Chief executive's blog: July

Rosemary Macdonald looks back on an inspirational community event.

WE RECEIVE a great many invitations from groups to attend events and I try to go to as many of them as I can. I was delighted to be asked by the Nepalese community in Swindon to attend the tenth anniversary of the Kalabang Gharedi Samaj UK, a national event that this year took place in Swindon.

This get together is an annual celebration for the Nepalese in the UK and provides an opportunity for them to reunite, celebrate their heritage, and share good news. It was a pleasure to see again the delightful Jum Bahadur Gurung, who we’d met recently at the Wiltshire Life awards, where he was a nominee for the community service award that we sponsored.

The Wiltshire Community Foundation had given the community a grant of £3,580 to make a film about their life in both the UK and Nepal. The event marked the first showing of this film, which was fascinating and obviously meant a lot to the community who were there to see it.

We had some wonderful food, saw some traditional dancing and met some lovely people from the community, many of whom had served in the Gurkhas for decades. The oldest member had actually served in Borneo and been decorated for bravery.

We were given a very warm welcome and it was so nice to show some appreciation for the community who give so much back to their adopted country. Not only do they serve their own community so well but a lot of them are involved in SSAFA, helping servicemen who have left the military. They also volunteer at Great Western Hospital and it seems that whenever a call goes out for people to get stuff done, the Nepalese are the first to put their hands up.

I think it is a really admirable approach and we were pleased to be able to say how proud we are to be associated with them.

The event was a first outing for our new chairman Ashley Truluck, who came in very handy on the day. While in the army he served for many years with the Gurkhas and was able to talk to the veterans about their life in the forces. He has also visited the places where many of them and their families came from. I know they appreciated his knowledge and enthusiasm.

But when the second half of the event was delivered in native Gurkhali, Ashley was able to translate for me, which was very useful!

 

I AM very pleased that Ashley has now been confirmed as the new chairman of Wiltshire Community Foundation. He has started his journey with us with incredible energy, interest and enthusiasm.

He has already spent time with the trustees and the staff, getting to know how we work and seeing what needs to be done to help us be fit for the future. He has got lots of ideas and, with six new trustees on board as well, these are exciting times for the foundation.

I am really looking forward to a trustee awayday in October, where we will be reviewing our strategy.

 

ANOTHER exciting event over the last month was a concert that my husband Fraser and I sponsored as part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival given by mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately, daughter of the actor Kevin, of Inspector Lewis fame.

She sang beautifully and we were lucky enough to have her father and her mother, the actress Madelaine Newton, come and meet us afterwards.

The festival is now part of Wiltshire Creative and was the first time it had taken place since the merger, and also since the novichok attacks in Salisbury. The organisers put on a very engaging programme that had something for everyone, which was reflected in the fact it was so well attended.

I am really proud to be associated with Wiltshire Creative as one of its trustees. People ask why art is important at the time of such economic uncertainty.  Although the arts are under incredible funding pressure as people decide to focus on what is considered essential,  what could be more essential and uplifting than something beautiful before you?

Art gives people the opportunity to express themselves in a creative way, it gives audiences something to inspire them and it renews people’s faith in mankind. Also in simple economic terms, bringing so many people into the city weeks before another hugely popular event, the Armed Forces Day, has to be great for the area.

 

I CAN’T finish this month’s blog without mentioning the wonderful Lionesses who lost so gallantly to the USA in the semi-finals of the World Cup. They still have a shot at third place but whatever the outcome they have demonstrated what good leadership can deliver and what heart and courage can do for performance and how much of a unifying experience sport can be when it brings a nation together.

It was fantastic to see women’s sport, which has for so long been hidden away at 11.30pm on BBC2, centre stage at prime time with full production values. The massive 11.7 million audience it drew is justification for that and I am sure it will have inspired a whole generation of girls, and boys.

Pictured: Rosemary Macdonald with Jum Bahadur Gurung at the Kalabang Gharedi Samaj UK and, below, new chairman of trustees Ashley Truluck and guests at the Kalabang Gharedi Samaj UK