BEING A TREESTATION DIRECTOR –
written by Dave Sanderson
What’s it like being a director of the TreeStation? Why did I get involved, stay involved and think other people should do likewise?
My name is Dave Sanderson and I became a director about three years ago. I had just been made redundant when the North West Development Agency was closed by Government, but wasn’t quite ready to retire and wanted to put my experience to use in the voluntary sector. I am concerned about climate change and sustainability and thought my experience in project management, economic development, science and education ought to be of use somewhere. So I put the word about that I was looking. After a while, someone I knew got in touch and said that TreeStation were looking for volunteer directors, so I got in touch. An informal chat with Phil Benn and Patrick Morello followed and I decided to go for it.
So what is it like? Very interesting but not onerous. The most basic requirement is to attend monthly Board meetings at the yard, which last about two hours. This is not a glamorous thing; the room is small & scruffy and often cold, some of those sitting round the table are in work boots and hi-vis jackets. No one arrives in a Jag! But meetings are very businesslike, informal but focused and the issues we discuss are serious, indeed crucial for the future success of TreeStation. Often there is homework to do. Directors take on tasks between meetings, finding things out, talking with contacts, and sometimes writing short documents or plans for discussion at the next meeting. We make decisions and make sure they are acted upon, from agreeing the annual business plan to deciding on marketing initiatives, to approving the purchase of key equipment to examining the team structure. We are a very mixed bunch, some with experience in forestry or fund-raising or engineering. But whatever your background, you learn an awful lot. I’d never even set foot in a timber yard before. Now I know at least a little about arboricultural work, the sawn timber market, how wood chip is made, commercial leases and lots more besides. Crucially, I feel my own experience has helped TreeStation and I have got very real satisfaction from seeing the business grow and thrive, knowing I have helped bring that about.
TreeStation is about to pass the £half million turnover mark. We have about 25 staff. It is becoming a serious operation and needs some additional skills in the board. In particular, we need legal and HR expertise to help us make wise decisions in these areas. Should any of you have background in these disciplines, or know someone else who does and who is looking for an interesting and worthwhile voluntary role, then please get in touch. You don’t get paid but work with some excellent and committed people in a feisty organisation with strong ethics and a mission to mitigate climate change. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and am sure others would too.