Vicky Worthington, ADUK Developement Manager.
Dogs for Good CEO, Peter Gorbing recently stepped down as ADUK’s Chair, although we are pleased to report that he isn’t leaving the ADUK Board altogether! I don’t need much of an excuse to pretend to be a journalist, so I took the opportunity to interview Peter about ADUK and what’s next for him.
Everyone you speak to about Peter always remarks on how generous he is with his incredible knowledge about assistance dogs, so I was keen to know more about he first get involved with this world.
Peter: I came into the field very much by accident. I joined Dogs for Good (then known as Dogs for the Disabled) in 1995 as their first Fundraising Manager. The charity was tiny and to be honest, I saw the opportunity as a bit of a ‘stepping stone’ to get into the charity world – and I’m still here!
I secured a huge grant from the National Lottery in its first year and that enabled us to buy and develop our own centre in Banbury. At that point I became the General Manager and later the Chief Executive. When I joined, we only trained mobility assistance dogs for adults, so developing a whole range of new services has been very rewarding and interesting.
Rebranding the charity in 2015 as ‘Dogs for Good’ was also a huge project, but one that went surprisingly smoothly, although it did give me many sleepless nights!
I joined the ADUK board when I became the Chief Executive sometime around 2000. It was great to spend time with others working in the same field.
As we emerge from what has been a particularly challenging 18 months, I am keen to find out what the biggest challenge Peter faced during his time as Chair was, and what his proudest achievement is.
Peter: Appointing a Development Manager during a pandemic. I really could not imagine how that would be possible, but we did it and ended with a great set of candidates and a superb appointment (don’t blush Vicky)! [I did]
Once we decided to appoint a Development Manager, the board worked hard to clarify our aims and objectives and to create a longer-term strategy. We had never really done that in any formal way before, partly because we knew it would be hard for us as volunteer trustees to achieve very much and activity would be hard to co-ordinate. It is great that we now have both a plan and a means to make it happen.
Proudest achievement… facilitating and ultimately seeing the members work together and be supportive of each other across a whole range of issues. I am also very pleased that we now have the capacity to support our Candidates – something I wish had been available to me when I was starting out in this industry.
Peter is one of ADUK’s biggest advocates, so I am keen to know why it is so important to him and what he hopes for it’s future.
Peter: I am a huge advocate for the standards-based assistance dog industry, and I think ADUK is a shining example of how organisations can work together to promote what I believe is right for both people and dogs. I have never met any member of the public who does not think that charities should collaborate where it makes sense to do so and ADUK gives us the infrastructure to do that in an effective and efficient way – so yes, I think it is good for our public image as well.
I am sure ADUK will go from strength to strength. We have lots of exciting plans and so many more members of staff across all our organisations are involved which will strengthen ADUK in the long run.
What’s next for Peter?
Peter: I will continue to support ADUK in any way I can, and I remain on the ADEu and ADI boards until my terms expire next year. I am also very involved in the CEN Technical Committee work on assistance dogs and that is a huge project we all want to bring to fruition.
I want to take this chance to say a huge thank you to the ADUK board for making my term as Chair very painless and to you Vicky for bringing new energy and ideas into the organisation. There is a great sense of co-operation within ADUK which I know many other sectors admire and wish they could replicate!