Claire Holmes - Northern Ireland Constituency Council Member

Council Claire HolmesWho you are and how you got to where you are:

I live and work in Northern Ireland and retired from the NHS in August 2014. I am not yet ready to stop being a dietitian however and am continuing to work in a freelance capacity. Most of my NHS experience has been in community and health improvement roles - I spent the last 10 years leading the Community Food and Nutrition Team in my local health trust and working with community nutrition education programmes.

Why you wanted to be on BDA Council:

I have served on the NI Board for quite a few years and thought that I would just step down when I retired. Then it was put to me that I might like to consider standing for the position of NI Constituency Council Member on BDA Council. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I gave the idea a lot of thought however. I feel very proud of being a dietitian and had hoped to be able to continue to promote the profession even though I was no longer employed in the health service. So I decided to stand and was elected. It seemed a good idea at the time ….. I’ll let you know if it works out!

Your role on Council:

I am the Northern Ireland Constituency Council Member and chair the Northern Ireland Board. I also ask the stupid questions at Council – that’s because I feel really ignorant about how the BDA works and the role of council but I hope that, with time, I’ll get the hang of how it all works.

The aims/objectives of your role:

To represent the profession in Northern Ireland at Council, and feedback from council to the Northern Ireland Board. I’d like to fulfil this role with some degree of competency but have a hard act to follow.

Who inspires you (dietetically and non-dietetically):

One of the greatest influences on my professional life was my first line manager, Peggy McCloskey with whom I worked at the Ulster Hospital from 1977-1980. She taught me to see patients as people who need help to meet their dietary needs in their day to day life, which doesn’t usually fit neatly into the ‘text books’. The art of negotiation, clear explanation, empathising, creative problem solving, reaching a satisfactory compromise – useful skills I started to learn under Peggy’s direction. I couldn’t have had a better start to my professional life.

Today, it’s the ‘more mature’ achievers who inspire me. From Nancy Birtwhistle winning the Great British Bake Off to Sir Robin Knox finishing third (in his class) in the Route du Rhum yacht race (that’s sailing single-handed across the Atlantic), there are plenty of us over 60s who are still fit, active and contributing to society. I’d like to think I still have something to offer.

And finally...

It’s interesting seeing how BDA Council works, finding out what being a director of the BDA means and meeting the other Council members – such a variety of backgrounds and experience. I enjoyed my first Council meeting more than I expected – though I still find the teleconferences a bit daunting!

You can contact Claire by email: nireland@bda.uk.com.