Ever wondered what a senator is and does? We talk to Senator #44100 Peter Duffy, who has recently been elected as 2015 Vice Chairman of the British Senate.
Please could you explain to us what a senator is?
Established in 1952 at the 7th JCI World Congress in Melbourne Australia by Philip Pugsley, a Senatorship is the highest award that can be bestowed on a JCI Member and is a unique way to pay tribute to an individual for his/her dedication and outstanding service to JCI. It also bestows a lifetime membership of the JCI Organisation providing an enduring link to JCI members worldwide, thus creating a link from the past to the present.
I understand you started your JCI career in Africa – could you share some experiences from your time as a JCI member there?
Indeed, I was invited by my then girlfriend to a Chapter meeting in Harare Zimbabwe back in early 1982, met the most interesting group of people and was hooked!! Joined as a member within weeks and so started a series of experiences including being a member, Chapter Secretary, Vice President & President, moving on to be a National Secretary, Executive Vice President and then National President in 1986. Along the way running, as well as participating in various projects, as you do. The biggest was being a member of the COC for the 1984 JCI Area A Conference, but also being National Conference Director twice.
My year as National President was amazing, travelling to the Area A Nairobi Conference where I met my future wife. Actually we met, got engaged and married all in 6 months and are still together 28 years later!!
I was honoured to be appointed the JCI Area A Growth & Development Director for East & Southern Africa by the World President in 1987, as well as serving as National IPP and Senate Chairman. I served as the COC Chairman for the 1992 Area A Harare Conference and of course was awarded my Senatorship in 1989. I have attended 3 World Congresses (Leipzig will be my 4th), 5 Area A Conferences and some 15 National Conventions over my JCI career.
This may sound like a resume, but anyone who has held Chapter, National offices or run projects will understand the camaraderie and special experiences that both JCI and its members offer, they are all for the memory books and help to give special meaning to being a member of this wonderful organisation.
How did you connect with JCI when you moved to the UK?
Honestly through the internet……
When I first arrived in the UK in 2003 things were very hard for me, I really had to start again from scratch, like a school leaver, but once things improved and I was more settled I realised I missed my JCI family. With a small amount of searching on the internet I reached out in 2010 to the then Senate Chairman Marretta Coleman who encouraged me to attend my first UK Senate weekend in St David’s. Once again both my wife Dominique (who is also a Senator) and I were blown away by the openness and welcome we received, it was just like I had never left. Once again I was hooked and got involved, slowly at first but attending more & more events each year till I was elected to the Senate Council for 2014 and have/will attend every Senate Weekend in the UK this year, and have now been elected the British Senate Deputy Chairman for 2015.
What has JCI done for you professionally and personally?
This is a tough question, it’s so much – but to sum it up briefly I feel that it has made me a better citizen – I am more in tune with humanitarian affairs worldwide and in the work place I feel that the exposure JCI has given me during my younger years has stood me in good stead, making me a more rounded individual. My career has, without a doubt, developed due to the experiences I learnt in running projects and holding office within JCI. I have always loved the international fellowship of JCI, it also gave me a wife & best friend, and I can personally say I have friends in dozens of countries around the world, special people that I can share a bond with.
What resulted in you being awarded a Senatorship?
A Senatorship is a surprise, an honour, recognition as well as a status, I honestly don’t know what part of my career with JCI resulted in my award, I would like to believe a bit of it all – dedication, lots of spare time dedicated to service? Perhaps you tell me…
What does it mean to you to be a senator?
Firstly to be so honoured by your peers is a great buzz, you for sure don’t want to let the organisation down, so behave as a true JCI member.
Secondly to quote 4 lines of the JCI Creed would for me sum it up:
That the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations.
That service to humanity is the best work of life.
That earth’s great treasure lies in human personality.
That governments should be of laws rather than of man.
What do senators get up to?
Party, Party, Party – well that’s part of it!! Each year the British Senate Chairman will, with support from Senators, arrange a number of social events that will foster fellowship and the spirit of JCI – the coming together of Senators in friendship + social interaction = party!!
There is a serious side as well – at these functions there will usually be a Council meeting to conduct the business of Council, an Annual AGM to elect officers to Council and to encourage interaction with Senators from around the world but usually from the ASE (Association of Senators of Europe).
How can senators help JCI UK and its members?
It’s a fine line to balance help vs interference, and so Senators may appear aloof & distant – this is because (in my opinion) as soon as you say “when I was in JCI”, or any variation of that, you are not helping but directing, this is NOT what Senators are about. So what can we do to help?
Personally I believe we are a storehouse of history of the organisation, a group that questions can be asked (for information) and at times with the right briefing support at events like new members evenings & National Conventions where personal experiences can be shared to encourage people to join or stand for office, to be an inspiration.
The British Senate also sponsor the Best New Member allowing them some financial support to attend an international event to learn more about JCI.
Finally, and to support the “non-interference” point – the request, question, invite needs to come from JCI UK members, Chapter Presidents or the National Board, I strongly believe this is the best approach, and am positive if asked you will always find a Senator willing and able to help to the best of their ability.
What’s your best advice for JCI UK members?
Enjoy to the full your time with the organisation!! This is an unbelievable group of young and old(er) people, participate, party and enjoy, work hard and rest assured the time and effort will reap benefits – it has for me.
Thank you very much Peter for some really interesting and inspiring stories!
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Sarah Beckwith