It’s time to meet another one of our Senators. Today I have the pleasure of introducing Elaine Senior from my home chamber JCI Rotherham.
Name: Elaine Senior
Senator number: 55872
When did you first join JCI and which chamber were/are you a member of?
I first joined Rotherham Junior Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 1986
Why did you join JCI?
Well there I was, at work, dressed as a pig when a customer I knew said ‘that costume would be brilliant for our visit to the children’s ward at the hospital this Christmas, can we borrow it?’ The costume in question was the NatWest pig – Sir Nathaniel Westminster – and, of course, as a valuable piece of marketing we couldn’t just let anyone have it. I asked a bit more and found out that this organisation that Peter belonged to did a project where they visited those children who wouldn’t be going home for Christmas and handed out comics, sweets and other goodies all while dressed up. They took an instamatic photo of each child, with their favourite character(s) and stuck it in a card for their parents.
I asked the bank if I could take part, using the pig suit and was given the green light. On that fateful Saturday afternoon, I met up with the 5 or 6 other members of this weird group I’d never heard of and we did our thing around the hospital. Two things to say about that day – firstly I’m glad I had a huge foam head on – they couldn’t see my tears as I sat with these critically ill children; secondly that I met 6 people that day who I consider to be lifelong friends, people who have seen me grow and blossom in to the confident person you all know (the other one, sadly has since passed away).
Of course, they also did a marketing job on me and invited me to their next meeting – I went along and got hooked.
Elain visiting Yorkshire Regional Dinner in Boston in 2011.
Do you recall the moment you were awarded a Senatorship and can you explain why you were nominated for a Senatorship?
Vividly! I was Regional Group Chairman for Yorkshire and Rotherham JCC were hosting the Regional Conference. We’d had a great day – amazing speakers and training sessions and a wonderful banquet. It came to the Awards and my two Awards managers – Nigel Bentley and Sarah Whittle – were doing a grand job, my only duty being to hand out the relevant trophy with a hug and kiss. I’d been told that Sarah had been nominated for a Presidential Recognition pin and, to keep it secret from her, the certificate was wrapped up. In due course, the Deputy National President, Keith Bottomley was invited to the podium to present this certificate – to Sarah. I was holding the wrapped certificate as he started to speak.During his commendation I kept thinking, ah haven’t we done some similar things – as indeed we had done – and then, very slowly, it began to dawn on me that he wasn’t talking about Sarah at all. I glanced at her, at Nigel, at my (then) partner, and at a few others – they were all grinning and my partner, Stuart was getting me in focus on his camera.
When Keith got to the high point and announced my Senatorship, I was completely, absolutely and irretrievably dumb-struck. My acceptance speech went along the lines of ‘oh, um, ah, err well, um, ah, whaat? Errrrr, oh’ until finally Stuart said ‘sit down, shut up!’ and I complied.
You’d have to ask the members who nominated me, but I guess it because I’ve always done whatever I could, to the best of my abilities; I’ve stretched myself time and again in JCI; I’ve done things I never thought possible and tried to do it cheerfully. I had attended local, regional, national and international events; I’d held 3 previous roles at Regional level and all the Council roles within JCI Rotherham. I’m there when needed and will always have a go.
What does it mean to you to be a senator?
To be honoured by my peers was an incredible sensation. For me, it means that I’ve done enough to be recognised, that people – not just any people, my friends – appreciate what I’ve done and are prepared to make that public and that I’ve now reached the point when I can support and mentor others. It was by no means the end of my Chamber career, almost like a new beginning.
What do senators get up to?
There are Senate events most months and we also attend Regional, National and International events. Most National & International conferences have a Senate programme where we are taken off on trips or visits. Our own events vary from a weekend walking in the Dales; weekends visited places like Whitby; factory tours; attending plays and theatres and so on – all very social.
Most Senate events will include a Senate Breakfast. Folklore has it that two Senators, attending a conference in Australia, spent the whole evening catching up and missed the gala dinner. Eventually, at some unearthly hour they made their way to the kitchens of the hotel and asked if there was any food available. The staff were starting breakfast but were also conscious that there was some champagne and steak left over from the night before. They offered the two guys a choice and they elected to have the full cooked brekkie, with a piece of steak on the side, swilled down with a glass (or two) of champagne – the Senate Breakfast was born!
All this is well and good, and what we also try to do is support our local Chambers and JCI UK in any practical way we can – attending events, presenting training sessions, helping with funding/sponsorship etc. Many Senators also train at the National and International events.
How can senators help JCI UK and its members?
As I’ve mentioned, there are many active Senators who will help out at the drop of a hat – speakers, trainers, factory visits, sponsorship, attending dinners to boost the numbers, providing links in to the business and civic communities, allowing the JCI members to use their networks or contacts. We’ll turn our hands to most things – without taking over! Just ask.
What is/was your job/career/profession/business?
When I started my JCI career, I was in local branch banking; because of the train the trainer events I attended with JCI, I became a trainer for two periods of time within the Bank and now I am a self-employed training consultant.
Did JCI have an impact on this?
Oh, yes. I can, hand on heart, say that I would not be where I am today without the experiences, lessons learnt and friendships made in JCI. Being a part of this organisation gave my skills, confidence and a motivation which I did not have before.
What’s your proudest JCI/Senator achievement?
Meeting the Queen and Prince Phillip when they visited Rotherham – as local President I was invited to be part of the Civic welcome committee. Standing with the Presidents of the Chamber of Commerce, the Round Table, the Rotary Clubs and the Chamber of Trade I can still hear Prince Phillip saying ‘Oh, look – it’s the ‘chain-gang’, whoff, whoff’. Also seeing my home Chamber relaunch after 10 years of being without a true ‘home’ – I was delighted to be involved and be able to offer support to the team.
Tell us something crazy/dangerous/inspiring/unusual you have done:
White water rafting – as Regional Chairman I was told that I had to attend every Regional event and take part. I have to say I have never been so scared in all my life.
And finally do you have any advice for our current JCI UK members?
Yes – commit to any task you are asked to perform and take on roles, challenges and tasks which you wouldn’t ordinarily get to do; learn from everything you do; never use JCI to replace success at work – use it instead to build success outside the organisation – remember to blow your own trumpet when you’ve succeeded in something; your boss won’t know unless you tell them.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Fiona Silvester