Lisa Farmer, Director of Strategic Development at Royal British Legion Industries
Director of Strategic Development at Aylesford-based military and disability charity, Royal British Legion Industries, Lisa Farmer has done what many still consider to be the impossible. Over the past 20 years, she has played instrumental roles in numerous major UK infrastructure projects, working tirelessly to secure their funding. Then, as the 00s became the 10s, she moved into the charitable sector during which time she has channelled her drive for success into helping those in society who are less fortunate -firstly with Young Epilepsy and more recently with RBLI. Most importantly however, her career ran alongside her equally demanding commitments as a mother, which has seen her raise four up-standing children – a feat too often said to be unrealistic for women who are willing to go the extra mile in the world of work.
Originally from Loughborough, Leicestershire, Lisa’s fundraising career took its first stride in a development role for British Waterways which saw her work on multi-million pound renovation projects, during which time she was also juggling looking after three children -all under the age of ten. Her successes at work then paved the way for a return to her hometown’s university. Her time at Loughborough University saw her play a role in a £40 million sports development project which involved the building of a training academy for England’s finest up and coming cricket stars, a state of the art indoor athletics centre, and an Olympic-size swimming pool, the latter two of which benefitted many of the athletes who secured podium finishes at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Helping to secure the money for the sporting developments at the UK’s leading sports university was one of the proudest moments of my career,” she said. “The team knew what it would mean for the future of British sport and so it was a phenomenal moment.
“However, on a personal level, it meant a great deal to me at the time, I was juggling the pressure of the job while raising four children, one having just been born. Of course it was difficult, but having a love for what I was doing, both at home and at work, gave me the desire I needed to keep going.”
The second half of Lisa’s career has seen her move into the charity sector. Firstly, at children’s charity Young Epilepsy, which saw her lead on significant projects including raising £7 million to build The Neville Childhood Epilepsy Centre.
“My work over the past 20 years has always been routed in helping people – perhaps there has been an element of a motherly instinct at play, but that instinct, coupled with the tenacity to succeed is a very favourable trait in women and should be encouraged wherever possible.”
Her subsequent move to Aylesford-based military charity RBLI now sees her lead on her most ambitious project yet – a project of which will further cement the care available to veterans here in Kent.
“Having first been established in 1919, RBLI faces a momentous occasion as we approach 2019 – its centenary year. As this coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the First World War, we thought it poignant to commemorate the moment by developing much needed social housing, care, welfare and rehabilitation facilities that will provide outstanding support to more than 100 veterans and their families for another century.”
The £32 million development is already underway. The first phase, completed in April, saw the erection of 24 new specialised apartment blocks designed specifically to help ex-service personnel who are wounded, injured or sick, and to provide vital accommodation to veterans who are at risk of homelessness. The whole project, dubbed the Centenary Village will see a total of more than 100 individuals, couples and families receive accommodation and supportive care. The village and the facilities will give our nation’s veterans the best possible chance at recuperation and independence.
“My children, having now grown up into adults themselves, remain incredibly supportive of my work and I believe this is a testament to my relationships with them which I worked hard on during the early stages of my career.”
Lisa’s advice on becoming a successful working mother:
Don’t be disheartened
“You will face difficulties, stresses and strains as a result of the situation – this is to be expected. Realising, however, that good days are many and bad days are few is vital.”
Be ready to sacrifice
“Something does have to give for the system to work, and that something may well be your own personal time. That may sound daunting initially, but so long as you love what you do for a living, and love spending time the remaining time with your family, then it will be far easier than you think. Plus, time to yourself becomes so much more valuable –you will begin to treasure it.”
“Too often we hear that it is simply impossible to be successful professionally and domestically – this is simply not the case. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of women up and down the country who are stringently committed to both, and neither aspect has suffered. Recognise that it is possible to do both.”