Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Beverley Pace, Meningitis Research Foundation

I have been a trustee of the Meningitis Research Foundation since 1993, and I was appointed chair last October.

I was originally approached by the foundation to see if I would put myself forward to be a trustee. At the time, the charity was looking to increase the number of trustees on the board because the organisation was expanding.

I had business and IT experience the board thought would be useful.

The procedure for appointing new trustees has changed since then. Potential trustees are now invited to attend three trustee meetings and, after that, the rest of the board decides whether or not to ratify their appointment.

This also gives potential trustees the chance to see for themselves what we do so they can decide whether or not they think they will get on with us.

The board meets about six times a year. We have four 'standard meetings' to discuss general business, one meeting that coincides with the annual general meeting and one strategic planning meeting. This last one deals specifically with forward planning, without getting bogged down by other issues.

I don't find it a problem balancing my responsibilities as a trustee with my work and home life. As an ordinary trustee, I was probably giving up only one day a month to the position. Since I have become chair, this has increased to a couple of days a month.

The main thing that helps our particular board work so well is that all the trustees have a personal interest in meningitis. Everyone has immediate family who has been affected by the disease - this keeps us focused.

Our greatest desire as trustees of a research charity is to close down - if we can get the vaccines into production and get meningitis stamped out, we will no longer be needed.

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