Joining the RMT for a weekend
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself, Helen.
Aside from having spent almost 30 years as a media sales and business development specialist, working on household brands such as ITV, Heart, Smooth, LBC and talkSPORT, I also love to sing barbershop (hello baritones!) and volunteer in my spare time. I get to combine my love of horses and giving something back at Chigwell Riding Trust, Riding for the Disabled Association a role I find immensely rewarding. In the last 18 months I have also qualified as Counsellor and Mentor at Childline and as a Visitor for Independent Age. It helps if you like a good cup of tea for that last one. As you can tell I like to challenge myself, keep busy and live life to the full!
So, why did you decide to attend the Regional Management Team (RMT) meeting now?
They say it’s always in the timing, right? Having relocated back to my home town in Essex after 15 years in the wonderful city of Manchester and having also started a new job in London I had some settling in to do and soon I became busy on the Management Team of London City Singers, so the timing had to be right for me personally to be able to consider committing to the RMT and, of course, for the roles also to be available. I am extremely lucky to have sung and worked on the Management Team at Cheshire A Cappella with Hilary Pinnock (current Region 31 Marketing Coordinator) and have been interested in roles on the RMT in the past, something Hil is well aware of and we discuss whenever we chat. During our last conversation, Hil suggested I come and see what it’s all about to get a real taster of what is involved and we knew that there are vacancies opening up both this year and next for the RMT, so I was cordially invited to Cardiff in January to join the quarterly meeting, and what better way to get the full picture than to experience it for yourself?
Go on then, tell all!
I knew the RMT usually starts their meeting on Friday night and finishes Sunday lunchtime, however, as I was driving and it is some distance, so it made sense for me to head to Cardiff to join the team fresh faced on Saturday morning. After a journey supplemented by strong coffee, I was super excited to head straight to St David’s Hall and see the stage. Having competed at Symphony Hall, Royal Concert Hall and Sage Gateshead in the UK, I’m delighted to say I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a fabulous venue.
I arrived to the barbershop sound that we all know and love so well – a quartet of the RMT testing the sound in the auditorium so I just followed the singing and found them to be in fine voice. The first thing I realised was how much there is to consider particularly with it being a new venue for 2019/20 and our 20th birthday year – and once the singing stopped (it continued on into several rooms to consider the options for warm up), the RMT Events Team went on to a full meeting with the St David’s Hall personnel, their Box Office Manager, Duty Manager, Events Coordinator and Stage Manager, to discuss convention in detail while the rest of the RMT headed back to the hotel to continue working through the two-page agenda for the weekend. When the Events Team arrived back at the hotel any items for discussion were fed back to the wider team.
We stopped for a brief lunch where the barbershop chatter continued as you would expect – and soon continued where we left off. We also made a Skype call to Anda van Stegeren in the Netherlands and because she was back in the UK visiting family, Margaret Vonk also popped her head in on the Saturday to join in discussions. The buzz around the table was awesome.
After having done a full eight hours working, we decided to freshen up and meet in the bar pre dinner. It was here that I really got to start to get to know this wonderful group of extremely talented and inspiring women better and this continued at a local Italian restaurant over great food and for some, a glass of wine. We retired to the hotel relatively early for a nightcap and a sing-along (actually more of a harmonise-along) to the music of an event taking place in one of the conference suites. I also decided to educate Elaine Hamilton on the art of the selfie (photos available to the highest bidder)!
Having had a good Sunday breakfast we started the meeting at 9.30 prompt, no messing, and worked through the remainder of the agenda and AOB before saying our goodbyes early afternoon and heading off by planes, trains and automobiles or on to a chorus RMT visit in Somerset as was in the case of Alyson Chaney.
What did you learn?
Most importantly: how absolutely dedicated the RMT is to Region 31 and how super hard they work for you and me and the region as a whole – it’s definitely not just the quarterly meetings, but everything that happens in between.
Also, how much is involved behind the scenes that you will probably never be aware of – and all is done to ensure that everything runs smoothly from convention to education events such as the super exciting International Education Symposium this year, to general communication with us as members and responsibilities to Sweet Adelines International, to working with the wider barbershop community of IABS, LABBS and BABBS, Barbershop In Harmony, Holland Harmony and SABS (honestly, how many acronyms can I squeeze into this article!) where possible.
On a final note, I cannot tell you enough what a friendly, welcoming, talented, committed team of ladies we have on the RMT, with a vast amount of knowledge between them, and one that I felt very privileged to have been part of, even if it was just for that weekend. Our region is in very safe hands and I’m looking forward to perhaps being part of the team in the not too distant future.