Wellington Place is more than just bricks and mortar, it’s a thriving community powered by people. This series of interviews aims to highlight some of the people of Wellington Place, share their inspirational stories and find out why Wellington Place is much more than just a place to work…
Interview with Ann Prestidge
Publications Assistant, Digital Training & Media (Judicial College) at Ministry of Justice, 5 Wellington Place.
Ann is part of the Publications Team of the Judicial College at the Judicial Office, which works with the Ministry of Justice. The Judicial Office supports the judiciary across the courts of England and Wales, and the non-devolved tribunals across the UK, by providing training, legal and policy advice, human resources, communications and administrative support.
A unique branch of the civil service, it is dedicated to strengthening the rule of law and improving the administration of justice by supporting the leadership and governance of the independent judiciary. It provides operational support, policy, legal and handling advice through a number of specialist teams.
What’s your greatest achievement to date?
“I learnt to row at the age of 27 in London at Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club and found a love for it. I began reading The Crossing: Conquering the Atlantic in the World’s Toughest Rowing Race by Ben Fogle and James Cracknell and instantly knew the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge was something I wanted to do.
Ironically, I had a friend who also had the same idea, so we decided in 2017 to get a team of four together and enter. We started looking to purchase a boat, however, unfortunately, two of our crew dropped out and we took the decision to compete as a pair instead. We eventually found a boat builder in Devon and though I had moved to Leeds, and it was a lot of travelling and dedication to our training, we were training together every weekend from the summer of 2018.
To get onto the water for the challenge, we had to attend multiple courses on navigation as it was an unassisted row and in order to fund our entry, we gained sponsorship from HSBC.
The start line began at La Gomera, Canary Islands in December 2019. Sara, my partner, would be the oldest female to cross the ocean at 64 should we make it, so we had a lot of motivation to drive us through the experience.
Amongst the seasickness, rough weather, boat and equipment issues such as snapped steering and broken blades, it took us 86 days to complete. It was the biggest mental challenge as there was a point 20 miles from Antigua (around 2,800 miles into the challenge) where we could’ve lost it, however, we got back on track and made it in on the eve of International Women’s Day, March 7th – so it was very apt for us.
To top it all off, not only was Sara the oldest woman to cross the Atlantic, we raised over £45,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society and Street League, a UK sport for employment charity supporting young people getting into work.
It’s an experience we will never forget and by far my best achievement to date.”
Tell us a little bit about what you do…
“I work for the Judicial College and there’s three members in our Publications Team. We are in charge of creating jurisdictional newsletters, analysing recent cases in court, as well as the Welsh newsletter’. Our work also involves; looking over bench books, such as the equal treatment bench book that enables effective communication, directing the Crown Court Compendium which helps judges direct juries, and jury management.
I don’t come from a legal background – with a History of Arts degree from Leeds and a history of working in the arts industry front of house, I was looking for a change. I come from a family of civil servants and my sister who had worked in the Home Office, highlighted the opportunities within the Civil Service.
I began working for the Ministry of Justice at Blackfriars Court and then joined the Judicial College, which works across four sites: Glasgow, Loughborough, London and Leeds. I had the opportunity to move out of London and Leeds was the next obvious choice – Leeds has everything London does, just on a smaller scale which is much more personal, relaxed and atmospheric, as well as that feeling of being led by community – much like Wellington Place.”
What is your favourite thing about working at Wellington Place and why?
“With just three of us in the office, it is great having a landlord who offers activities and facilities to keep us meeting new people.
I love how they look back at their roots and history with the lifting tower and how they have incorporated that into the landscaping. They look outwards to the community with wellbeing events, book club, lunch festivals, markets and various groups, as well as how they look at the wider community, they are part of by encouraging environmentally friendly transport and bike stations.
When you spend so much time at work it is important your environment has a positive impact on your mental and physical health, and with lots of open space and activities going on, Wellington Place allows you to have a work-life balance at work which is rare.”
Which community events do you take part in at Wellington Place and why?
“I’m part of the Wellington Pacers running club which has been great for not only interacting with new people but for relaxation as it’s a form of exercise not focused on performance. It’s for a breadth of abilities as you’re able to run in a group and a great way to switch off from work, taking you away from your desk for an hour of the day.
The book club has also been something different for me to try. With the nature of my job, I haven’t read a lot of fiction for a while or read things I would not normally. My favourite was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and some authors the club has introduced to me are Robert Aickman – we read Cold Hand in Mine – and Ray Bradbury – we read Dandelion Wine. We have covered so many things and topics and it offers a new focus outside of your day-to-day.”
What three words sum up Wellington Place to you?
“Fresh – it’s clean and spacious with so much going on and what they continue to do
Inclusive – there’s a sense of belonging working at Wellington Place
Innovative – it’s a forward-thinking company looking at environmental issues, honing in on what business needs to be, encouraging environmental development with green spaces, drop-offs for charity and responsibility in business”
Thanks to Ann for taking part in the interview, image credit to Atlantic Campaigns/ Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
If you would like to tell your story, or wish to nominate someone to take part in the People of Wellington Place series please email firstname.lastname@example.org