Chairing OST Trustee Board

Naomi Booth :: Friday 25th March 2022 :: This Story

The Beginning

Maureen on her journeySo, where and how do I begin to describe my role as Chairperson of OST.  Perhaps as I am now almost at the end of my tenure of this post, it is best to go right back to the beginning. 

And for me that beginning is 2005 when Dilanee first set up Ocean Stars Trust in response to the devastation and destruction in Sri Lanka caused by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.  I was teaching in a local school at that time, and we were keen to get involved and support OST's work as well as was possible. Several years later, 2008, I was part of the first team of volunteers to go and work in OST preschools. It was that visit that truly cemented my passion for OST, its vision and the communities it seeks to support.  I've revisited on a further 5 occasions – each trip has been different, but always inspirational. I've grown to love the place and especially the people.

Maureen in Sri LankaBecoming a Trustee and Chair

In 2010 I became a trustee and began attending Trustee Board meetings.  I had no previous experience of formal management or governance meetings, so it took me time to find my place and gain some understanding of board protocol! And to be honest, I'm still learning ...

Then in 2016 due to a necessary reshuffling of board 'roles', I became Chair of OST. My knowledge of the role at that time was what I had observed from my predecessor (John). I soon realised what I'd seen was a small part of what the role really involves.

There are so many aspects to it. OST trustee board meetings take place at 2 monthly intervals so 6 meetings in a year.  These meetings form the most visible part of the role– collating reports and documents needed for the meeting, preparing agendas etc Then there is the actual running and management of the meetings themselves.  I initially found this really daunting.  It was only the advice and encouragement I received from Dan, another of our trustees, that enabled me to 'survive' those early days.  I do feel more confident these days but it's not an aspect of the role that I ever find easy and I'm very grateful to the OST team of trustees who are patient with me and give me great support.

TrusteesGetting to know the diversity of the work of Ocean Stars Trust

Apart from board meetings, there are a number of less visible parts to the role, and it is these aspects of the work that I particularly value and enjoy.  As Chair of the charity, I quickly realised I needed to be well informed about every aspect of the charity's work.  As an early years teacher myself, my passion is to see all children have that educational opportunity so I'm naturally drawn to involvement with OST's preschool and Child Development programmes. Then there's our cultural links work with schools and preschools, the sponsorship programme and community projects which I can also easily connect with. The world of finance and understanding budgets, business plans etc which are an essential and vital part of charity governance, has been more of a struggle for me.  It's given me headaches!!  However, I have had a lot of support and have learnt a great deal.

Moving On

In a couple of months' time, I will leave this role but to some extent I doubt its impact will ever leave me. Yes, there have been challenges but to be part of the OST team and to work with and learn from our teams both here in the UK and in Sri Lanka has been a privilege for me.