This simple title seems entirely fitting for a piece which is not just about our philosophy as a company but also touches on a rather poignant family issue which affected one member of our team during the pandemic. I’m sure it’s a covid-related story that will resonate with many families out there.
I’ve mentioned in an earlier piece that Jane Preston founded Riverside with a strong emphasis on family values; that everyone in the team is important, will be respected and strongly supported and whose voice will be listened to. The Senior Management Group are committed to demonstrating that ethos. We absolutely want people to feel valued and all our team members to feel that this is a great company to work for, not just because of the interesting and valuable work we do developing our Apprentices but also because we are a good employer.
So we have introduced a couple of initiatives recently that we know are much appreciated by our team. Firstly, we have increased leave allowances for all our staff as a thank you for working so hard in a difficult covid-ravaged climate. Also we are just about to introduce a salary sacrifice scheme to enable any of the team to purchase a new electric car tax free. It represents a significant saving plus it’s another positive way to help slow down climate change, which is something we are passionate about too.
So how can we gauge whether our staff are happy here? We do formal personnel reviews to capture feedback but often it’s the sense check you get with random acts of thoughtfulness. A classic example occurred just before Christmas when one of our lovely coaches, who modestly wishes to remain anonymous, brought in a Christmas hamper of goodies for the office-based team to share as a personal thank you for their ongoing support behind the scenes. I know how much the team appreciated the gesture and it’s typical of the spirit within the company.
Family matters – Kirsty Smith is one of our recent recruits to the Learning & Development coaching team and she is always upbeat and so positive. So it came as something of a shock to learn that her husband Chris was made redundant from his job as a pilot during the first lockdown. The fleet of aircraft he flew (Boeing 747s) were retired due to costs. What follows is Kirsty’s own story.
It was an incredibly difficult time with Chris fearing his beloved career could be over. However, he didn’t rest on his laurels. He home schooled the children, took part in a geophysical survey, helped out family members with various jobs and even delivered groceries for Tesco. It was extremely tough on him mentally especially because it looked as though the aviation industry seemed to be pretty doomed.
However, out of the blue, last August he got the call to return to Virgin Atlantic and started his training to fly a different aircraft (Airbus A330). After weeks of training, Chris flew a plane for the first time in nearly two years on the 13th December from Heathrow to Orlando. It was very emotional but also pretty great as Chris got to reconnect with all his colleagues and regular hotel staff. Here’s a photo of the team at their hotel in Florida before flying back for Xmas.
Kirsty explains that they are just starting to get back to ‘normal’ and feel very fortunate that Chris was able to resume his career and they know that many people weren’t so lucky. She remains incredibly proud of Chris for bearing up so well in really challenging circumstances
Some of the Riverside team shared in Kirsty’s joy and pride at watching Chris take off on that inaugural flight via the live radar and gave him a virtual wave as he flew over Hereford. Marvellous!
We are delighted to report Kirsty’s own words from that moment; it made her ‘feel like a genuine part of this inspiring and wonderful work family’.
I think I speak on behalf of the Riverside Senior Management Group in saying that we are so proud to hear that but even more pleased that Kirsty and Chris and their lovely children are enjoying something approaching normal life again.