Monday 14th October, 2019

Anna's time of jubilee

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Earlier this year, Romsey Mill successfully applied to the John Lewis Golden Jubilee Scheme for one of their partners to join the team, on secondment, for 26 weeks.

Anna Ruston, Catering Team Manager with John Lewis’ joined the Romsey Mill team in August, and will be working at Romsey Mill Centre for 4 days until the end of January 2020, to help develop some of our operations and resources work.

We met with Anna to learn more about this fantastic opportunity and to ask about her first thoughts of Romsey Mill.


Anna, welcome to Romsey Mill! Tell us about your role with John Lewis.

I completed 29 years service at John Lewis in October working in various roles. I am currently a Catering Team Manager, but I started as a sales assistant in Robert Sayle’s Gift department, and also worked in the Services department (I learnt how to wind the old Robert Sayle lift manually!), Staff Training and Personnel departments.

Tell us how your secondment came about?

John Lewis Partnership offers a scheme for partners called The Golden Jubilee Trust which is a registered charity set up in April 2000 to celebrate John Lewis’ Golden Jubilee. Money was invested and trustees make approx. 50 awards each year from the investment income. I had wanted to apply for a while but hadn’t found the right charity to work with.

How and why did you choose Romsey Mill?

One of my team at John Lewis volunteered with Romsey Mill and put forward a suggestion to donate some money we had raised in the department to the Mill. I was at the meeting when we handed over the cheque to Romsey Mill and really liked what I heard they did. I spoke to our Community Liaison Coordinator about the possibility of applying for a Golden Jubilee Trust award. The rest, as they say, is history!

What did you previously know about Romsey Mill?

I am local to the area and brought my children to various events as they were growing up. My sister also came to youth cub here and still remembers the songs they sung!

What does your work entail?

At the moment I am focussing on the volunteer side of the charity with the view to increase volunteer numbers. I am doing a Youth Development course run by Romsey Mill and will be volunteering with one of the groups. By doing this I will have a better understanding of what a youth volunteer does which in turn I hope will help me in recruiting more volunteers. I have spent time with the Charity Shop team and the team at Cara Coffee in Great Shelford (If you’ve not been yet then you must!)

You’ve now been with us for a few weeks, what are your first impressions?

I am keeping a diary of my time at Romsey Mill and in my first week I wrote that I am amazed how some regular volunteers have been part of the Romsey Mill family for years. I am also amazed how much is available for young people and how much it is used (and needed).

What has surprised you?

How much it costs to deliver all the support to families and young people each year. The fundraising team does a fab job in promoting the work and finding different ways of raising money.

How do you describe Romsey Mill and its work to your colleagues at John Lewis, and your family and friends?

They would all probably tell you I haven’t shut up talking about it! The work Romsey Mill does is so beneficial in so many ways. I think unless you have been touched by situations that some young people and families have to deal with then it’s hard to fully understand how important Romsey Mill is. It is a lifeline for so many.