with Trustees themselves to tell their story.

 

This is Lorna’s story why she’s a Trustee

Tell us a bit about yourself and where you are a trustee.
My name is Lorna and I moved to Wales in 2003.  I live in Griffithstown, Pontypool with my husband and two boys (and a very boisterous puppy!). I’m a finance director by day and have worked across various sectors during my career, starting as a dreaded audited with PwC!  I have a couple of trustee roles – I am on the Board for the Cwmbran Trust and I am the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Torfaen Leisure Trust.  The Cwmbran Trust provides financial gifts to those in need who live in the NP44 area (https://www.cwmbrantrust.co.uk/) and Torfaen Leisure Trust is a charitable organisation that aims to improve the wellbeing of Torfaen residents through provision of leisure facilities and a diverse range of sporting, wellbeing and social activities.  I am also Co-Chair on the Committee that runs the Griffithstown Coronavirus Community Support Group.  The Group was set up in March 2020 in response to the pandemic and original lockdown restrictions.  We are a group of volunteers that support our residents, primarily now through a food bank that is housed in Panteg House in Griffithstown.

Tell us about your role as a trustee and how you support the various organisations
My roles as a trustee and committee member are really varied.  As a member of the Board for TLT our job is to provide strategic oversight, appropriate challenge, and support to the CEO.  We tend to meet 5 times per year and are there to shape the overall direction of the organisation.  We receive operational reports about how the business is performing, but our job is not to get involved in the day to day.  This information is however useful to make sure our strategic decisions are well informed.  We would approve any key decisions within the organisation, for example, capital expenditure, approve the budgets for the business and the staffing structure.  The role of chair is a little more involved as I spend more time with the CEO outside of meetings, have overall responsibility for the Board and governance of the charity.  The CEO and I typically meet up once a month to discuss how the business is fairing and have various calls in between meetings.  We will discuss the content of Board meetings, check on updates to strategic objectives and anything else that is needed!

How long have you been a trustee and why did you decide to become one?
I joined TLT in 2016 and up until then I had never really thought about being on a board.  I had thought they were full of retired, super rich people (mostly men) looking for ways to fill their days (!).  But in 2016, I was working for an amazing organization called Chwarae Teg which is Wales leading gender equality charity.  It was here that I really started to understand the importance of having a diverse range of voices and viewpoints in business and at board level and that it was your experience, skill, passion and commitment that makes a good board director, not just the fact that you have lots of time to spare!  I was keen to develop my own skills at the board level as I was responsible for reporting into the Board of Chwarae Teg so thought it would be beneficial to see it from the other side of the table!

What would you say to people thinking of becoming a trustee?
Do it! There are so many brilliant organisations looking for board members – you do not have to necessarily give up significant amounts of your time, and you do not have to know absolutely everything about running a business.  Assess your own skills and experiences and look for positions that match.  For me it is important that you find an organisation that aligns with your values, that you are excited about.  Do not be afraid to look for roles that help strengthen your CV or career aspirations – being a trustee is about giving back, but that does not mean you cannot grow and develop from the experience as well!

By Patrick Downes

Comms Lead - Third Sector Development TVA