This Valentine's Day, I wanted to talk about something a bit different: what I call my "other job".
In October 2016, I went along to the AGM for my daughter's Pre-School, in our village.
As she was getting a bit older, I thought it was about time I started getting back out into the world, and I do love a bit of community giving back...
I sat through various discussions about Pimms stalls at summer fêtes, and bake sales.
And nothing really piqued my interest until the outgoing Chair joked, "and all we need now is a new building!".
I spoke for the first time:
"how much will that cost?"
In April 2017, we launched the Acorn Project, to raise £145k for a new community building that will also house the Pre-School.
Since then, as Project Manager, I have been using my civil service skills for real world good: dynamic leadership, powerful teamwork, solid project management, good meeting practice, sound governance, proper consultation and communication with stakeholders, and effective risk management.
Since training as a coach, I have introduced a whole lot of extra skills, from coaching and mentoring tools to asking the right question and seeing things from multiple perspectives.
And I've been learning a whole lot more besides: poster design, social media skills, event organisation and publicity, and - most of all - how to write a grant application.
Nearly three years and 60 grant applications later:
we've raised £120k
we've become an amazingly well-oiled events team
we've fostered strong community support locally
and I've made some fantastic friends among the talented, dedicated women who have worked so hard to get us here.
And we're now nearly there!
Only £25k to go...
So in honour of Valentine's Day, and my forthcoming birthday (this Sunday!), if you would like to show the Acorn Project some love, you can Buy A Brick here: virginmoneygiving.com/fund/buyabrickhorringer
And as part of my giving back to you, anyone who buys a Brick will be entered into a draw for a free Power Hour (worth £250).
It has been enormously hard work, but it has also been an amazingly rewarding journey.
Fingers crossed we get to the end!
Thank you for your support 😍