National volunteer week - Meet Graham Binns 1. Graham, please can you tell us a little about your background? After 2-years working for one of the big 4 banks, I joined what was Bristol & West Building Society. After a series of "career moves", we settled in Cornwall as a family with 2 young girls and stayed until divorce came along. After progressing through to Area and then Regional Manager, I joined the senior team based in Bristol - by then we were Bank of Ireland Mortgages. I reported to the MD and ran the Change & Support functions for a successful business - making a £200m profit at our peak. I remarried in 2004 and took redundancy in 2010, buying The Best of British Deli in Bath which we ran as a very successful partnership for 3 years. A few more years as a management consultant followed until I retired in 2019. My skills (I think are varied). I ran a team of around 40 people including change Project Managers so have a feel for both working in and managing a large team of various talents. Getting the best out of people and building strong and lasting relationships would be up there on the skills list as would be operating and negotiating at very senior levels. I'm a good problem solver, welcoming change and an ideas person - I feel I am empathetic, a good listener and a trusted friend. 2. Why did you want to volunteer for Bath Rugby Foundation? Rugby has been in my blood since moving to Wales at the age of 9. I'd never heard of it let alone played it but soon got involved at school and then started playing senior rugby at 16. My first season was playing wing outside an ex-welsh and British Lion and I've very much been in love with the game ever since. Having had 16 years playing, I'm now a ST holder at Bath and BRF gives me an opportunity to give something back using the game as the vehicle for that. I've still got a few touches from my playing days which helps out with the sporting coaching session, although the game has changed massively since my playing days. 3. How do you feel when you volunteer for BRF? Having done some initial research pre-retirement, I think the ethos of the Foundation is pretty close to my own and I really do feel at home on my days with the Foundation. Its informal enough to be flexible when I need that (with an elderly Mum its important) but I'm blown away by the commitment and professionalism of the people I work with as well as the sheer determination of the students. Being just a small part of, what for them, is a life changing journey. This feels so special and I must have 2 or 3 conversations each week when I talk to others about the Foundation and some of the successes that I see. 4. What have been your highlights of volunteering with us? Some of the highlights for me are based around the successes I see the students achieve through their hard work and determination. The way that Harry, for example, approaches each task with determination and plays sport with a massive smile on his face. Being told by one student that I remind him of his loving Grandad was a big plus and being told (even today) that my lesson last week was sick (I'm assuming that's a compliment) gives me great satisfaction. One of the students had a meeting with a Bath businessman last week and was very anxious ahead of the meeting. I spent some time with him beforehand, calming him down and talking about the things he might be asked or would want to ask. I hear it went brilliantly and he's been asked back to spend some time there. He came up and thanked me today for the chat last week! From a personal perspective, being fit enough to run around with the students and even voted MOM a few weeks ago at 61 is up there with any on-field achievement whilst playing seriously! Being picked 1st by Bailey the other week on his touch rugby team was a massive compliment! 5. What do you personally want to achieve during your time as a Volunteer/Trustee? Having retired now, I'm not looking to achieve anything job wise but would be looking to ensure that I make a positive contribution to the journeys and progress, of each and every student that would give me huge satisfaction. If in the future there's a vacancy for a BRF Trustee position and it's felt that I have the skills needed, I'd be up for taking this step and increasing my commitment on a voluntary basis. 6. How has Bath Rugby Foundation changed your life? This is where it gets brutally honest. That divorce I mentioned - got very messy and I lost contact with my children for a long time, certainly not what I wanted. Working with the students does, in some respect, help to fill the void left when my own children chose not to see me. Volunteering at BRF has helped me come to terms with the situation with my kids in some respect as it has meant I've been able to think through why they reacted as they did at the time and what they might have been trying to rationalise. So, the way I look back at this period has certainly changed for the better. I'm fitter that I was and mentally - I feel better about myself look forward to each Monday / Tuesday with enthusiasm and am cheered each day by interactions with the students and their continued successes. Being treated, by them, with respect as well as friendship means a huge amount. Click on the button below to find out more about becoming a BRF volunteer. Become a Volunteer Tomorrow, we'll be sharing the volunteering story and journey of the wonderful Evie Longshaw in celebration of National Volunteer Week.