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In Conversation with a Trustee

To celebrate this year's Trustee Week, we wanted to have a chat with one of our Trustees here at SWALLOW, to see what being a Trustee means for them.

In addition to his Trustee commitments, Tony generously invites our Horticulture Group down to his beautiful orchard to pick apples to make into juice to sell in our Christmas hampers. Last week they collected almost 300 bottles of apple juice from Heck's Cider - more than ever before! The group will be busy labeling the bottles this week before getting them up for sale. We are all so grateful to Tony for enabling us to produce this delicious juice.

We caught up with Tony to talk about his thoughts on supporting SWALLOW.

How long have you been a Trustee at SWALLOW and what drew you to our charity?

I’ve been a Trustee since May 2021, so just a couple of years. My brother David was a SWALLOW member and my partner Judith and I used to accompany Dave to Boogie Nights. So we got to know some members and staff – and learned about some of SWALLOW’s great work.

What do you enjoy about being a SWALLOW Trustee?

Engaging with the members, the staff and other Trustees is always both enjoyable and quite inspiring. In my work life I work on policy a lot – and you never know whether what you have done makes an impact on real people. At SWALLOW I can actually see the charity doing what it says it does – helping people live the lives they want.

Can you tell us a fun fact / something about yourself?

I definitely don’t dance. Well almost never. Twice in fact. The second time was the most recent. With Craig at Boogie nights. To Baby It’s Cold Outside. I actually enjoyed it! SWALLOW members can be not just fun, but very persuasive!

How do you think SWALLOW helps to create a more equal society?

I think perhaps the biggest difference between people is luck. My brother Dave was born with learning difficulties. I wasn’t. That gave me more opportunities and choices than Dave. That’s not fair. (Mind you, Dave got more than his fair share of charm and wit. Everyone in Evercreech knew who Dave was from him being in the Drama Group. Nobody knows who I am – except for those who say, Oh, you’re David’s brother.) But what SWALLOW does is even things up a bit.

By supporting people in so many ways, SWALLOW really does help create a more equal society – opening up opportunities – really giving members choice and control. And SWALLOW also shows the contribution that members make to making the world a friendlier and more caring place. I hope SWALLOW can do more to help members talk more about how they see the world, what they value and how they think things should be.

Do you have any favourite SWALLOW memories that you’d like to share?

Lots of things but I’ll mention two. Being with Judith and my sisters and their husbands at the Radstock café for Christmas lunch. The food was nice and the café is what you’d call a feel good experience. We are looking forward to Christmas lunch again this year.

And the second memory. Well being in the room when a group of Korean Social Workers had come to learn about SWALLOW’s work. I was very proud to be involved with an organisation that helps people in our own communities – but may also be making a difference 5,000 miles away.

Our Horticulture Group love picking apples at your orchard, can you tell us a bit more about the trees and different kinds of apples that you have?

We love everyone coming down. I think this year there are nearly 300 bottles of SWALLOW Apple Juice. We planted the orchard in 2011. We got 150 trees for £3 each, because an orchard in south Somerset was being grubbed up. We planted 3 of 20 different varieties with fantastic names like Harry Masters, Brown Snout, Dabinett and Slack ma girdle! This year has been a bit odd. Some trees have had very few apples. We hope that the Horticulture Group will come regularly to help with the fields and perhaps with the sheep?

What would you say to others who may be thinking of becoming a SWALLOW Trustee?

I’d say do it! You’ll love being involved. To be honest, with such a great group of staff – and the management group telling us what members think and want, I feel the main role of Trustees is to support the staff and members however we can. Maybe act as a sounding board and of course provide the formal supervision that all charities have to have. What SWALLOW does is great. What I hope is that it can grow to help many more people live the lives they want. I’m lucky to be involved!

Thank you Tony, it's been great to hear from you.

We would like to say a very big thank you to Tony and all of our Trustees for the support and guidance that they give to our charity - we couldn't do it without them.


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