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Coke, Red Bull and triathlons – meet our new CEO

04/01/2018

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It’s now a few months since John Church became only Age Action’s third CEO in the organisation’s 25 year history. We sat down with him to find out a little more about the man now leading the country’s main ageing organisation

John Church, CEO of Age Action

1. Can you start off by telling us a little about your background before you joined Age Action?

Well before joining Age Action Ireland I spent over 16 years in the private sector during very different times than we see now. I enjoyed my early career start with the Bank of Ireland Group before getting my real break with the Coca Cola Company, cutting my teeth in the tough commercial world of food and drink retailing.

My move to become Commercial Director with the Red Bull distributor was a creative and fun time and it’s also where I started to get real experience of managing a lot of people.

Bringing all this commercial experience to Arthritis Ireland in 2005 helped us to make a real impact on real people’s lives over a 12 year period and I have to say that gave me more satisfaction than anything before it. 

2. Do you think your time with Arthritis Ireland helps you understand the issues affecting older people and the wider charity sector?

Absolutely, without it I don’t think I would be able to fully appreciate the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys that are often ignored, of growing older.

Of course, I had the pleasure of helping families and young children with arthritis to live better lives as well, but the largest proportion of our audience was older people.

The charity sector is facing very different challenges now than when I joined in 2005, with new regulations, governance codes and data protection laws challenging all of us. I’m really encouraged to see that Age Action has taken the lead in many of these and taken the responsibility to ensure we are transparent and accountable. 

First impressions

3. You’ve been here a few months now, what have been your first impressions?

I think my first impression has been the hard working nature and commitment of the staff to the cause, which is an important starting point.

In our Care & Repair and Getting Started programmes we have some absolute gems of services that are helping countless older people every day.

I was well aware of the excellent reputation we had for our advocacy work but I’m now also beginning to appreciate the strong supportive community we have in our volunteers such as the Glór groups, our knitters and the U3A network, which is a real asset to the organisation. 

4. What do you see as your priorities for Age Action over the next couple of years?

Well, one of our key priorities is no different to the hundreds of other charities out there, and that’s raising unrestricted income to expand our services.

We have made some good inroads in our fundraising activities and grown our number of stores over the last year. I think there are also real opportunities to engage more with corporate partners and show them the fantastic work we’re doing.

With an ageing population, however, we must continue to ensure we are still relevant and over the coming months we will be preparing ourselves to ensure we do this. 

5. And finally, what do you like to do when you’re not running Age Action?

I’ve always been a keen sports fan and used to play rugby to a competitive level but these days I just watch in awe! I’ve recently taken up Triathlon and find it’s fantastic for all round fitness so I’ve signed up for the Half-Ironman next year in Dublin.

But to be honest it’s spending time with my five sons that’s certainly the most enjoyable and rewarding time of all.

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  • Keep out of the heat. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out, wear a hat and keep to the shade as much as possible. It’s very important to use sun screen of at least factor 15.
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  • Drink lots of fluid – even if you’re not thirsty. Limit drinks with caffeine (like coffee and cola) and avoid alcohol as it can increase dehydration.
  • Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruit as they contain a lot of water.

Dehydration and overheating

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Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

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If you have any of these symptoms you must:

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If you’re having difficulty, or your symptoms persist for several hours, seek medical advice. Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated - but it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heatstroke include hot and red skin, headaches, nausea, intense thirst, raised temperature, confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.

So if you or someone else shows symptoms:

  • call 999 immediately or 112 if you are in the European Union (you can call 112 from a mobile for free). If you have a community or personal alarm press the button on your pendant to call for help.
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Further information

If you live alone consider asking a relative or friend to visit or phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.

  • If you know a neighbour who lives alone, check they are ok.
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  • If you have breathing problems or a heart condition your symptoms might get worse when it’s very hot.
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Summer Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Summer Raffle. We're so grateful to everyone who participated and who raised more than 18,000 euro to support older people in Ireland.

This year's winners were:

1st Prize winner €1,500

S Deegan, Dublin

2nd Prize winner €1,000

A Parks, Dublin

3rd Prize winner €500

M Dangerfield, Dublin

And the winner of our Sellers Prize was:

Sellers Prize €100

M Kane, Galway, €100

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference.