Alan Kershaw - Lay Member on Council
Who you are how you got to where you are?
My name is Alan. I am greatly honoured to be appointed as the BDA’s first lay (i.e. independent) representative at its governing Council. Since early in 1983 I have worked in and with standards setting bodies across a range of professions in several sectors: healthcare, law, finance, science, property. These days I have a small portfolio of part-time appointments like this, working now about 90-100 days a year.
Why you wanted to be on BDA Council?
I have a huge respect for professionally qualified people; and the existence of strong and independent professions is, not to put too fine a point on it, a cornerstone of good democracy. I love the challenge of working with a new professional group, learning their values, aspirations and (some of) their vocabulary. Dietetics appeals specifically because, to me, what we put into our bodies massively influences our state of health; and there is an enormous job to be done in educating the public and guiding individuals in the face of infinitely creative activity by the food industry to ensure that attempts at regulation do not damage its profitability.
What is your role on Council?
Lay members are often defined in terms of what they are not: not qualified, not informed, not educated, not professional. In practice I see my role as that of critical friend - helping to broaden the perspective of the discussion, bringing ideas (and often reassurance) from experience elsewhere, preventing the debate from turning in on itself, and occasionally asking a question which is stupid enough to be important.
What are the aims/objectives of the board/your role?
I want to see a united profession with its reputation constantly maintained and enhanced, to the benefit of the public and of its members. Everything the Board does should be tested against that aim.
Who inspires you (dietetically and non-dietetically) and why?
Non-Dietetically, my perfect dinner party guests would be (as they say, in no particular order) Sir David Attenborough, obviously; Dame Judi Dench, obviously; and Sir Alex Ferguson, maybe not so obviously. The anecdotes would be unstoppable, and I would learn a lot.
Dietetically - not sure yet - but I am an enthusiastic cook taking full advantage of the vast range of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables I can find in the wonderfully diverse shops around my north London home. I’m sure my colleagues on the Board will be a great source of inspiration.
I have already found the Board members to be committed, engaged and passionate about the standing of their profession. There is a great role for dietitians in the modern world, where the focus on good food, and food issues, has rarely been so intense, nor so important.