Ronald J Swanson
Manager at Ayrshire Hospice lottery
BA (Hons) Management and Tourism (First Class) 2011
Tell us about your time at the University
I liked that UWS was a modern university. I joined in 2007 when the merger with Bell College had just happened and I saw great investment in the university facilities over my four years of study. After attending some university open days, including the Paisley Campus, I liked the look of the UWS Business School and decided that UWS was the choice for me.
Favourite memories include meeting new people throughout my degree, some of whom I am still friends with today. I was also honoured to be awarded the Business School Court Medal in my BA year.
At graduation I remember listening to the Vice Chancellor of the university giving a speech. He was speaking about the great careers that we would go on to have but he said one thing that has stuck with me “Remember your families and remember your communities” and this still rings true to the work that I am involved in today.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
After graduating in 2011 I volunteered at Centrestage Music Theatre in Kilmarnock and was later offered employment. I worked alongside the CEO, Fiona McKenzie in applying for grant funding for Centrestage’s associated charity, Centrestage Communities.
In 2013 I completed an Advanced Singing Certificate in Singing with Trinity College London and passed with Distinction. I was later presented with an Exhibition Award for gaining one of the highest Distinction marks that Trinity College London had seen for an Advanced Certificate in Singing during 2013.
In 2013 I also applied for a job in Fundraising Management at the Ayrshire Hospice. I was successful and I’ve been at the hospice ever since. The hospice provides care to adult patients who have life limiting illnesses and look after families too. Also in 2013, Ayrshire Hospice formed a formal partnership with UWS and became the first University Hospice in Scotland which is a link that I’m very proud of as a UWS alumnus.
I completed a joint degree in Management and Tourism at UWS and I still apply models that I learned at UWS to my everyday work particularly models surrounding leadership and change management that I covered during Honours year. I also still apply the Tourism side of my degree as we aim to offer quality customer service to all of our fabulous supporters at the hospice.
I manage the Ayrshire Hospice lottery. As part of my role I ensure that our society lottery adheres to the compliance requirements of the Gambling Commission and report on our lottery statistics every day. I also manage community fundraising and our team supports the fantastic people across Ayrshire who hold their own “in aid of” events or take part in sponsored challenges in aid of the hospice. I get to work for a wonderful local charity and meet the most remarkable people in my everyday work. At present the hospice needs to fundraise around £12,000 per day to keep all hospice services running which is an exciting challenge and very rewarding. We are so lucky to have the support of people in Ayrshire and I love the sense of drive that my job creates.
In 2013 I was elected as a Trustee onto the Board of Centrestage Communities, another local charity who deliver arts based activities to many hard-to-reach groups in communities throughout Ayrshire including people living with dementia, people with additional support needs and rehabilitation for offenders and ex-offenders.
When not working I love to perform and do so regularly at Centrestage in Kilmarnock. I love to sing whenever I can especially if it’s musical theatre or singing works from the great Robert Burns and I like to sing at Burns suppers each year.
Earlier this year I recorded my vocals on a CD album entitled “Music of the Night” to raise funds in aid of the Ayrshire Hospice. The CD contains fifteen tracks featuring songs from musical theatre ranging from the 1950s to 2010s, Scottish material inspired by Robert Burns and some reflective ballads. The album was released three weeks ago with £1,000 raised in aid of the hospice so far which is fantastic. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to do a fundraising activity that combines my two passions of my work and music.
If you could offer one piece of advice or top tip to current students what would it be?
Believe in yourself. I’ve only got to where I am today through the encouragement and support of others and most importantly believing in myself. I’m a great believer that the harder you work, the luckier you become. However I would say to make some time for yourself each week. Yes, life can be hectic through studying plus work and family commitments but take some time out – one to two hours per week – to do something that you enjoy and this can make all the difference to achieving a work life balance. For me it’s performing but for other people it might be playing a favourite sport – reward yourself.
What is that drives you on in your professional life?
There’s a great quote from Winston Churchill:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
I’m so lucky in my career that I get to make a living while giving back to the community at the same time. I’m very passionate about community and Ayrshire is a fantastic place with fantastic people. I love the work that I do. I often refer to this quote and remember that I’ve made the right choices in my career.