Sally Thorp recently joined the College at Churchill in the new role of SCR Secretary. We caught up with her to find out more!
Can you tell me a bit of background information about yourself and your journey to the role of SCR Secretary at Churchill?
I come from a Civil Service background, working 18 years at the Department of Transport and Environment Regional Office in Bedford. The work was extremely varied – from authorising traffic mirrors for people’s driveways to providing briefing and speeches for Ministers visiting the region. On one occasion (around 1998) I had to organise a conference at one of the Cambridge colleges. We had lots of important delegates attending, including the actress Glenda Jackson, who was then Transport Minister. It was the first time I’d ever been inside a Cambridge college – I was particularly impressed at how professional and efficient the College Staff were, who ensured our event ran extremely smoothly. I was also captivated by the beauty and tranquillity of the College’s building and grounds – and secretly vowed that one day I too would work at a Cambridge college.
Eventually, this did indeed happen. After meeting my husband, moving to Cambridge, and starting a family, I ended up working for several years as a Secretary at the Music Faculty on West Road. I then worked briefly in the Tutorial Office at Corpus Christi College, before taking up a PA position for the Vice-Provost at King’s College, where my job was primarily looking after the King’s Fellowship, organising various feasts and dinners, and assisting the College Butler with High Table bookings.
I very much enjoyed working at King’s – the work was certainly interesting and varied, and the Fellows were all very lovely, but the hours could be quite long on occasions. Due in part to my husband changing jobs, I decided last summer it was time to step back and find myself a part-time job so I could focus more on my home and family commitments.
What drives your interest in this particular role?
Well, call it kismet (or just plain luck) during December I just happened across the job advert for the SCR Secretary – it was like all my Christmases had arrived early – a job very similar to what I particularly enjoyed doing at King’s; the perfect part-time hours I was looking for; and, most importantly, working at the very same College I first visited as a Civil Servant 24 years ago!!
What are you most looking forward to in this role?
Assisting the Fellows’ Steward and SCR President with organising all the various Feasts and Dinners for Senior Members of the College (all sounds very jolly), and hopefully in the process getting to know a few of 250 Fellows and associated members of the College that enjoy coming along to all these marvellous High Tables and Feasts organised by the Catering Team.
What do you like most about the College so far?
The groovy 1960’s architecture; the friendly Churchill people – all of whom I have met so far have been very welcoming and helpful. I’m also particularly impressed with the staff coffee making facilities.
Is there anything your colleagues and / or students need to know about you?
Apart from loving coffee and cats in equal measure, I work part-time hours, 2.5 days per week (Wednesday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 12.30pm). When I’m in College I “hot-desk” – normally in one of the offices based up on the first-floor next to the Main Dining Hall – which is extremely handy for that amazing state of the art coffee machine). I’m always happy to meet with people face-to-face, so if anyone is unsure where to find me they can drop me a line first. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com .
What do you like to do in your spare time?
During the cold winter months there’s nothing I enjoy more than curling up with a good book (currently re-reading John le Carré’s espionage novels) or watching old black and white films on the “Talking Pictures” TV channel. Once the weather improves, I enjoy going out for walks – Cambridge has some very picturesque walking and cycling routes, particularly along the river.