Sue Turner – “opening doors to people has been a privilege”
“At the age of 11, my future didn’t look too rosy!”, says Sue Turner, Chief Executive at Quartet. Sue is someone who you perhaps would never guess had personally benefited from the life-changing impact of local philanthropy, and credits it with helping her to get to where she is today – at the helm of a respected local charity that makes more than £2.5m of grants each year.
Sue has been our Chief Executive here at Quartet since October 2015, and she wants people to understand why she cares so passionately about doing what she can to open doors to help improve people’s lives…
“I grew up in the North West of England in a one-horse town called Atherton. I remember it as a grey place where it rained year round on the streets of tightly-packed terraced houses; people were caring but there wasn’t much optimism around. My Mum – a nurse and a single mum – did a great job of bringing us up but the odds were stacked against us having a career or even a job.
“There were three [respectable] ways of earning a living in Atherton back then – for the men, mining – but the mines were closing down so whichever way you looked at it mining wasn’t much of a career option for me… for women, textile mills – but they had closed and as I walked to junior school past the redundant mills, the few windows not boarded up were only useful to the local kids for stone throwing target practice… And the third option – at least this was open to men and women – was going on the dole.
“Added to this, the local secondary school my older brother and sister went to was appalling – a sink school where, instead of the teachers giving you a hard time if you didn’t hand in your homework, the other kids would beat you up if you did do your homework!
“But I got lucky and someone opened a door for me when I was 11. I passed the entrance exam to the only good school in the area – a fee paying, very academic school. Of course we couldn’t afford the fees, but thanks to a scholarship scheme I got a free place. Because of that free place, I received an amazing education and that opened more doors for me.
“I was the first person in my family ever to go to University and armed with a law degree from Bristol University I’ve been lucky enough to work with inspirational leaders in the private and not-for-profit sectors throughout my career. So everything about my life today stems from the philanthropy and generosity of the people who set up that school scholarship scheme.”
Up until 2015 Sue was a Director at The Bristol Port Company, where among other things she looked after the Port’s fund with Quartet which we used. “I had great support and advice from Ronnie and the Philanthropy team here – to make a difference in the local communities around Avonmouth and Royal Portbury Docks. Being able to open doors to people in this way has been a real privilege.”