Developing an effective Board of Trustees with complementary skills who work together as a productive team is a vital task for any charity. Along with the right mix of expertise and experience, a really successful team of trustees needs to recruit people who will commit. Julia Squier, one of the Evelyn Trust’s longest-serving trustees, with 22 years under her belt, recognises that this long-term commitment has enriched her experience as a trustee, as well as informing the contribution she makes to the work of the trust.
“Of course we need a range of professions and personalities around the table, so we can provide both technical expertise and constructive challenge, but I think the trust also benefits enormously from both old hands and new faces. Many times I’ve reviewed applications in the light of the success - or otherwise – of projects we’ve funded in the past and tried to bring that learning to the table. I have quite a robust, critical approach to applications, which I think is appropriate when we are often making very high value grants,” comments Julia.
“I enjoy my work as a trustee - it’s really widened my perspective on life and often takes me out of my comfort zone. Many families in Cambridge are wealthy and live a privileged life, but there’s still a disturbing amount of poverty in both the city and Fenland, particularly among minority communities. I’m proud that the Evelyn Trust has found funds for important health and well being projects in these communities, which complement the high profile medical research projects that we have always supported and which have made our reputation. The local focus of the trust also resonates with me: I lived for decades in Cambridge and I was born in Essex, so the communities of this part of the region are particularly important to me.”
Health and well being are close to Julia’s heart: she trained as a physiotherapist and worked for many years in occupational medicine in the private sector. Julia also has in-depth experience of the NHS and primary care. This, combined with her clinical knowledge and experience of bringing up three children, has been invaluable for her work as a trustee.
She is enthusiastic about her life in a rural Cambridgeshire village, where Julia lives with her husband, dogs and horses. So enthusiastic about the countryside, in fact, that she could be described these days as an ‘environmental activist’.
“Litter is an abomination in our countryside and I go out regularly with a group of like-minded friends picking up litter in the worst hotspots and lobbying our local authorities to take more action. We do some good locally, but we also really enjoy each other’s company. You can make a difference and have great fun at the same time – I’d recommend it to anyone!”