It seems no time at all since Bruce and Helen visited me in my office to discuss the possibility of me becoming a Trustee at Faith in Older People. As I look back, I can see that within the intervening timeframe life has changed a great deal: as a family we have said sad farewells to my mother, father-in-law and a favourite aunt; we have welcomed two new grandchildren; we have moved house; I have retired; we have built new friendships in the village community we now call home and also welcomed nine great nieces and nephews. Change has been the inevitable, at times unwelcome companion during these years.
Change has also been our companion here at Faith in Older People, transformational change that has come about as vision has been translated, through sound strategic planning, to become the reality on which the next period of informed inspiration was based. None of this imaginative creativity would ever have been possible without the canny care and concern of learned and experienced Trustees I have had the joy of working alongside on the FiOP Board. As a consequence of their insight and participation FiOP has moved from a position on the sidelines of national life to the heart of consultation and decision making as the result of excellent research, carefully themed activities and targeted training.
Of course, none of this could have happened in quite the way it has without the wisdom, life-gained experience and clarity of understanding that Maureen, Mary and key associates have brought to the sustained maturing of FiOP’s important work. There are few privileges so great as to have the opportunity to work alongside, encourage and occasionally provide guidance to individuals who bring such incredible skill and commitment to their roles. As an organisation and as Trustees we have been greatly blessed to serve in the development of this important work with them.
As I reflect on my time as Chairman, I think of Round Tables that I have attended with some of the foremost international experts in their fields; conferences where the Keynote speakers have taught me more that I could ever have contributed; discussion groups and trainings. All of these have widened and deepened not only our own understanding but also that of the many hundreds of participants from across Scotland, the UK and internationally. At no time were the lessons learned in these activities allowed to go to waste. Evaluations and recommendations have always been acted upon as they have informed the next important strand of work.
One of the most amazing and positive adaptations that FiOP has undergone came about as an impact of the pandemic. Our staff and associates had to learn to work from home, our Trustees had to learn how to Zoom or use Teams and our activities had to go online. What an amazing learning curve for us all! The efficiencies and opportunities that were opened up to us allowed growth in attendance at activities from much further afield, reduced costs and increased our presence on the national and international field. As we entered this unknown IT territory who could have known then about the successes it would bring in its wake through the resilience and adaptability and speedy learning that was required of us all.
And finally …. a very fond farewell and thank you to you all. I commend the ongoing work of FIOP to you as highly as I commend Su’s Chairmanship to you. Even as you have supported my term of office so I hope and pray that Su and her team will know your prayerful support in the days that lie ahead.
Chairman, Faith in Older People