In this short blog series, we introduce our board to you with a series of short questions.
How did you first hear about Sing Inside?
I first heard about Sing Inside through social media and my friends from the choral world. I was inspired by the professionalism of the organisation and was intrigued as a choral conductor by the different challenges posed by leading music within prisons.
One of the key moments for me was the tragic London Bridge terrorist attack which led to Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones losing their lives in 2019. Learning about their legacy with Learning Together and understanding their stories really inspired me to get involved with an organisation which advocates a compassionate approach towards prisoners and helps to improve rehabilitation outcomes.
When I saw that Sing Inside were looking for a Trustee with financial experience, it seemed the perfect fit due to my accounting and musical backgrounds.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Ambitious, passionate, detailed.
Where are you based and what do you do at the moment?
I am currently based in Exeter, Devon and work for Clinton Devon Estates as a chartered accountant in the role of Head of Financial Governance and Reporting. In this role, I am responsible for ensuring the accuracy and submission of all statutory accounts and tax returns as well as being a key member of the development of our 2030 strategy. The strategy aims to incorporate the key theme of sustainability throughout the culture of the organisation as we face the existential threat of climate change and the impact it will have on property and land.
In addition, I have a parallel career as a freelance choral conductor, classical tenor, and vocal coach. I am currently the Musical Director of the Exeter Bach Choir and a Tenor Lay Clerk at Buckfast Abbey. In 2021-22, I will be taking up a place on the MA Choral Conducting course with Simon Halsey at the University of Birmingham.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in lockdown?
I think the biggest lesson I have learnt would be the importance of live music making on good mental health. Whilst I had previously read studies linking singing to better mental health, I had not quite appreciated how important it was to me as an individual. When it was taken away almost overnight, you realise how much you rely on music and how important it is to so many people including the beneficiaries of Sing Inside workshops within prisons.
What are your hopes for Sing Inside in the next few years?
I hope we can continue to build on the excellent foundations of the organisation that Maisie, the executive committee, the existing Trustees, and the brilliant volunteers have built over the past few years since the charity’s inception.
I hope that I can bring additional expertise to help the charity improve its financial governance and resilience. This will hopefully provide a strong footing to allow the charity to grow its services around the UK into other areas such as the South West where I am currently based.
Finally, every organisation must engage with the key issues of our generation if it wishes to thrive and stay relevant: sustainability, diversity and equality. I look forward to working with Maisie and the board in understanding what Sing Inside’s contribution can be in helping promote positive change in these areas.