So, here’s a tricky one: what does a Wedding Co-ordinator have in common with the Hospitality Services Manager at Hallmark’s Greenhill Manor care home?
Okay…it’s Great British Care Award nominee, Lian Pearsall.
Over the years, I’ve heard of many unusual routes into the care sector, but Lian’s sounds like a first: she started working in a small country hotel as a barmaid, then moved onto reception and then became their Wedding Co-ordinator – a role she held for six years.
Having never met one, I had to know if it’s the cutest job on the planet:
“Well, it’s very glamorous, isn’t it! A wedding is one of the biggest days in people’s lives – something you remember forever. And they have invested so much time and money with such hopes for starting a new life together and you think, oh gosh, if I mess this up, they’ll remember me forever too! But yes, all the weddings were different and all lovely. It was just great to watch love! I always felt so proud to have helped make their day so special.”
And so, as I imagined, Lian would meet with couples during planning and then arrange everything including the ceremony, the food and accommodation, being there on the day from first thing in the morning setting everything up till two or three in the morning, shutting the bar down and putting everyone in taxis on their merry way.
It’s clearly therefore a job requiring supreme organisational and people skills plus meticulous attention to detail so I’m not surprised in the least that she was perfect for the job of Hospitality Services Manager at Greenhill Manor, but how did she make that move?
“Well, I had experience with a family member who was diagnosed with dementia and one day I was driving to work and I just didn’t feel the passion and excitement anymore. I think it all began to feel a bit dramatic when you think there are people out there who are going through terrible times. So I went into care in the community working for a few weeks and then applied to Greenhill Manor as a bank care assistant and receptionist simply from a throwaway comment from a friend who said they were hiring!”
Chance – right time, right place – so often plays a part in how we move through life, I reckon.
After a couple of years, Lian became Hospitality Services Manager, responsible for the domestic, kitchen, garden and maintenance teams and clearly thrived in that environment. So how might the roles be similar?
“With Hallmark, we say we want residents to have a hotel experience in a home environment. So when you’re doing a wedding, you want everything to be perfect – it’s the same here. And it’s building relationships all the time, ensuring the teams understand the importance of what they’re doing and why. For example, we have some residents who may not come out of their room very often, so the domestic assistant going in to clean for 20 or 30 minutes provides the perfect opportunity to have a quality engagement with that resident – to have a chat which might be the highlight of their day. For both roles, you have to have attention to detail, and absolutely have a good team. But this job has a lot more meaning. We have some people here who are really quite poorly and this is now their home and it makes me feel good that I’m doing all I can for them.”
Lian speaks with the quiet wisdom of someone who has not only passionately helped the people starting out on life’s journey but now also those who have lived it and are nearing its end. A chance moment might have led her to this point in her own journey, but as the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: what lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us…
STOP PRESS: Lian got married last November and yep, she planned and arranged everything herself, of course!