One of the best-known faces from one of Gloucestershire's best-loved charities takes on The Raikes Journal's 20 Questions
Florence Nightingale and Ernest Shackleton are forever associated with leading teams through difficult times, but whether they could manage a dinner with the Spice Girls is an interesting one.
Mr Shackleton’s famous endurance would be tested in ways he never knew possible, but you have to imagine that both he and that iconic figure from British nursing would be up to the challenge.
But there is no doubting it is an interesting choice of fantasy dinner guests from this week’s challenger to our 20 questions series.
Her own left turn, firstly to help launch and grow and later run the exceptional Wiggly Worm charity (founded by chef Rob Rees) which used food to help change people’s lives, will certainly have stood her in good stead for her evening with Melanie, Victoria, Mel, Emma and Geri.
And judging by her love of what she does, it is unlikely even the extraordinarily persuasive powers of Ms Nightingale would be able to talk her back towards the original goal of the trained dietician – of working in the NHS. Although Ms Nightingale would no doubt approve the career path she has forged, of helping others and leading change.
She is rooted here in Gloucestershire, and her relationships, experience and expertise is what now makes her the perfect choice as the director of fundraising for another of the county’s best-loved but now national charities.
This week, Abby Guilding, director of fundraising at WellChild, takes on The Raikes Journal’s 20 Questions.
Question: What is your favourite film or series?
Answer: I watch Forrest Gump every Christmas and seem to love it more and more each year. Favourite series has to be Gavin and Stacey.
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: I think it would be fascinating to dine with Florence Nightingale. We could discuss how nursing and medicine has evolved, as well as the network of WellChild nurses across the UK. I like to think she would be impressed!
Next would be Ernest Shackleton. Hearing the story of leading his team across the Antarctic first hand would be captivating.
And finally, the Spice Girls as they were in the 90s. I couldn’tpossibly choose between them, so I’m hoping they can count as a collective guest. They’d cause havoc at the dinner table but there would be some great sing-alongs. #GirlPower
Q: What is the best bit of your job?
A: It is hugely rewarding to be part of an organisation that gives children with serious health needs the best chance to thrive at home. But it is also great fun working with a brilliantly dynamic and creative bunch of people.
Q: What is the worst part of your job?
A: Not being able to get out and aboutat the moment to meet new people and talk about WellChild – I think everyone is feeling rather Zoom-ed out!
Q: Who was your childhood hero or the person you looked up to?
A: I think thisregularly changed as I can’t remember any standout heroes! I admired teachers and people around me, particularly those who were kind and supportive. Of course, my mum is awesome – how she juggled everything still baffles me today!
Q: Where is your favourite place in Gloucestershire?
A: Sitting on the top of Leckhampton Hill admiring the view across the county – it never gets old.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone starting out now?
A: Trust your gut. Listen and learn from others whenever possible. Always ask the stupid question.
Q: Was there a mistake or piece of bad luck which changed things for the better?
A: I trained to be a dietitian and always thought I would follow the path from qualifying to working in a hospital. Whilst looking for a job, I started working in the charity sector, and now wouldn’t go back!
Q: What is your favourite piece of music?
A: Anything I can sing along (badly) to whilst driving or pottering around the house. Current sing-along favourites are Stereophonics and The Killers.
Q: What qualities do you look for in a new member of staff?
A: Enthusiasm and a ‘can do’ attitude. I’m a believer in attitude over aptitude and always admire someone who is keen to learn and improve.
Q: What is your favourite pudding?
A: Puddings in general are my favourite. If I were only allowed one, it would have to be lemon tart with raspberries – just a large slice please!
Q: Has the coronavirus pandemic changed how you see the world?
A: There have been some fantastic examples of communities pulling together to support each other during the crisis. I have been amazed by people’s adaptability, resilience, generosity, and the desire to support others, which I sincerely hope continues.
There has been a huge increase in demand for many charities including WellChild, and the pandemic has highlighted the gaps in appropriate provision.
Q: If it was in the name of pleasure – would it be car, bicycle, walk, run, swim?
A: Long walks across the Stroud Valleys with a muddy dog. There is a pub at the end, right?
I admire those who enjoy running/cycling/swimming and amazed by the enthusiasm from our WellChild Challenge participants who regularly put themselves through gruelling endurance events in the name of fun (and fundraising)!
Q: What is the best thing about living/working in Gloucestershire?
A: We have a great range of VCS organisations based here and a diverse mix of businesses who understand and support our local community.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand to achieve what you wanted to at work, what would it be?
A: Having access to an unlimited income and resource to achieve WellChild’s vision for every child and young person with serious health needs to have the best chance to thrive – properly supported at home with their families. Essentially, putting myself out of a job!
Q: What’s your biggest frustration?
A: The world of charity fundraising certainly has its challenges, and the past few months have thrown up a range of new ones! But I suppose the uncertainty can be frustrating, although I find that it can be a great motivator.
Q: If you could start again and had to do something else, what would it be?
A: I’m fascinated by science and medicine, so would like to think a career within the medical profession – if only I were less squeamish!
Q: Cheltenham Festival, any of the town’s others festivals, Giffords Circus, Stroud Fringe, Gloucester Rugby v Bath, Three Choirs Festival, Cirencester food Festival, evensong at Tewkesbury Abbey, or Newent Onion Fayre? And why?
A: Gloucester v Bath. This was one of the first matches I went to as a child, so I have very fond memories of standing in The Shed next to some Bath fans and experiencing the rivalry! Still love to go to Kingsholm when I can, and the Cheltenham Literature Festival is always a highlight of the year.
Q: If you had to recommend a pub or restaurant in Gloucestershire, what would it be and why?
A: The Jolly Brewmaster(Painswick Road, Cheltenham) has everything you could possibly want in a local pub: friendly people, a nice beer garden, and random ales on draft. Gloucestershire has some amazing places to eat, but Petit Coco Cheltenham is a firm favourite for their hearty bistro grub.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: It would be amazing if WellChild can continue to support families beyond the pandemic and grow our support network to achieve our vision. Once that is sorted, we could start to tackle the next challenge!
Q: What would you like to be remembered for?
A: I’m a feeder so hope people will remember being well fed and watered in my company! It would be great to have had a positive impact on others, if only in a small way.
Abby Guilding is director of fundraising at Cheltenham-headquartered WellChild. WellChild is the national UK children's charity making it possible for children and young people with exceptional health needs to be cared for at home instead of hospital, wherever possible.
To find out more visit WellChild.
First published August 22.
(Every week The Raikes Journal champions an individual from the Gloucestershire business community through the '20 questions' feature.
We pick them on merit (but if you want to guarantee to be featured £75 will ensure that happens and the article on you goes to our 10,000 social media connections. Email: email@example.com).