Name: Sarah Callander Beckett
Job: Owner and CEO of Combermere Abbey Estate
Where were you born: London
Where do you live now: Combermere Abbey, between Whitchurch and Nantwich on the Cheshire/Shropshire border
Education (secondary school, university, further education): Cobham Hall, Kent and Universita de Firenze (Florence University) secretarial diploma in three languages; university of life!
Family life (Married? Children?): Married to Peter and one son Peregrine, two dogs Zanzi and Zola – black labradors
I have only no average day!
I always get up early around 6.30am, let the dogs out and make myself a cup of tea.
I try and meditate regularly as it helps me to see things clearly.
Breakfast is simple, yogurt and fruit with Izzy’s granola and good strong coffee.
If I am at home the dogs get a walk usually to check on something on the estate.
My office is just across the yard in a restored clock tower and boat house, and I check emails and my to do list!
Lists are vital so I use my phone memo and voice recorder a lot.
My PA Heather and I chat about schedules and timetables and this year as High Sheriff – her organisational skills are a godsend!
I have regular meetings with the events sales team and keep up to speed with the operations as well.
We have lots of meetings both in the office and outside.
After more than 20 years’ restoring the estate, I am passionate about supporting tourism and the rural economy so work with Marketing Cheshire and other rural and historic bodies to highlight issues and benefits.
One day I could be doing a radio interview, the next writing an article or at a committee meeting.
If I am out for lunch it could be with an associate or client at a restaurant, or a sandwich on the run between appointments.
I have recently discovered The Academy at South Cheshire College in Crewe, amazing food produced by the students in a two rosette restaurant.
We are working together to build student placements in the food industry across Cheshire.
We have a terrific pub, the Combermere Arms just 100 yards from the estate entrance and use that a lot.
At home I like to use things from my vegetable garden, so lunch could be salads, bread and cheese or homemade mackeral pate.
If I have been out during the day then I like to come back into the office and review emails, mail and set myself up for the next day.
And the dogs always need a late walk!
If I am in London or away then I will check into the office, or reply to emails or calls and prepare for the next day’s activities.
This year is an amazing juggling act as I have said I will be working on Combermere business only two days a week, so that I can undertake my duties across the county as High Sheriff diligently.
It is proving an amazing experience, broadening my knowledge of Cheshire and the extraordinary array of buisnesses and organisations and the people that run them.
What do you wear to do your job?
Depends on what I am doing! A day at home in the office is very practical as I could be out on the estate, in the office or called out to look at works being done. So trousers are definitely preferred. On business in London or at committees, then something smart and elegant – usually muted colours which mix and match with fun accessories. If I am on High Sheriff duties this year, I wear my uniform to most official things which is a dark blue dress and jacket with lace jabot and metal buttons, shoes with buckles and my dashing black hat with ostrich feather!
What is the favourite part of your job?
The variety – I don’t actually see what I do as a job, more as a vocation using skills I have learnt in my previous career in marketing and public relations in London and the USA. Each day is different and I could be working on long term business plans, supporting organisations like the CLA and Historic Houses Association which I represent on committees and boards, working with the sales team on marketing plans or writing up awards or grant applications. It is so varied.
What is the least favourite part of your job?
Having to reply to so many emails, try and keep up with my social media regularly and always watch my pennies!
What would be your dream job if you weren’t doing what you do now?
I love networking and putting people together as well as using my creative side, so actually I would love to be a creative director working on campaigns that really have a purpose or a heart to them. I think it is important to give something back to society if as I have been fortunate to have enjoyed good health and meeting extraordinary people across the globe.
How do you relax when you are not working?
Spending time enjoying nature, walking the dogs or just appreciating the natural landscape. Reading is my other interest, which I get very little time ot do at Combermere.
What is your favourite film?
I don’t have a favourite particularly – I enjoy French and Italian films as they help me keep up with my languages.
What is your favourite book?
Heroes with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. A seminal work about comparative mythology and its place in society today. All of his books are extraordinary.
What is your favourite song?
Procol Harem – A Whiter Shade Of Pale.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you?
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet?
Don’t think so, as I still have so much I would like to accomplish – if fate ordains.
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