It's great to sometimes get the opportunity to watch the penny drop, as they see how their lives can be different.
Wiston’s Lodge staff team is led by Jonny Sutherland. Jonny has been Managing Director since April 2016, and was Programmes Manager from 2003 while Wiston Lodge was still part of the YMCA’s portfolio. He helped to design the activity programmes, organised instructors and oversaw their work.
Before he came to Wiston Lodge, Jonny worked for the Airborne Initiative with high-tariff young offenders. The youth groups who visit Wiston Lodge may not be quite so challenging, but Jonny finds it equally rewarding to be able to effect a change in kids’ lives in a relatively short time.
“I started off my professional career as a fabric technologist working in the supply chain for Marks & Spencer. This was mostly about keeping the customer happy and a whole lot of problem solving. After some retraining I gained experience in outdoor education, mostly working with young adults and specialising with kids who were a little harder to reach.
“I first freelanced for Wiston Lodge in 2002, running a mixed bag of programmes from corporate to tots. I moved onto the estate in the 2003 and managed to get a job the same year. The obvious potential of Wiston Lodge and the opportunity to create something was the main motivator. I had no intention of staying so long here, but the variety and absolutely no opportunity for boredom kept my interest up.
“In 2016 I was fortunate enough to be made Managing Director. It’s a bit more desk orientated than I’m designed for, but I have a great team around me who understand the need to go out and engage with guests, as an alternative to thumping keyboards all day.
“Most people come through the door a little hesitant. They are encouraged to let things happen and explore opportunities. Wiston Lodge is one of those rare places where nothing is forced. Once guests feel happy that they are not going to be shoved into anything, they become more confident exploring their own abilities. My role in this shared experience keeps me coming back for more.”