Sam Ruddock was a participant on the 2013 Emerging Leaders course, and is currently the Programme Manager at Writers' Centre Norwich.
This week, one year ago, I was in Cheshire attending a Clore Emerging Leaders course. A year on, I still feel immensely privileged to have attended that week-long residential programme, and am struggling to cram all the ways the course impacted on me professionally and personally into such a short piece.
That week has acquired an almost surreal quality in my memory: ensconced in a hotel with 20 other amazingly creative, articulate, generous, and fun people, cut off from the outside world, and ending with a 3am walk in the freezing cold as a snowstorm began to whip itself up. Clore felt like a cocoon in which I grew wings and emerged believing that I could fly.
But enough of the extended metaphors. Clore provided a space for reflection and learning, for trying new ideas and ways of behaving, for focussing on myself and understanding my skills and abilities and what I needed to work at. It opened my eyes and ears to the wider world of the arts and culture and enabled me to gain a broader picture of how other people work, what drives them, and what success has been like for them.
It was the people I met that have had the biggest impact on me. A spirit of camaraderie and shared trust existed throughout, and extended beyond the group itself to our fantastic convenors and the people who came in to talk to us, too. I was fortunate, too: in the very first session I met someone who I realised was challenging in just the way I needed. Someone who asked difficult questions and listened harder to my answers than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve been lucky to have been able to continue to collaborate in a mutual mentoring type of way ever since. We have hesitantly enabled each other to explore creative ideas to the stage where they increasingly feel ready to become a reality.
I’ve also benefitted from mentorship from a Clore Fellow who, despite my hesitation and propensity to change my mind, has been patient and pushed me and helped me believe that I have a good idea that could work.
I am afraid I have become a bit of an evangelist for the Clore Emerging Leaders course. I loved my experience and, quite simply, I wouldn’t be in the position I am without it.