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Celebrating Trustees' Week: Gillian's Story

It's Trustees' Week! A chance to say THANK YOU to our wonderful, dedicated trustees who go above and beyond for our charity.

Trustees’ Week is a time for us to come together to celebrate the achievements of nearly one million trustees across the UK. Thank you for the time, commitment and effort you bring to your charities to help them thrive.

This year's theme: 'Many voices. Working together. With purpose.' celebrates the individual talents, viewpoints and experiences each trustee brings to their board and their collective decision making and how diversity can help make a charity stronger.

Here, we're shining a spotlight on Gillian's story!

How long have you been a trustee?

Hello, I’m Gillian and I have been a trustee with Sustainable Merton for sixteen years.

How did you get involved with Sustainable Merton?

In 2007, I had just retired from a busy job and was concerned about the environment. I was looking for somewhere positive to put my energy into. I went to a lecture on Climate Change and Sustainable Housing at Merton town hall and met in the audience, Tom Walsh and Mike Dees, who had together just started a new charity called Sustainable Merton

They were looking for trustees. Over a drink at a pub, they told me their aims and at one of the first meetings, not knowing where to start, we drew our first ‘strategy mind map’ on a sheet of paper. Ruth Baber was already on board as Secretary and had established a ‘constitution’. With the aid of the NCVO ( National Council for Voluntary Organisations) Trustee Handbook, we learned as we went.

In those days wine was drunk at meetings and that’s possibly why they tended to go on, and on, for up to four hours. Nowadays we keep strictly to two-hour meetings, six times a year, and the wine is kept for the end, with the happy spirit of comradeship in no way diminished.

What do you enjoy about being a trustee?

Over the years it has been wonderful to meet and work with so many highly motivated and knowledgeable people with the like-minded purpose of helping to improve our planet for future generations.

Although not directly a part of a trustee’s work, I also enjoyed contributing to many voluntary projects, especially that of bringing the Phipps Bridge allotments back to growing produce again. This took about 40 of us volunteers about two years of working three sessions a week. It was a fantastically satisfying community adventure with lots of laughs and picnics in all weathers.

What advice would you give to those thinking about becoming a trustee?

To anyone who is thinking about becoming a trustee, I would say that no previous experience is expected. You can learn as you go!

Gillian Leigh

Sustainable Merton Trustee

(One-time Membership Secretary)

(One-time Chair of Trustees)


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