NAME: Alison Elsmore
HOME: Overlooking the village green in Weston
FAMILY: Husband David, children Stephen and Libby and three grandchildren
OCCUPATION: Executive business manager
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
I am Stafford born and bred. We lived in the Rising Brook area and I went to Silkmore School and then to Rising Brook (now Stafford Sports College).
WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
It was very happy. My dad worked for the post office and I enjoyed some good times.
TELL US A CHILDHOOD MEMORY.
I used to swim for the county and I can remember when I was at Rising Brook school I had to do a speed trial. The school had an open air swimming pool then and it was in the autumn. I had to dive straight in and start swimming. I have never jumped into something so cold.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU LEFT SCHOOL?
I had no idea what I wanted to do. I got a job working at Lloyds Bank in Penkridge. It taught me a lot. When I had my children I started doing some accounting work. My husband had his own business so I did the accounts for that.
WHAT LED TO YOU WORKING IN SCHOOLS?
I was in the right place at the right time. I helped at Marshbrook First School in Penkridge while a staff member was having a hip replacement, but I’d never even thought about working in a school. I ended up becoming school secretary and really enjoyed it. I then worked at Tillington Manor Primary in Stafford for 12 years as secretary, then Barnfields. I later went to John Taylor in Barton-under-Needwood and came to Walton High School a year ago.
HOW DID YOUR JOB CHANGE?
The profession of school business manager has grown. Headteachers are not business people and the post of school secretary began to expand from looking after small pots of money to handling large budgets.
My background in banking certainly helps.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
There isn’t really a typical day as each one is different. It is a very challenging role. I manage the budget, which can be £6 million plus, have meetings with leadership managers, support staff, human resources and suppliers. I deal with a number of HR issues, such as return to work interviews, liaise with governors and do the PR for the school.
I manage the premises and present new initiatives to staff and parents. It is like running a business.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I am proud of the work I have done at Walton so far. When I first came here there were a lot of issues with the premises. The entrance and kitchens needed work. I helped to secure investment for a new kitchen and project managed the refurbishment of the entrance.
My other big passion is soroptimism. I have just ended my year as president of the Stafford group. I took on the role as I started here so it’s been a busy 12 months. I was president as the organisation celebrated 75 years and we raised £3,500 over the year, which is the most our group has ever raised. We did some important things, such as presenting a petition in Downing Street against domestic violence, advocacy work with the MP and recruiting more members. Soroptimism is all about empowering women and I really feel we helped to raise the profile of the club. I am really proud of the year.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE AIMS/AMBITIONS?
Walton is a wonderful place to work. It is a high achieving school but we work hard to get there. The focus is very much on the students. They are central to everything we do. I would love to see a sports hall here. There is currently a gym but a sports hall could also be used by the community as there is nothing like that in this area. It is likely to cost £1.75 million so it would be difficult to fund-raise for that. I’m looking at potential ways we could do it. Also, there is no dining hall and space is an issue so that is something I’m looking into, and I’d like to work more with our feeder primary schools. The reputation here is wonderful but to keep that you have to work hard.
HOBBIES: Soroptimism, walking, travel, gardening, cooking and my family.
FAVOURITE MUSIC: Classical, jazz, Motown and anything except opera.
FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Canada
FAVOURITE FOOD & DRINK: Lasagna & white wine spritzer
FAVOURITE NEWSPAPER: The Times, Saturday Telegraph and the Newsletter
FAVOURITE BOOK: Anything by Ken Follet
FAVOURITE PIN-UP: Steve McQueen
THINGS YOU LOVE/HATE: Family and my job/Bad manners and litter.