Trustee and Chair of the Finance Committee
Nicky McClean has been a trustee of St Margaret’s Hospice Care since 2019 and has recently taken over as chair of the Finance Committee. Nicky works for Wells Cathedral as Head of Finance, before this working as an audit manager, specialising in charities and non-profit entities. Nicky has kindly shared with us what interested her in becoming a trustee and what she thinks are the benefits both to the charity and to her.
How did you become involved in St Margaret’s Hospice Care?
When I started working at the Cathedral one of the things that immediately improved was my work-life balance. This was one of the reasons I came out of practice and even before I had settled down, I knew that I wanted to eventually look at joining a Trustee board in the future.
It was through my role at the Cathedral that I was introduced to the hospice, Alison Grove is a Trustee for Wells Cathedral and she said the board was looking for someone with relevant financial experience. Of course, I knew of the hospice, living and now working in Somerset I was aware of the valuable service the hospice provided throughout the county and it has a great reputation as excellence in end of life care. I had also previously worked with other hospices and so had some insight into the finances of similar organisations.
Once I had told Alison I was interested it was a lot like going for a job interview, I submitted my CV and Lisa Price, Director of People and Organisational Development came over to Wells to meet me. Lisa was open and honest about the commitment and the challenges the charity faced. After meeting Lisa I was really impressed that it didn’t seem like it was the board against the leadership team, which you do experience in some charities and businesses. It felt like a two-way conversation between the two bodies, it was a big tick in my book.
After this I met with other Trustees, who again echoed the same things and I felt excited that this was a board and team that were happy, encouraging challenge and made the best use of the critical friend role a trustee plays. The final part of the process was having a tour of one of the hospice buildings, it was a really interesting time and I got a real feel for the place. Staff and volunteers were welcoming and I really enjoyed watching the human interaction and the compassionate way patients and their families were treated.
The rest, as they say, is history – I have been on the board for roughly 18 months and I would say I am still learning! However, I have recently taken over the chair of the finance committee which I am looking forward to.
I’m really impressed with the organisation, we’ve already got a diverse range of experience and knowledge and I know that we are looking to expand this further. Every member of the board seems engaged and enthused with their role and the executive team respond well to this. It’s a great team that echoes the hospices values and ethos. We had an Away Day booked this summer to help forge the strategy for the next few years and I was really impressed, many organisations have put these sort of planning projects on hold due to covid, however this wasn’t a question at St Margaret’s. It swapped to a virtual day and it was really good, I came away with an even better insight into what we are trying to achieve for patients and their families across Somerset.
What advice would you give a prospective trustee of any charity?
Do not leave reading the papers to the day of the meeting! There is two to three months between meetings and you need to be able to read the papers in preparation with enough time to refresh your memory with the context. We don’t want the executive team to have to repeat themselves every time and therefore they report on the latest actions, not all the history. So if you’ve given yourself some space to read you can go back to previous meetings to remind yourself of the context, so that you aren’t playing catch up during the meeting and they aren’t delayed by an unnecessary recap.
How are you finding the commitment?
Obviously, technology is helping, although I am looking forward to when I will be able to meet people in person for some of the meetings. The hospice was really quick to support us in remote meetings and although everyone is looking forward to a time when we can do more in a room together, I would imagine it will be more of a mixture, as meetings are certainly less time consuming without the travel for everyone.
I am also lucky that the Cathedral’s financial year is not the same as the hospice’s so the pressures of board meetings for both organisations don’t fall at the same time. It also means I am much less likely to get confused!
What do you get from being a trustee?
Not only do I get to put my knowledge and experience to good use for the good of my local community and feel good about it, but it also helps me in my ‘day job’. I work with the Cathedral’s board of trustees and I’ve been able to improve my reporting and my relationships as, seeing it from the other side, I have a better knowledge of what information Trustees need from me, what they would find useful in order to challenge and ask the right questions.
I also get to benefit from the diverse range of ‘arms’ of the hospice, there aren’t a lot of organisations that have teams from clinical to retail and everything in between. So although I enjoy giving my knowledge and experience, I’m also gaining lots more from areas I didn’t know as much about.
With a busy work life, what do you do to relax?
I am pretty sure it is the same as most people, reading, holidays, eating out, even though we haven’t been able to do the last two this year! I am not sure you would call it relaxing but we brought our first house about 18 months ago and this year, like lots of other people, we decorated. I am really enjoying putting my own stamp on it and experimenting with different looks. We finished the kitchen recently and I am so pleased with the work we did in the living room, including my prized golden sofa! I have really enjoyed adding my personality to a house.
However, it is not all decorating, we also have Ted the dog, a Shih Tzu who enjoys muddy walks and certainly keeps us busy. I am looking forward to the days when walks can be finished off with a refreshing drink at our local!
Nicky's lounge and her lovely dog Ted
Thank you for Nicky for explaining her role, if you would like to find out more about becoming a Trustee, please click here.