A Farewell to Simon, Chair of the Doorway Board of Trustees

Posted on December 2, 2013 by Categories: Charity, Chippenham, Poetry, Wiltshire Tags: , , , , ,

It is with great sadness that we said a fond farewell to Doorway’s Chair of the Board, Canon Simon Tatton-Brown, when he retired from his position at this year’s AGM.

As part of my Chief Executive’s report to the AGM I spoke briefly about the role that Simon had played over the last few years…

“Now back in late 2009 Doorway was going through a very difficult and stressful time. I had only recently taken over as project manager, we had lost our only support worker and I was unable to morally recruit another member of staff due to the rather unstable nature of the organisation. It was all looking rather bleak since the partnership between Develop and the Salvation Army was to wind up and we were, very unsuccessfully looking into the potential of going into partnership with another organisation.

Bearing in mind that not only we were down to only myself and an admin worker, but also I was under a strict gagging order and I was not allowed to speak about the circumstances to anyone inside or outside of Doorway, you can imagine that I was going through a rather stressful time.

It was at this point that Simon came to my rescue. I didn’t know Simon very well but we were both members of a newly formed Rotary breakfast club and very early one dismally dark morning we were both sat together at the table. This proved to be rather fortuitous since he very politely asked me how I was. Well, the poor man must have had a bit of a shock because instead of my replying with the socially acceptable “fine thank you” I simply opened my personal flood gates and all the issues that we were facing came pouring out over the breakfast table.

Needless to say Simon, as only Simon could, turned around to me and simply stated that he wasn’t having any of this and that he would sort it out. He then proceeded to subsequently arrange a stakeholder meeting, set up a new board of trustees for Doorway, register the new organisation with Companies House and sort out all the necessary paperwork and procedures in order to comply with the Charities Commission.

 And for that I will be forever grateful to him. Because, basically, without Simon’s sheer determination, Doorway would not be in existence today.”

Simon subsequently sent me a lovely thank you letter for his leaving gift:-

“ Dear Lisa,

I can’t say how moved I was when you all gave me my present last Wednesday. What an inspired choice! For as I downsize, I’m going to be limited to one small book case. So the Kindle is just what I was thinking I needed to get for myself – only Doorway got there first.

Please pass on my heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to the gift, and say thank you.

It’s been an eventful three years, but immensely satisfying. When I think back ten years to when there was no voluntary provision at all for homeless people in Chippenham, and the frustration I and colleagues felt when we could do little more than give a cup of tea and a sandwich at the vicarage front door, and compare it to what Doorway now offers – well, there is no comparison. Then, four years ago when it looked as though Doorway might have to close and all that had been achieved in those first years was under threat – well, it didn’t happen, did it?

I’ve been blessed by having a super team pulling things together. Looking back, I’m immensely proud that the steering group and then the new trustees, together with you and the Doorway staff and volunteers,  not only kept the service going through all these changes but grew them. We had our moments, but I don’t think the guests suffered at all from interruption of service, apart from the few occasions when we had to close a particular drop-in session. But there weren’t many.

I shall miss our meetings. But I leave knowing that Doorway is well placed as you go into your anniversary year in 2014. Above all the Doorway ethos, which you have done so much to foster, is secure. It’s not just practical help that we offer our guests, but friendship.

With every blessing for the future, Simon. “

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