Just honoured by the Queen for his services to charity - now the boss of Cheltenham charity CCP takes on The Raikes Journal's 20 Question challenge
As he escapes across Cleeve Common on a run, one of the trails this week’s 20 questions challenger leaves in his wake is the one that shows his organisation making a real difference to some of the most vulnerable in Gloucestershire.
The small organisation he heads up is the epitome of ‘more than the sum of its parts’ - with the small team he is clearly in awe of managing to move mountains to provide food and support for those in need.
His hero growing up was his dad, who would also makes an appearance as one of his fantasy dinner guests – alongside Freddie Mercury and Princess Diana
And he names a number of businesses and business people from Gloucestershire for the heroic work they have done through the lockdown (you will have to read on to find out who they are).
But distract as he may from his own efforts, they were recognised this month when he was awarded an MBE for his services to charity, especially through the pandemic.
Of course, he said the award was for everyone who had endeavoured in the name of the organisation he represents.
But we think if his father were able to sit down beside him at that ‘fantasy’ dinner party, he would be rather proud of his son.
This week, Cordell Ray, chief executive of the CCP (Caring for Communities and People), takes on The Raikes Journal’s 20 Questions challenge.
Question: What is your favourite film or series?
Answer: Forrest Gump – such a classic portrayal of how nothing should stand in the way of happiness!
Q: You’re hosting a dinner party and can invite any three guests from any time in history. Who would they be and why?
A: Freddy Mercury – all time No1 vocalist and all-round superstar
Princess Diana – everyone in life deserves to have a voice
My Dad – because he would be immensely proud and excited to be with me and my two dinner guests!
Q: What is the best bit of your job?
A: Camaraderie with like-minded energetic, dynamic, dedicated staff (paid and unpaid) who share my passion for a fairer, more equal society. Then of course there is the positive impact we are having on peoples’ lives – which is crystal clear and I can see in so many ways. The transformational impact we have on young homeless people and the speed and strength of our response in providing emergency food parcels at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic are just two examples.
Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: Lots, but I think the hardest to accept is suffering of so many children who, for whatever reason, are being let down by adults and are destined to have a much harder life as a result. We have been doing some pioneering work in trying to break the cycle of homelessness in families where, there is a history of this, but there is so much more to do.
Also I would single out the difficulty in rewarding both staff and volunteers appropriately as a charitable organisation. The commitment and dedication of our staff is always amazing, but has surpassed that during the pandemic.
Q: Who was your childhood hero or the person you looked up to?
A: As a child, my hero was my Dad - I could not have held him in higher regard.
Q: Where is your favourite place in Gloucestershire?
A: Probably Cleeve Hill – stunning views (sunsets are incredible), countless paths (which I often run), family friendly and on the doorstep. Gloucestershire is such a beautiful county and I never lose sight of how lucky we are to live and work here.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone starting out now?
A: Have personal vision, a life fulfilling goal and oodles of self-belief - because ultimately this will make you happier, but don’t forget to stop and look at the world around you through a lens of #bekind
Q: Was there a mistake or piece of bad luck which changed things for the better?
A: February 1992 I asked myself “where is my life going?” – In a job I didn’t really enjoy (actually hadthree jobs to make ends meet), no qualifications and the dawning realisation that I was going nowhere fast.
That awakening eventually resulted in me gaining a BA Honours Degree in Social & Community Studies and the start of my life working in charity. I have never looked back.
Q: What is your favourite piece of music?
A: John Denver – You Fill Up My Senses (Annie’s Song)
Q: What qualities do you look for in a new member of staff?
A: Positive mental attitude and someone who will ‘dig deeper’ than anyone else first and foremost.
Then they must share our passion for making a difference and delivering what we regard as a Gold Standard service. This has been challenging over the years financially and we have had to be increasingly creative in the ways we achieve this, but it is something we must not and will not compromise on.
Q: What is your favourite pudding?
A: On balance, Eton Mess.
Q: Has the coronavirus pandemic changed how you see the world?
A: Yes, amongst all of the great achievements of humankind, it has brought into stark focus how destructive we can be, have been and continue to be. Then on the flipside how many people and businesses went out of their way to support our Foodshare project at a time when things were difficult for them as well. Over 250 individuals and businesses got involved and sadly with redundancies spiralling upwards we are likely to need even more help.
Q: Has any business person or business from Gloucestershire stood out for you during the pandemic (if may have been a small gesture, a giant statement, a decision made)?
A: A few actually, Prestbury Marketing for great PR support during Lockdown, Circle to Success for rallying the wider business community and Creed Foodservice in meeting food demand during our Covid-19 emergency appeal but moreover, Quolux ,led by Dr Stewart Barnes, who have developed and supported my leadership throughout the pandemic.
Q: If it was in the name of pleasure – would it be car, bicycle, walk, run, swim?
A: Definitely run. Since CCP took on the Cheltenham Challenge I have been turned into a running addict, which for anybody knows me well, will confirm what a transformation that is. So far this year I have pounded over 1,500 Kilometres, mostly in Gloucestershire, and aim to have completed 2020 kilometres by the end of 2020. If anyone wants to sponsor me (in aid of CCP) to do 2021 in 2021 then I’m open to offers!
Q: What is the best thing about living/working in Gloucestershire?
A: Probably being able to enjoy a great family life, with access to everything we need. My family are very important to me and I observe them flourishing with all Gloucestershire has to offer – that has to be the best thing…. Right? Then there is the closeness of the business and third sector organisations, there is such a willingness to help others whenever they can.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand to achieve what you wanted to at work, what would it be?
A: My wand would result in a fully resourced early help, family support offer for all families who need help – big or small – to ensure that every child grows up able to fully embrace everything that should be great in life. And if I could be very greedy for each and every aspect of our organisation to have the resources they need.
Q: What’s your biggest frustration?
A: A child unable to fully embrace everything that is great in life because of the life into which they were born. You might just detect how passionate I am about this aspect of our work.
Q: If you could start again and had to do something else, what would it be?
A: As a young man – I’d love to be a Jockey (am I too old now?). If we are talking aboutnow,I’d like to be one of the incredibly talented folk on ‘The Repair Shop’- their skill and knowhow is totally awe inspiring.
Q: What Gloucestershire event would you choose to attend over all others and why?
A: Gold Cup – because you just can’t beat that Cheltenham Roar.
Q: If you had to recommend a pub or restaurant in Gloucestershire, what would it be and why?
A: No3 Restaurant Cheltenham – apart from excellent, attentive service, hands down it serves the best Full English breakfast I have ever had. We used to use Pepper Crescent in the same building for years before it was shut, so it is great to see Phil Vickery and his team take the building on and do such a good job. If everybody had the positivity and drive that Mr Vickery has, the world would be a better place.
Q: What would you like to be remembered for?
A: Making a small but meaningful contribution to a fairer, more equal world.
Cordell Ray is chief executive officer of Caring for Communities & People (CCP Charity): www.ccp.org.uk.