Ipswich businessmen discuss their roles as trustees for St Elizabeth Hospice

Ian Turner and William Barnes at St Elizabeth Hospice trustees meeting

Ian Turner and William Barnes at St Elizabeth Hospice trustees meeting - Credit: Archant

Despite the pressures and time involved in running their own companies, numerous local business people also choose to give something back to their communities by working ‘behind the scenes’ in a philanthropic way.

Ian Turner (left) has taken over as chair of St Elizabeth Hospice from William Barnes

Ian Turner (left) has taken over as chair of St Elizabeth Hospice from William Barnes - Credit: Archant

Two of these individuals are William Barnes and Ian Turner who both serve on the board of trustees for St Elizabeth Hospice (SEH) in Ipswich; a purely voluntary role that collectively ensures the hospice is run professionally and responsibly whilst serving its communities.

In September, after four years in the role, William, who is chairman of construction business Barnes Group, stepped back as chair of trustees, handing over the mantle to Ian.

“The board of trustees at St Elizabeth Hospice is made up of a dozen individuals who have a range of backgrounds and skills, that together mean we can oversee and contribute to the range of operations in the hospice that support patient care,” said William.

“The roles we play are not dissimilar to those of non-executive directors within a commercial business, except for the fact that the roles are voluntary.

St Elizabeth Hospice inpatient unit nurses Gilly Johnson, Julie Donohoe, Rachael Shallis and Tony Br

St Elizabeth Hospice inpatient unit nurses Gilly Johnson, Julie Donohoe, Rachael Shallis and Tony Brown. - Credit: Archant

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“Being a trustee is rewarding in so many ways, but ultimately you have to care passionately about the work that the charity is doing and use your skills and knowledge to enhance the operations and the delivery of care services into the community.”

Rigorous interview

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According to Ian, who is joint managing director at Turner Motor Group, the structure of the board at SEH is well thought through.

He said: “It’s not an easy process to become a trustee - the interview is rigorous and as tough as going for a job.

“St Elizabeth Hospice identifies a need for additional expertise and then advertises and appoints a trustee to fit that skill set. It doesn’t necessarily follow that you can automatically become a trustee just because you want to.

“For instance, I was appointed to the board five years ago because the retail side of the hospice was growing, and they needed someone who could bring some sector knowledge and experience to the team.”

In addition to the key functions of communicating and reporting to the trustees, and liaising with the CEO and acting as a bridge between trustees and the management at the hospice, the position of chair brings with it a higher profile.

“Effectively, you are the face of the board and represent the trustees at both internal and external events - often being called upon to speak publicly,” continued Ian.

“But, this isn’t as daunting as it sounds, as this gives you the opportunity to recognise and thank staff, volunteers and fundraisers for their hard work in keeping the hospice running and supporting patients and families,” added Ian, who says William has done a “tremendous job” as chair and that he would like to carry on his work to further build on his legacy.

Changing demographics

According to Ian, many of the challenges facing St Elizabeth Hospice today are related to changing demographics and the growing population of older people in East Suffolk and their more complex needs.

He said: “Our in-patient unit is incredibly important, and it is vital that we keep this service and are able to offer this provision to patients and relatives at this critical point at their end of life. However, it’s also the most expensive part of St Elizabeth Hospice and it’s not currently a definite that, due to rising need, when people reach that point that we will be able to provide a space at the in-patient unit.

“There is also a trend towards more people who reach their end of life not wanting to spend their last days in hospital, but want to live life to the full and pass away in a comforting and peaceful environment, surrounded by their loved ones.

“We need to concentrate on an individual’s specific needs and find ways to empower that person to live their life, their way.”

Ian added: “Another thing I am particularly passionate about, is working with EACH to develop an environment that caters to the needs of young adults who are at that phase of being too old to come under their care and are too young to feel at home in the current hospice environment.

“If we think that the community needs more support, we have to create an atmosphere where we get more support from the community.

“The hospice only exists because of the generosity of local people and their fundraising activities.

“Some are quick to knock Ipswich, but we should be extremely proud that we have an outstanding hospice; something a lot of towns and cities in the UK can only dream of.”

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