An introduction from Julie

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Julie has been a trustee of CHIPS since 2018 and, in January 2021, additionally assumed the role of Chair of Trustees. We asked her to share a little of her background and experience with CHIPS so far.

I am delighted and honoured to take over from Elfrida as Chair of Trustees, and even more delighted she has agreed to stay as Spiritual Advisor.

Like many of you, I have really appreciated Elfrida’s wisdom and her ability to patiently and prayerfully explain the scriptural basis to CHIPS’ work. She has also provided invaluable mentorship to me in my role as a CHIPS Trustee. Elfrida’s new role will enable her to continue to share her gifts with us and this also maintains our close connection to the Calvocoressi family and to the founding ideals of Elfrida’s late husband, Roy.

To tell you a little about who I am – I am wife to Pat and mum to Jonathan and Erin and step mum to Matthew. My early Christian experiences were attending our local Baptist church and the influence of my Methodist maternal grandparents. During my 20’s and 30’s, I had a more nomadic relationship with the church, including Anglican, Methodist, a Methodist and Anglican ecumenical project and even the Scottish Brethren.

I am now happily settled in the Catholic church; I ‘converted’ when Pat and I married, I am a Reader and for the last 3 years have supported our young people’s confirmation programme as a Catechist. At heart, though, I remain an ecumenist.

My professional background is in human resources and in 2016, I set up my own business – Cornerstone HR Consultancy Ltd – providing interim HR project leadership, HR consultancy and coaching, focusing on transition and transformation.

My interest in peacemaking was sparked many, many years ago. My ‘O’ level history syllabus included what was known as ‘The Irish Question’ and we studied the historical origin of the conflict between the English and Irish and between Protestant and Catholic right up to the 1970s. Our course ended on a hopeful note, with the birth of the ‘Women for Peace’ movement, which later became known as ‘Community of Peace People, or simply ‘Peace People’. Aged 15, I was inspired by these women who put aside their political and religious differences to work together for peace.

Fast forward to 2000: I moved to Guildford and joined our local Catholic church. I spotted a short article in the Parish magazine, inviting people interested in peace and peacemaking to a CHIPS seminar. I telephoned the contact number, spoke to Margaret Davies and having encountered Margaret’s warmth, enthusiasm and friendliness found myself signing up not just for the seminar but also joining the local Guildford CHIPS supporters group – comprising Margaret, Mike Rigby, John Harrap and me.

Roy initially (and ironically) dubbed us ‘The Guildford Four’! We outgrew the nickname, as we have two other permanent members – Tine Jaeger and Carole Eady – and we have welcomed various visitors along the way! We continue to meet to this day, and our friendship and fellowship around our common goal of supporting CHIPS has been a great blessing in my life. If you live in the Guildford area and would like to join us, please do get in touch!

I became a Trustee of CHIPS in 2018, working with my fellow trustees – Elfrida, Zac Egau, Stuart Murray Williams and, until last year Eric Read, as well as our Co-Directors, Paul Maxwell-Rose and Andrew Jackson. It has been a real privilege to work with this team, discussing strategy, overseeing our finances, ensuring good governance and supporting the team on HR-related tasks such as recruitment.

As I take on the role of Chair, I am also delighted to welcome Dee Spurdle as our newly appointed Trustee. I know she will bring tremendous knowledge, experience, and energy to our board. I also very much look forward to meeting many more of you, our supporters, partners, volunteers and advisors. As Chair I am so thankful for your generous and much-valued support that has enabled the continuation and development of our Ghana and Brixton projects.

2020 has been dominated by Covid-19, the awful suffering and loss of life, the trauma of separation and loneliness and the fear of economic disaster. Thankfully, as we enter 2021, we can now be optimistic that the new vaccines will bring an element of closure to the pandemic.

However, vaccines cannot rebuild communities nor can they heal the division, inequality, and violent polarisation of views so present in our societies. At this pivotal moment in our history, we must look to the Prince of Peace to guard our hearts and minds, and to guide us in this work of peacemaking to which we have all been called.

Read or download our latest impact report here!