FD in Five Minutes: Penny Ramsden

Third Sector speaks to the finance and business manager at the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, a charity that preserves the Rotherham stately home Wentworth Woodhouse for the nation

Penny Ramsden
Penny Ramsden

Why did you choose your current career?

After having my children I took a career break, then took up a part-time admin job at Wentworth Castle Gardens in Barnsley to work around my family. But within weeks I was asked to fill a vacancy for a finance manager, so I went for it. That is where I first heard about Wentworth Woodhouse: the two places have an interlinked history.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?

Going to 11 Downing Street with the trust and supporters to present our master plan in 2018. We staged a reception to launch our plans for the future of the house. I felt so proud and honoured to be in that famous building, the seat of power we all see on the news and never imagine we are going to set foot inside.  

What’s your biggest challenge at work?

Keeping up with the pace of change as we manage the restoration of the house, open it up to the public and organise events that fundraise or have a social purpose. It’s a new business and we started small, but it has grown very quickly over a short period of time. It’s wonderful to be in our beautiful Grade I listed building, but that’s not without its daily challenges either. The heating, our phone and internet signals, to name but a few, and finding people because it’s so vast.

What do you do outside work?

I’ve got two teenagers who compete at cyclo-cross: it’s like cross-country running but on a bike, and it gets very muddy. Most weekends I can be found in various corners of the country, standing in a muddy field cheering them on. At other times I’m volunteering to help with events at Wentworth Woodhouse: a few months ago I was dressed in Georgian costume, helping out at our first Regency ball.

If you had to work in another industry, what would it be?

Truly, there isn’t anything else I would rather do. It’s not just about keeping the finances on track, it’s being a part of the next chapter of the Wentworth Woodhouse story. This place has got soul. Every morning when I pull into the drive I feel privileged to be here. I sit in my office with its lovely fireplace and its 1950s wallpape, and wonder about the people who occupied it before me.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation. It would mean I could get more done. I wouldn’t have to spend time driving to and from work; I could pop to my favourite restaurants abroad on a whim; and getting around our huge mansion house and its grounds would be a breeze. 

If you were Prime Minister for the day, what would you do?

My first tasks? I’d go for tea with the Queen and re-enact Hugh Grant’s dance from Love Actually.

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