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Natasha Carlish – my first fortnight at The Hurst

The Hurst’s new Centre Director Natasha Carlish blogs about her first two weeks on the job…

I was thrilled and excited to start as the new Centre Director at The Hurst. As I drove from Shrewsbury to Clunton on my first day I marvelled at the stunning scenery and reflected on what a difference it made to the start of my day compared to the M6 which had been a feature of my daily commute to Birmingham!

On the first day Dan showed me round The Hurst Renovation which is going to be extraordinary but suffice to say there’s still a lot to be done! (We will have the entire Arvon staff rather than Kevin McCloud road-testing the building before the end of the year!) I marvelled at the views from the rooms and the sheer scale of the building and I felt humbled that my team and I would become the custodians of a such a beautiful place with so much history.

The rest of the week was a complete whirlwind of interviewing applicants for the two other positions, a programming meeting with Ruth and Lucy, walking round the incredible grounds and trying to absorb what seemed like a phenomenal amount of information about systems, practices and procedures! I bombarded Dan with a million and one questions and with the patience of a saint he calmly responded with wisdom, wit and experience. I thanked the universe that having been at The Hurst for ten years he is the font of all Arvon wisdom and that he has the generosity to share and support a new and rather overwhelmed Centre Director! I was also helped enormously by the very lovely Lucy, new Centre Director for Lumb Bank, who together with Dan has taken on the epic task of arranging all the furniture for the new building-again, I was most thankful this wasn’t on my to-do list for the next 6 weeks!

Week 2 began with a trip to London for a Senior Management Team meeting and an opportunity to meet all the Arvon National team. It was very exciting to hear about the plans for 2014 and great to meet people from all the different areas of the organisation including Finance, Learning and Participation, Communications and Development. In the evening Lucy, myself and Ollie, Centre Director for Totleigh, headed out to a wonderful tapas restaurant near the Young Vic. Lucy impressed with her knowledge of Spanish and especially her knowledge of good Spanish sherry! The food was delicious and the atmosphere delightful. It was really interesting to hear about Ollie’s experience having been at Arvon for 5 years. On Tuesday after a crazy morning of more meetings with each department giving their 15-minute pitch as to how we can contribute to their remit and a small rainforest of operational paperwork from Nick Murza (including the very sobering budget for 2014!), Lucy and I ran for a train back to the Midlands.

A return to Shropshire on Wednesday heralded the arrival of Anna, the newly appointed Centre Assistant and in a somewhat surreal manner I found myself beginning her welcoming process on day eight of my own time at Arvon. Luckily for me she took it all in her stride and was just as excited as I was about the prospect of working for Arvon at The (magnificent) Hurst. At the end of the day when I spoke with her to check in that all was well, she exclaimed-“yes, great but I feel like my brain has been poached!” Welcome to my world!

And so a food hygiene course, wet walk round the grounds and various programming tasks later I find myself at the end of week 2 feeling joyful, exhausted, excited and amazed-I know there’s never going to a dull moment and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

The Hurst _ Gordon Dickins 010


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