The fantastic Chair of our board, Avril Gibson, is stepping down this week after 22 dedicated years of trusteeship.

Trustees voluntarily give up their time to ensure that charities stay on track and continuously fulfil their purpose and commitment to their beneficiaries. It’s a vital role but one that is rarely visible to the public, so we wanted to highlight the important work that Avril has carried out over the years:

Avril is passionate about creating opportunities in Northumberland and particularly in our Ashington community where she was brought up and has spent much of her life. She displays a steadfast dedication to making real change, which is essential for those working for the benefit of young people with constantly evolving needs.

“She’s fun, honest, and has been a tremendous support to me. She has been here through the great times and the more challenging times but has remained resolute and committed.”- Rob Cox Chief Executive

For Avril improving the day-to-day lives and prospects for young people and communities has been a lifelong passion, having previously held the position of Chief Executive at the Northern Learning Trust which provides effective learning and mentoring programmes in the community with a strong focus on children and young people. Her experience running a charity with shared values has been invaluable for our team.

Since retiring in 2018 she has become even busier! She has increased her involvement with our work at YMCA Northumberland and her other charity commitments.

She’s known for going above and beyond and she has been a regular presence in the building, helping the team, often outside the scope of her trustee role. Our administrator Alwyn told us about a time when the YMCA was preparing for a fundraising event and community meal and Alwyn was tasked with ironing large tablecloths and napkins. When Avril saw how many she had to do she immediately dropped what she was doing to help out and give Alwyn a break.

“She understands that we’re a small team and she gets on with everyone, is down to earth and is always willing to get stuck in when needed.”- Alwyn, Administrator

Avril has particularly enjoyed giving out awards to our young people for their achievements as participants in our projects and has enjoyed meeting and chatting with people and finding out more about them and the impact our projects are having on their lives.

For our CEO Rob she’s provided a much-needed sounding board, encouraging, and challenging him to keep pushing forward and during our recent strategy days, she’s been fantastic at helping the team focus on the long-term vision for the organisation alongside keeping a firm grasp on the details.

“She’s been great at seeing the big picture and driving us to be ambitious in our plans. She also always takes the time to engage with our social media which I really appreciate!”- Elinor Marketing Assistant and Community Engagement Officer

In her role she’s supported new recruits, openly shared her knowledge and experience, and has become good friends with her fellow trustees in the process.

“Avril is always there for support and is an amazing ambassador. She has been amazing to work with this past two years. I shall miss her.”- Carol, Trustee

“What can I say about Avril? She’s brilliant, committed and dedicated. It has been my privilege to learn from her over the years.  Her advice, knowledge and skills have been invaluable to everyone at the YMCA and its success. Most importantly, I will miss her as my friend!”- Mandy, Trustee

She is leaving the YMCA in a much stronger position, and our future looks bright. Although she will be sorely missed something tells us this won’t be the last we see of her and she will continue to support and advocate for YMCA and our young people.

We would like to extend a big thank you for all her hard work from everyone at YMCA Northumberland!