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Leon Burman

New Chair: there’s still time to apply

By admin 04.01.2022

We’re recruiting a new Chair of Trustees

Whitchurch Silk Mill is a thriving living museum that weaves silk and delights all who visit.

Our story starts back in 1813 when the land we stand on today was owned by the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral and leased to Henry Hayter (then called a Copyhold). Henry built the original mill but was forced to sell after a couple of years to silk merchant William Maddick.

Over the next 50 years, the mill was bought and sold several times, until the late 1800s when it was purchased by the Hide family who produced silk linings in 22 colours for the famous Burberry raincoats until 1955.

In 1990, we reopened as a working museum run by the Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust and, in 2018, our mill underwent a major programme of restoration and revitalisation, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other donors.

Today, our collections span over 200 years and about 5,000 objects; we tell the story of 200 years of silk making in Whitchurch, as well as allowing visitors to watch skilled workers using the 19th century machinery. We aspire to be a centre for heritage silk weaving with a national reputation.

We have embraced new technology with e-tickets available through our website and an eCommerce store, a café and a pleasant setting to further enhance the visitor experience.

What’s more, we run year-round exhibitions juxtaposing our traditional heritage with modern, vibrant events attracting both visitors and potential donors and supporting accreditations from Visit England and Arts Council England.

How we are run

The Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust is governed by a 12-strong Board of Trustees. Three of these Trustees are nominated by outside bodies including Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Whitchurch Town Council. Others come from a variety of backgrounds, from heritage to business; all Trustees are appointed to the Board for an initial term of three years, with eligibility to re-stand.

Our current Chair, Christine Beresford, reaches the end of her tenure as a Trustee in September 2022 and we are now looking to appoint a replacement Chair to lead our Board into its next phase of development.

This is a three-year appointment that is renewable for a further two terms. The current Chair will have served since 2017 by the end of her tenure.

The role

As the Chair of the Trust, you will be the lynchpin of our Board, not only providing leadership to the Board but acting as a Trustee in your own right.

You will drive the Board to deliver decisions that are right for the future of our mill and act as a figurehead for Whitchurch Silk Mill and our Trust.

Ensuring our Board works well as a team and all members contribute evenly, you will make certain that long-term plans are in place and the future of the Mill is at the forefront of decisions.

In addition to the above, the Chair will also:

  • Run Board meetings, approve agendas and ensure good participation from Trustees
  • Maintain and develop a close, effective and supportive working relationship with the Mill Director
  • Ensure the boundaries of management are clearly defined

What we ask for from you

The Board meets four times per year, normally once per quarter either face-to-face in Whitchurch or via video chat. You may also attend meetings of the Audit and Risk Committee and of the People, Performance and Culture Committee, which meet in advance of Board meetings.

As the Leader of our Trust, it is expected that you will also attend activities and events outside of Board meetings including meetings with key stakeholders whose support makes a difference.

What you will bring to the table

To be considered as our next Chair, you will need:

  • Enthusiasm and empathy for the vision, mission and values of the Silk Mill
  • Experience, and a thorough understanding of, charity and corporate governance and leadership
  • Communication and diplomacy skills to build and balance relationships with multiple stakeholders across public and private sectors
  • A demonstrable commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Passion for engaging people of all ages and backgrounds in the industrial heritage of Hampshire
  • An effective, confident and enabling approach to chairing meetings, and a commitment to building strong working relationships with members of the Mill Team
  • The ability to support and develop Trustees individually so that they make effective contributions to the organisation and feel valued
  • A commitment to the seven principles of public life

A background in, and passion for, textiles, design and/or heritage would be highly advantageous to your application.

This is a voluntary position.

You may have previously held the role of Director, Trustee, Operations Director, Commercial Director, Managing Director, Finance Director, MD, FD, Executive Director, Non-Executive Director, Chairperson, Chairman, Chairwoman, CEO, Chief Executive Officer, COO, Chief Operations Officer, CFO, or Chief Financial Officer.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 10th April 2022.

How to apply

To apply, please select the apply button and submit a short CV and covering letter, both of which should be no more than 2 sides of A4, outlining your reasons for applying and suitability for the role. Please include the names and contact details of two referees who will be approached only if your application is successful.

The first interviews will be held on Saturday 23rd April 2022. Second interviews will be held on Saturday 14th May and will include the opportunity to meet staff and volunteer members of the Mill Team informally, as well as members of the Board. The successful applicant will be appointed to the Board as a Trustee and Chair Designate with immediate effect, allowing a period of induction and familiarisation.

The Mill Director and current Chair are both available for informal conversations about this role. 

You can apply by email to the Mill Director sue.tapliss@whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk.

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