Jackie’s restoration challenge

Jackie grew up visiting her Grandmother who lived near Marble Arch, and has spent her working life in the area – initially as a Westminster councillor and now as CEO of One Westminster and Deputy Chief Executive of Paddington Development Trust.

1Can you explain your role in one sentence?In one sentence, I suppose you could say that my role is to support a thriving local charity sector and to improve relationships and activities between that sector and the world of business. Day-to-day this means I attend lots of charity networking meetings to learn about the issues affecting local residents, write funding bids and policy documents, meet with potential partners and build relationships between community groups. Yesterday afternoon I was doing battle with the temperamental office photocopier. I tend to get involved in everything.

2How long have you been working in the area?I have worked in this area for over 20 years in my current roles, but been involved in the community long before that. I love the fact that I now work in the area where I spent so much time during my childhood.

3Did you find yourself in this role by accident or by design?Absolutely by accident. I think I always knew that I would end up working in the charity sector. My Dad spent a lot of time instilling in me the importance of supporting those who are less fortunate, but I have really stumbled my way into all the jobs I have had. I used to be on the trustee board for Paddington Development Trust and I decided to stand down and apply for the Deputy Chief Executive position. I have then been seconded to One Westminster. These roles support each other, as I can transfer so much of my knowledge between the two organisations

4What’s the best part about your role? The variety is wonderful. I get to meet so many inspiring people form all walks of life. There is great spirit among people in Marble Arch – you have people from so many different backgrounds all living alongside each other and I love being able to help bring these diverse groups together.

5What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you in your job? In my work for Paddington Development Trust I am helping to oversee the restoration of a Grade 1 listed church in Paddington, which will open as a cultural and events venue in the spring. I am so outside my comfort zone, but have found myself becoming passionate about this space and its role within the community. I never knew I would be able to talk in such detail about vaulted ceilings or biblical paintings.

6What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?I love going on holiday to Italy. The Le Marche region is a particular favourite destination and we had a wonderful holiday in the summer in the Italian Lakes. When I am at home I love watching trashy telly – box sets, Game of Thrones and Strictly are my favourites. It’s the only time I really switch off.

7What do you like about this area? I love how you can find everything here – from £1 shops and pavement cafes to high-end boutiques. You really can experience the whole world as you walk along.

8Where’s your favourite place to go for lunch in the local area? Alfie’s in Church Street is a hidden gem – the perfect spot for a light lunch or coffee and cake. I also enjoy going to Fatoush on Edgware Road. They do great meze, it’s not too expensive and the food is delicious.

9Who is YOUR hero and what is it about them that inspires you?My heroes do tend to change, but at the moment I would say Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai. Both women have made a commitment to giving back and making the world a better place. They are doing so with a quiet dignity, great strength, compassion and intelligence. I really admire that.

10If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be? I would like to visit Northern India and travel around by train. I am particularly keen to visit the city of Varanasi, which feels like it would be India at its most intense. Another memorable train journey I would like to take one day is on the Trans-Siberian railway. Given the opportunity I would take a sabbatical for 3 or 4 months and have a real adventure. I didn’t do the gap year thing and would love to immerse myself in a place, live with the locals and really experience life there.