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News > Trustees Week – “You will get so much more out of this than you will ever put in.”

Trustees Week – “You will get so much more out of this than you will ever put in.”

Photo of trustee Paul Denton

Paul Denton, 51, became a trustee for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland in 2021. He brings to the role more than 30 years’ experience in financial services, but in Trustees Week, Paul reveals that his motivation for becoming a trustee was a very personal one. 

Turning 50 often brings a moment of reflection in a person’s life. For some, it might herald a mid-life crisis. For Paul Denton, it was an opportunity to give something back after a successful career.

Paul, 51, has spent more than 30 years in the financial services industry, gathering a wealth of experience at such institutions as RBS, NatWest and the Coop Bank. He is currently CEO of the Scottish Building Society.

But it was the 18 months he spent as managing director of Coop Funeralcare that gave him the most pause for thought.

He says: “I was briefly working within an industry that’s clearly not the NHS but equally it’s not filled with the most highly paid individuals. I was humbled by the fact people can live their lives for a purpose rather than trying to climb the corporate ladder.

“So, when I was turning 50, I had in my head the rationale that I wanted to give something back. I became a trustee of the Chartered Bank Institute to give something back to the industry that has served me well for my whole career.

“I had seen a post on LinkedIn that Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland were looking for trustees, and it just wouldn’t leave. I see thousands of posts on social media, but this one stuck with me.

“My dad had a heart attack during the pandemic, and fortunately he has survived and thrived. My late father-in-law had COPD, so I had in my mind that this charity was dealing with two conditions that had affected people close to me.”

Playing to his strenghts

Paul applied and became a trustee in July 2021, a position confirmed at the charity’s AGM in November last year. Serving on the finance committee since his appointment, he will become chair of that vital committee when its current chair, Neil Pirie, stands down at this year’s AGM.

He says: “Obviously being on the finance committee plays completely to my strengths. But that’s also the strength of the trustees. Everyone brings their own expertise and experience, and that’s real diversity and inclusion.

“If everyone comes from the same background, with the same line of thinking, you’re going to have a very weak board. Yes, we need lawyers and accountants and people who understand governance and legislation. Equally we need people who know exactly what the organisation does and what it stands for.”

Rewarding thing to do

For Paul, the time spent getting to know the work that Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland does with and for service users has been the most rewarding aspect of trusteeship.

He says: “I sat in on a Zoom call with a support group in Perthshire, and it was inspirational. I saw my father-in-law’s experience reflected in those people.

“I’ve seen training delivered to stroke nurses. I visited the Maryhill Hub to see the amazing preventative work they’re doing, and I’ve popped into the shops to see how they operate.

“All of that has given me more insight and passion for the charity than wading through accounts or hearing projected financials.

“Meeting the people who make the organisation what it is and seeing the people whose lives are helped immeasurably by that work – that’s why I became a trustee.

“My advice to anyone thinking of becoming a trustee but maybe worried they don’t have the time or the experience is to just do it. You will get so much more out of this than you will ever put in.”

To find out more about our Board of Trustees, please visit:

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