9 Nov 2023 Community
An introduction to The Kirkwood trustees
The Kirkwood are incredibly proud of our trustees and the crucial work they do to help our organisation provide the very best care to those in need. As volunteers, they offer their skills, expertise and time free of charge to make sure our vital local charity continues to be a beacon of hope for those living with life limiting illnesses in every town and village across Kirklees. We recently sat down with trustee Peter Roberts, who explained what his role is and why trustees are so important.
Peter, who is 76 years old, has been involved in some capacity with the hospice since it opened in 1987. Peter became a trustee some years later when he was able to spend more time helping The Kirkwood in a trustee position.
Looking back, Peter explained his connection to our charity. He said: "I'm not from around West Yorkshire originally, I was born in Wales and grew up in Cheshire. I eventually moved over to Yorkshire and now only live 10 minutes walk away from the hospice site in Dalton.
"My connection with The Kirkwood started at the very beginning. I came to live in Kirkheaton because I got a job at the university in Leeds as professor of urban planning. My late wife Jo, who had spent a good number of years working as a sister in a Hospice in Warwick, was walking the dog one day and walked past what was then just a building site with an initial building on it called Kirkwood Hospice. She knocked on the door and met John Murgatroyd. She asked if she could be a volunteer. He joked with her and said she probably had more experience with hospices than anyone there at the time. She quickly became a part time member of staff.
"I got roped in because in the early days it was all hands to the pumps in terms of setting up some of the basic management systems. I helped wherever I could, especially with policiesrelated to my own professional areas of expertise. I wasn't a trustee at that point and didn't really have time to commit to the amount of time you need to really be an effective trustee. I did however become a trustee much later.
"I'm really proud of what The Kirkwood has managed to achieve over the years. It's much more than simply a standard hospice. It goes beyond the boundaries of what a standard hospice is.
"It's represented now regionally and nationally as an example of good practice across many fields, and that's brilliant. The most recent work that I've been involved with is developing the environmental, social and governance agenda. It is another example of how we can contribute not only locally but regionally and nationally to the work of Hospice UK."
Peter also has an emotional connection to The Kirkwood, he explained: "Jo's health deteriorated and she was receiving help and support from The Kirkwood before she died. She had cancer and she went through a period of active treatment. She then had a period of remission, but then the cancer recurred. She died on The Kirkwood's In-Patient Unit in 2018."
"From then on I actually made a conscious decision to say, look, what can I do to help you further? I'd seen the fantastic work that was being achieved by The Kirkwood team at first hand and so wanted to help the hospice further."
Peter explained what the role of a trustee is, commenting: "Well, trustees obviously are concerned with the overall accountability and governance of the organisation.
"We have what are known as fiduciary duties in terms of making sure that what we do is legal, decent and honest, and I contribute to that.
"I've worked in various organisations as chair or as a board member, including big national organisations. Recently, I chaired a thing called the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for 10 years, where I oversaw a budget of £1.5 billion. So I'm well versed in this type of position and charity law on the whole. Most importantly, I'm well versed in terms of what represents good governance, good accountability, good management.
"The role of the trustees is to hold The Kirkwood's management team to account and support their activities and decisions. So our job is to, if you like, act as the governors rather than the actual executive team."
The Kirkwood are always looking for new trustees, so if you think you have the skills to help us please get in touch.
On recruiting new trustees Peter said: "There are various ways in which you can become a trustee.
"We would welcome contributions from everyone and anyone who wants to get involved. Being a trustee does bring with it challenges in terms of a commitment of time and expertise, making use of your contact network and understanding the evolving circumstances within which The Kirkwood operates. However it is also very rewarding in terms of actually being able to make that contribution, to put something back and to be able to contribute to a professional resource and wonderful charity."
Finally Peter added: "Without The Kirkwood it would cost the NHS a lot of money with the services we provide. We support hundreds of people across Kirklees.
“Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to Michael Crowther and the entire team – who run The Kirkwood on a daily basis – for the work they do. It's absolutely brilliant and inspirational to think of how we represent really good practice, not just locally but nationally."
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