Sayer Vincent is a firm of chartered accountants that has been dedicated to charities and social enterprises for over 30 years. Their awards encourage finance professionals to develop their leadership potential and contribution to the achievement of their charity's objectives. The awards recognise extra effort, where an individual or a team has 'gone the extra mile' and made a big impact on their organisation or beneficiaries. Nominations for treasurers and volunteers are welcome. Each winner is awarded a prize of £1,000 for their charity to spend on training and development of their choice. Smaller packages of training and publications are given to entries that are highly commended by the judges.
So, after researching their website I felt that this was indeed a nomination I wanted to have a go at. I have not had any experience of nominating members for awards outside of guiding so this was a learning curve. I carefully read and re-read exactly what it was they were looking for and then compiled the nomination and evidence.
Let me tell you a little about Laura. In 2003 she was appointed Young Leader with a Guide unit and progressed to being an adult Leader in 2005. As an adult she has been part of the leadership team for both Rainbows and Brownies. In addition to her leadership roles she has been a District Treasurer for Pilgrims Hatch, Brentwood, and qualified as a Girlguiding Anglia Region Trainer in 2011.
Laura is absolute breath of fresh air to Girlguiding Essex West. She brought us sound business acumen and excellent IT skills, which she has used to great effect to both, educate our trustees and improve the efficiency and effectiveness in our County.
Although Laura works full time she still manages to utilise many hours of her spare time to support Girlguiding Essex West. Her career has been mainly in the insurance industry, initially as a Customer Services Advisor. She then became involved in training, both delivering training and designing/developing training packages in line with business requirements. Following redundancy Laura now works for Essex County Council as a Project Manager. She is responsible for managing all new projects that occur within Essex Pension Fund to make sure the department meet their regulatory, statutory and operational requirements.
As our Chair of Business and Finance she has worked closely with our honorary County Treasurer and recruited other volunteers from within our County membership that have an interest in financial matters.
This has been revolutionary for Girlguiding Essex West. She is regularly reporting to our trustees and highlighting areas of financial concern, improvement and celebration. Hence we are now operating efficiently, making best use of our resources and utilising our members’ annual subscriptions as effectively as possible.
Whilst our trustees have formulated a clear business plan, it is Laura that keeps this document up-to-date from the information she receives from the other members of our County Executive Committee. She also regularly reviews the risk log and highlights areas of concern to trustees.
Girlguiding Essex West has a charitable status of being an Excepted Charity but as our level of income has grown we are now required to register with the Charities Commission as a charity in our own right. Laura will be liaising with Girlguiding’s national legal team and managing this process for us. I have every confidence in Laura’s ability to do this and rest assured that it will be a smooth transition and that all the necessary information and support will be given to our trustees.
County Executive meetings are now much more productive and we are able to make sound strategic decisions as a result of the financial advice of the Business and Finance Sub Group.
Sayer Vincent certainly kept me in suspense though - I was sure I had nominated her for an "Improving the way we work" category and when her name was not called out my heart sank, but not for long. I was really honoured to learn that Sayer Vincent had created a new category of "Volunteer" to recognise Laura’s achievements. Needless to say Laura has not stopped smiling since receiving the award and everyone is so proud of her. She has received congratulations from her friends and family of course, but also from our Anglia Region Commissioner and her employers. In fact her employers are so impressed that they wish to nominate her for an award too!
This has been a rewarding experience all round and Laura has been further motivated by it. She has already selected a couple of Sayer Vincent training courses that she would like to attend so will no doubt be in contact with them soon. The prize is of course the icing on the cake and I know that Laura will ensure that these funds are spent very wisely.
Thank you once again Laura – you really are worth it.
Girlguiding Essex West
Laura’s achievements so far;
- Instigated regular business and finance meetings with the appropriate members.
- Introduced a formalised budgetary system when previously there was none.
- Instigated regular forecasting.
- Budgeted significant amounts to ensure our members were able to take part in opportunities, particularly those with financial difficulties.
- Created a booklet entitled Essex West Finance Support for Leaders with finance management at unit level. This does not replace the information contained in the Guiding Manual but offers practical advice in line with our County policies.
- Developed and delivered training to our members.
- Assisted Girlguiding Anglia Region with creating a Grants and Loans booklet and attended a national Girlguiding fundraising event / conference on behalf of Girlguiding Anglia.
- Currently working closely with both the honorary Treasurer and paid members of staff to reform our financial accounting with a view to moving to on-line systems to stabilise monitoring.