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TikTok talk with HRH The Princess Royal after prestigious award win

Durham inspires      
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Our Accommodation and Commercial Services (ACS), within the Estates and Facilities Directorate, has received the Princess Royal Training Award, which was awarded by HRH The Princess Royal herself at a ceremony in St James’s Palace.

The award celebrates organisations that have invested in staff development and have been able to evidence the positive impact this has brought to their employees and their organisation.

ACS received the award in recognition of their Succession Planning Programme, a programme that creates career progression opportunities for team members through a structured Staff Development Programme.

Among the programme’s success stories is Callum Hornsby an Estates and Facilities Relationship Management Coordinator.

Callum was invited by Helen Strangward, Director of ACS, to join her and Catherine Olley, Head of Estates and Facilities Relationship Management, at the awards ceremony at St James’s Palace.

Dialogue spoke to Callum about the programme and his experience of meeting HRH The Princess Royal.

How have you benefitted from the Succession Planning Programme?

I started at the University while completing my foundation degree in Sports Science as a casual grade one housekeeper within ACS. As I had predominantly only been in education until this point, I had very little experience of 'working'. Once I’d completed my studies, I went on to gain full time employment as a grade two General Services Assistant. I knew I wanted to progress within the department and spoke to my line manager about the ACS Succession Planning Programme. I was lucky enough to get a place on the programme which helped me build confidence and develop a career pathway that I wanted to pursue.

As my assigned mentor, Louise Bellenger offered advice, helped organise job shadowing, and was on hand to answer any queries I had. Sessions such as interview readiness and career pathways provided me with the knowledge and experience I needed to be successful with two future job applications.

I am currently a grade five Estates and Facilities Relationship Management Coordinator and I feel this is due to the help of Succession Planning.

Another benefit of the programme was finding out about the apprenticeship levy and other training opportunities available. I have successfully completed my IWFM Level 3 in Facilities Management, and I am currently completing my IOSH Managing Safely qualification.

This shows that if you want to progress and develop, the opportunities are there - you just have to be dedicated enough to take them.

What advice would you give someone who is currently thinking about taking part in the Succession Planning Programme?

We’re improving the Succession Planning Programme for 2024. Succession Planning was limited to only colleagues within ACS. For 2024 we’re introducing the ‘Estates and Facilities Staff Development Programme’ which is available to the whole of the Directorate.

My advice would be to always make the most of the opportunities on offer. The programme received the prestigious Princess Royal Training Award as we were able to evidence the positive impact the programme has had on many colleagues and the department. In my opinion the programme speaks for itself. Succession Planning helped me find a career pathway/journey that I am still working towards today, a couple of years after successfully completing the programme.

It truly did give me that boost I needed to continue to develop and be successful.

We believe you had the opportunity to speak to HRH The Princess Royal at the awards ceremony. How did it feel chatting with royalty and what did you talk about?

That is correct. Helen Strangward, Director of ACS, kindly nominated me to be the representative from the University to speak with HRH The Princess Royal. It wasn’t how I imagined it to be. I thought I'd be nervous about addressing Royalty correctly, but The Princess Royal immediately put me at ease and the nerves became non-existent.

We were in groups of around six to eight, all from different organisations. In turn, we all stated who we were and which organisation we were from, followed by general chit chat amongst the group and Princess Anne. My further interaction with The Princess Royal was about being influenced and how the youth of today now see those on social media apps such as TikTok as ‘influencers’.

Never in a million years would I have expected to be talking to Princess Anne about TikTok!

Away from work, what’s your idea of a perfect day off?

A perfect day off would be spent with my one-year-old daughter Thea, Fiancée Kaitlin, and dog Ernie. A nice warm day, strolling along the beach with an ice cream.

What has been your favourite holiday and why?

For my favourite holiday I would have to pick our trip last year to Center Parcs. This was our first time away with Thea, as well as our first time at Center Parcs, and we all loved it. Plenty of eating, swimming, and relaxing. I’m looking forward to returning in the summer.

What are your hobbies?

Watching anything sport related, predominantly football (Newcastle United), golf and darts.

I don’t play very often anymore but I always enjoy playing football and golf. I like spending time with my family and reading books on my kindle.  I've just finished the third book in Richard Osman’s ‘Thursday Murder Club series’ and I'm looking forward to reading the fourth and final one!



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