Welcome to our March edition of Cedar Garden Sessions, where Hannah, our Brand & Web Marketing Officer, interviews members of the Penny Brohn UK team to find out more about them and the work they do behind the scenes to keep our services up and running.
This month, we are interviewing Nick Grimshaw (no, not that one), who has been at Penny Brohn for just a few months, as our interim Head of Partnership Fundraising, standing in whilst Sam is on her maternity leave.
Hi Nick! Thanks for joining me in the Cedar House. I don’t know about you but I am feeling very relieved that the weather is finally picking up.
Yeah absolutely! It’s been a bit challenging with all this snow.
And we’re joined as well by your lovely dog, Stella! It’s so great to have so many dogs as part of the Penny Brohn team.
She’s certainly very excited to have been allowed outside for a little walk around.
She does seem a tad excitable! So Nick, I could talk to you about Stella all day but I should probably ask you some questions about what you do. [laughs] So how did you come to work for Penny Brohn?
Well, I initially started working at Penny Brohn as a volunteer late last year, while working for a great company in London. My career had been in the private sector working in the management and people development consultancy field up to that point, so this was my first experience working for a charity. This is an amazing place, and once I’d seen the support that we offer to people with cancer here, and the impact the Bristol Whole Life approach has on people’s lives, I wanted to be part of the movement! From that point on, I was focussed on understanding how I could apply my experience to helping the charity to grow – and I’m delighted to say the opportunity to manage the Partnerships team on a Maternity basis came up at just the right time for me.
That’s very serendipitous. We feel very fortunate that you came along when you did and we’re so glad to have you on board.
Thank you – it’s great to be part of the team.
So what exactly does your role involve?
My role at Penny Brohn is Head of Partnerships – so that means managing our Trust and Corporate partnerships teams, and heading up our statutory fundraising area too.
Can you break that down any further? What do you do, day to day?
Ok, in reality, this means developing relationships with businesses, trusts, statutory bodies and major funders who are interested in working with us and believe in our cause. It’s incredible how open organisations are to supporting the work we do here, once they find out a bit more about us. Plus – one of our defining principles is that our services are free to anyone touched by cancer, so we are entirely funded by donations from our supporters (whatever their size). With that in mind, it’s really important we make it easy for organisations to be able to support us however they feel comfortable, and to understand why they want to provide that support. I guess that’s where I see my job as being most helpful.
That’s great – it must seem very affirming to know that your job is making a difference in that way.
It really does, yeah.
So what is the most exciting thing you are working on at the moment?
We’re working on a really exciting project at the moment, focusing on how we take the Bristol Whole Life approach out into communities across the UK. Whilst we have this incredible centre here in Pill, this isn’t always accessible to everyone – particularly those outside the South of England. We also understand a lot of communities want to access services through community groups that are familiar to them, and that they trust. As mortality rates for cancer in inner cities are often linked to socio-economic factors, with late diagnosis being one of the biggest problems here, we also understand that getting to people in difficult to reach communities early will help to address this imbalance. This is a really exciting area, and is a project I’m really proud to be able to talk to our partners about.
Wow that sounds really interesting – you’ll have to tell us more once the project is in full swing and let us know how it is going.
It would be my pleasure!
Fantastic news! So is there a moment so far that stands out as a particular highlight in your time with us so far?
Apart from working in a great team, the best part of my job is that no two days are the same. Because the partners we talk to are so varied, working in wildly different industries, with different objectives and different strategies driving their decision-making – and therefore hugely varied reasons for wanting to support our charity – you never have the same conversation twice. I enjoy trying to understand each partner as deeply as I possibly can, so I can be clear on what part of a partnership with Penny Brohn will be the thing that interests them most.
That sounds great. I can completely concur on the variation of work being a fantastically enjoyable part of work here. So do you have a particular interest in working with people?
Absolutely! The fact that my job is all about trying to understand different people, and what drives them, is what motivates me. The knowledge that when I get this right, it means the charity can do even more to support people with cancer is without doubt the best part of the job for me.
Ok, now for the big question that we’ve all been waiting for… what is your favourite dunkable biscuit?
Oh Digestives – no doubt!
Another classic choice for dunking… Emma went for Chocolate Caramel Digestives last month too.
The fact that if you leave the biscuit in your tea for just a little too long, it dissolves and drops to the bottom of your mug, means when you’ve finished your brew you can scoop a deliciously sugary, tea-sodden mess out of the bottom with a spoon – which is one of the great pleasures life has to offer, in my humble opinion!
[Laughs] Well I’m not sure about the soggy mess at the bottom of a cup myself, but I do love a Digestive. However, I’m not sure if they are quite as good without the chocolate on. I’ll have to make a decision on the leader-board later.
Thanks to Nick for joining me for March’s Cedar Garden sessions. It was great to gain a little insight into why he loves working for Penny Brohn UK. The biscuit leader board is still topped by the Custard Cream, whilst Nick’s Digestive biscuit comes in at third place.
We’ll be back here with another member of the Penny Brohn team next month. So keep an eye out for the next Cedar Garden Sessions.