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Debbie Cook
Director, NASS
Debbie Cook

Why I got up close and personal

Authors: Debbie Cook Debbie Cook

07 September 2012

The demands of a charity director are high, particularly in the current climate where people have less to give to good causes.

My role as Director of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) was my first in the charitable sector (I had 22 years in local government before this) and boy am I hooked already! I first developed a personal connection to NASS about 15 years ago when I was referred to them. The support they gave me then is just one of the many reasons why I am so passionate about working for such a great organisation. I suspect that this could be a reason why I feel so driven and sometimes place impossible demands on myself and my diary (!). But then again, other charity directors might tell me they all feel the same, regardless of whether they are personally connected or not. We all believe passionately about our cause, of that I am sure.

When I joined NASS as Director just over a year ago I started to write a blog in order to keep our members informed of what I get up to on their behalf.  To make sure that they can decide whether I am ‘value for money’, if you like.  My latest blog post, Up Close and Personal, caused quite a stir, in a positive way.  I was overwhelmed by the lovely feedback I received and also amazed at how much people said it had helped them, to read the raw honesty of someone suffering from inflammatory back pain whilst also holding down a full-time demanding role.

Now, I don’t intend to make a habit of blogging about my personal health issues. That’s not what I’m here for.  What our members need from me is leadership. I need to inspire confidence in them, they need to know that I will lead and develop NASS, raise the profile of ankylosing spondylitis and represent the views of the AS community in all the right places. And that is firmly what I intend to do. I have always been very clear with our members that ‘what you see is what you get’ with me and I think the openness in my blog perhaps confirms that.

It’s not easy for anyone, holding down a full-time demanding role and balancing that with family life. It’s certainly made harder when you are in pain a lot of the time, and when that pain is invisible. But then again, something so worthwhile is never that easy anyway, is it?