Fran started at Camphill Village Trust in February 1986 and has been ‘building connections’ ever since.
Starting out as part of a Community Programme aiming to get people back into the workplace, Fran travelled twenty miles in transport provided by Botton Village.
In the beginning Fran started as an Admin Assistant and was made permanent after a year’s placement at the Trust. Her role involved helping with village accounts, typing and printing inhouse weekly newsletters and more, with her role changing over the years to focus on fundraising. Her final role for the Trust has been that of Fundraising Manager.
We sat down with Fran to discuss her time and the Trust and her thoughts and feelings about retirement.
What was it like when you started at the Trust?
‘Hard to believe now but I was a quite shy person with not much self–confidence, but this community was the best place for me. I was nurtured, encouraged and brought out of my shell. At the end of my one–year placement I was asked to take up a permanent position and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.’
How did the trust support you?
‘Everyone in Botton Village was considered equal, all had something to contribute to the community, and with the support of this wonderful community I blossomed, I became part of the family. I was often invited to share the lunch table, join in festivals, trips out to the theatre.’
Was there a Fundraising department when you started?
‘The village grew and our fundraising extended from Botton Village to all the communities of Camphill Village Trust. I’ve managed to visit all but one of the communities. The office has changed over the years. We moved from the house to a converted metal workshop next door before moving into the purpose-built block we now have on the same site.’
How has the office changed?
‘Technology has advanced so much, in the early years we were delighted with an electric typewriter. Now have laptops that enable us to work anywhere, and during the Covid pandemic we were able to work from home. It’s hard to believe that in the early years we had a glass of water and paint brush to seal letters in envelopes and took our franking machine to the post office to top up the postage.’
What has remained the same?
‘My team. There’s been just a few changes over the years, I’ve been so lucky in having such loyal and supportive colleagues who are really more than work mates, they are friends. My team, Ann, Susan, Jackie and Victoria, we’ve shared wonderful experiences with the residents. Together we organised Christmas parties, had regular visitors to the office for a coffee and a chat, joined in all the festivities such as Michaelmas and even taken Eurythmy lessons.’
Have you enjoyed the role?
‘I’ve loved working for Botton Village and Camphill Village Trust, it’s been a big part of my life. My role changed to predominantly fundraising and through the years I’ve been involved in the production of newsletters to supporters, managing the office, processing and acknowledging donations, talking to supporters on the phone and latterly managing the database.
‘The reason why I’ve stayed so long is because I work in a community, being able to work alongside the residents, many of whom are friends. They are warm hearted, welcoming and non-judgemental.’
What is your fondest memory of the Trust and what has stuck with you the most?
I was supported through both happy and sad times in my life, the loss of a parent, the birth of a grandchild, where I met my husband. I have much to owe this extended family.
A part of that extended family is without question our donors who have so generously contributed to the Trust for many years. It has been great to have such a longstanding relationship with many of them.
What are your plans for retirement?
Retirement was a difficult decision to make, probably one of the hardest I’ve ever made. I feel it’s time, I want to spend more time with my husband and family, we missed out on so much during Covid. We have an allotment close to our home and we both enjoy bowling. I still only live that 20 miles from Botton Village so I won’t be a stranger. I’ll still consider myself part of the family.