Of course, anyone else leaving a job would have some kind of leaving “do” before they depart, but as I left immediately before Christmas, it proved to be impossible to find a suitable venue that wasn’t already booked up by Christmas parties.
I had decided that I wanted to hold my own leaving celebration at the Adams Restaurant at New College Nottingham. This is partly because it is inexpensive and I have always had good food there in the past, but also because the staff there are students at the college who are training for careers in the hospitality industry.
The organisation of this meal proved to be something of a nightmare. This was due to me having to do it all by email; initially to my former work colleagues and the current custodians of the Nottingham Volunteer Coordinators’ Network. This took a little longer than I expected, but I had more than 20 initial expressions of interest in the meal. With a great deal of help from Sue, who still works at the place that I left, the menu was obtained from the restaurant and was circulated by email to everyone who had said that they wanted to come.
This is where the fun really started.
Some people didn’t get that initial email, others wanted to come who hadn’t responded initially and some of the people who showed initial interest dropped out. Although I had agreed that everyone would pre-order their meal, the deadline came and went with daily changes and additions as some people responded late and others had to be chased up by email.
On thursday night before the meal on Friday lunchtime, three people had not responded, so I had to send them an email saying that they couldn’t come. Even then, one of the three came along after Sue had phoned the restaurant on Friday morning.
Sue, a college staff member at Adams Restaurant, deserves a sainthood for the amount of messing about that she received at our hands.
So the great day finally arrived when 22 of us turned up at the restaurant. It was great to see so many of my former colleagues, both staff and volunteers from Nottingham CVS as well as a members of great team of people that I had worked with at Nottingham City Council’s Community Development Department and even a couple of people from voluntary organisations that I had worked with.
Some surprise was expressed that I now wear shirts and trousers rather than Tee shirts and jeans and that my beard had been trimmed down to a very human-looking length. However, Sue has worked hard in both Debenhams and the House of Fraser to make sure that I look suitable managerial, although I decided to trim the beard all by myself.
The meal itself was, for me, up to the usual high standard that I had come to expect from the students at the Adams Restaurant, although there were a few problems with some people’s main meals arriving a little late. This may have taken the gloss off the experience for a few people, but my own view is that we had made a significant contribution to any confusion with a string of changes to the pre-orders. Anyway, mistakes are made in all walks of life, even in restaurants that would have charged us for more than we were charged on Friday.
I refused to allow anything to put a blot on the day for me because it was great to meet with so many people with whom I had worked for a long time and to feel that there remains some respect and even affection between us. I am very pleased that I am remembered a month on and that people wanted to come along to this lunch.
I wrote at the start of this post that I was drawing a line under my time working in Nottingham. Perhaps that phrase will turn out to be a long way wide of the mark. I still live in Nottingham, Sue still works with the people that I used to work with and I have no idea what the future might bring in terms of any of us working together in the future.
For many years I have joked that the voluntary sector isn’t really very big, but that a few of move round a lot and meet each other in different circumstances. I feel sure that this is true and that this lunch marks a transition rather than and ending.
I’m also booked to go back to Adams Restaurant in March when a few of us from South Derbyshire pay a “real” work visit to Nottingham.
Here are a couple of the pictures that Sue took on Friday.