MEET THE WOMAN BEHIND THE CHARITY …
Your name? Karen Rabjohn
Your business name? Head of Fundraising, Garden House Hospice
How long have you been in your charity? Joined Garden House in January 2014, but have been involved in Fundraising for more years than I can remember! Prior to working for Garden House Hospice I worked with homeless young people from deprived areas and abuse victims.
What do you love most about your job? Knowing that what I do makes a difference every single day. The money I raise makes somebody else’s life better! Be that housing someone, getting them into employment, providing nursing care or support for a bereaved relative. I’m not trained to nurse someone or counsel someone, but I can raise money that pays someone else to do that and that’s how I can make a difference.
Your claim to fame? I once cooked lunch for Bill Whyman from the Rolling Stones! He stopped at the pub where I worked and I was on duty in the kitchen so I cooked his lunch.
Your first childhood memory? Hiding from my dad and cousins in a local park and thinking that it was really funny, until my dad found me and went berserk at me! He thought I’d been abducted. I was five years old and I can still remember it as clear as if it were yesterday – that’s how angry my dad was!
How long have you been a member of WIBN and why did you join? Joining WIBN Stevenage was one of the first things I did when I started work at Garden House Hospice. I needed to network quickly as not only was I new to the job but I was new to the area! Other business networking groups can be high pressured and pushy. I wanted a supportive group that gently introduced me to the area and I got exactly that with WIBN.
Most frightening film and why? I don’t do any kind of horror films. I don’t mind gore I just can’t stand the suspense type horror so I never watch them. So my frightening wouldn’t be a horror film. I always think real life is far more frightening than a film – so a film about real life frightens me the most an the awful things that human beings can do to each other – The boy in the striped pyjamas stayed with me for a long time after watching it.
What sort of training did you have before going into the charity sector? Before becoming a paid fundraiser I was a volunteer fundraiser for my church and on various school PTA’s. I suppose my training was trial and error! Prior to that my background was in HR and Training for a large corporate. Once I was being paid for fundraising I thought I had better get myself some formal training though so I did a degree in Third Sector Management and Social Enterprise.
What advice would you give someone who wants to set up their own business? Go for it! Nobody ever got anywhere or made a difference thinking about it. If you don’t try you’ll never know. There are very few things in life that are not ‘undoable’! So try it if it doesn’t work try something else. And always remember you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. It took me many years of heart ache to accept that.
The one business you couldn’t possibly live without? The TV industry! I do love my television. Oh and the chocolate industry!
Who is the most interesting person you have met? Little children in general! Their honesty, openness and innocence is fantastic and their take and understanding of life I find fascinating.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you? Kim Kardashian as I’d always look good walking away from the camera! Failing that I’d play myself as I’ve always secretly wanted to be an actress especially if Brad Pitt was playing my husband!
What is the last book you read? Nicholas Sparks – the best of me.
What is the best thing that someone has said about you and your charity? I love the fact that wherever I go people always say such wonderful things about the hospice and how it helped them or their family. It is really satisfying working somewhere that is genuinely loved and respected by the community. That’s not down to me, but to everyone who works for Garden House.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing – what one thing would you do differently? From a personal point of view I would have done more when I was younger. Travelled and worked abroad. And been a bit wilder as I was always very sensible even as a teenager! From a business point of view probably nothing as I am currently happy with my work and career.
If you could be a super hero, what would you want your superpowers to be? The power to travel both forward and backwards in time. That way I could go back and undo things that either I had done or said, or someone else had done or said that has caused pain or distress to others. Or change fundraising events that haven’t gone to plan! And of course I would know the Lottery numbers!
How would you describe your work in three words? Valuable; varying; satisfying
How have things changed for your charity over the past few years? The hospices services have extended and demand is increasing but funding has reduced!
What is the greatest challenge in running a charity? People! I’m saying no more on that.
What are your plans for the future? Continue raising as much money as I can for Garden House Hospice. Introduce new and exciting events; engage more businesses to support the hospice; continue to be a part of WIBN.
What’s the best thing about being a member of WIBN? The camaraderie and support.
If you want to know more about the amazing work of the Garden House Hospice or the fundraising activities they currently have, please visit their website http://www.ghhospice.co.uk/ or email Karen at [email protected]