Opinion: Third Voice - Excitement and nerves on my first day in the House

Baroness Delyth Morgan, former chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. She was recently introduced to the House of Lords as Baroness Morgan of Drefelin.

From outgoing chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer to my first day as a peer in the House of Lords. It's like your first day at university - the feeling of going from knowing everything to knowing nothing.

It's a challenging transition that takes me from being one of Breakthrough's longest-serving employees to the youngest woman peer. It's very exciting but incredibly nerve-racking. Understanding the value of humility really helps. At the introduction ceremony, I was surrounded by political icons from the past 30 years and realised that I am now a small fish in a big pond.

As I settle in, I am comforted by some of the parallels between my first days at Breakthrough and the Lords.

These days Breakthrough Breast Cancer is the UK's leading breast cancer charity, raising £12m last year for its vital breast cancer research, as well as its campaigning and educational work. It has hundreds of thousands of brilliant supporters and 80 committed staff. I have come to count on them for my daily dose of inspiration and help. I am already missing them.

But in January 1996, when I became Breakthrough's chief executive, it was quite different. As one of a handful of staff who had meetings on wallpaper tables in cramped offices, and stuffed envelopes late into the night, I knew little about breast cancer. I knew I wanted to improve the lives of the families affected by this disease, but we had a long way to go to make an impact.

Nine years on, I realise that my experience of strategic management and leadership, which helped Breakthrough to where it is today, is of little value. Ironically, it is the practical hands-on skills I had back in 1996 that I most need now. My Lords desk is actually a printer table and, no, there is no river view. I share an office with five other peers. I write my own letters and stuff my own envelopes. I know lots about breast cancer but little about the House or its protocols and ceremony. However, the people are amazingly welcoming.

Breakthrough is a unique charity and I will miss it dearly. I know my appointment to the House of Lords is a rare opportunity to help make a contribution and promote social justice.

With change on the horizon, I really believe the Lords is one of the most interesting places to be right now, and I am looking forward to being part of that.

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