Three years weren’t long enough with you, Phil!

by | May 16, 2023 | Blog

It’s the day we all dreaded here at Beacon. Our amazing Project Manager, Philippa (Phil) has officially left our charity. We are heartbroken to see her go, but thrilled to know that she’ll be pursuing her dream of teaching English abroad.

Before Phil left, she wrote the following leaving blog to summarise the past three years she spent with us and the rare disease community. If you had the pleasure of meeting and working with her, then you’ll know that Phil could never be replaced. She helped transform our rare diseases charity and will always hold a special place in our heart. She’s our one-of-a-kind dancing queen who will be sorely missed here at Beacon.

We wish you well in this next chapter, Phil. Thank you for the memories – we’ll miss you!

Can you sum up your time at Beacon for us?

I would describe Beacon as the best unexpected gift I have ever received. I remember opening my inbox to an email from CharityWorks on a Tuesday in September stating that a role had been found that matched my preferences and thinking ‘rare diseases and project management, that’s new!’ I decided to take the leap mostly because my mum was nagging me to get a job, I badly wanted to get out of Yorkshire and had pretty much nothing to lose. I actually found my interview notes the other day and remember trying to cram as much knowledge about rare diseases as possible before my trip down to Cambridge.

Looking back now, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. When I joined Beacon it was an even smaller team than we have now, there were just 4 of us for a long time and it meant that I got to get stuck in even more than expected. Moving to Cambridge and doing something completely new was eased massively by how wonderful the Beacon team was then and continues to be. Friendship, teamwork and support is something that has defined my time at Beacon and I have never met a bunch of people that I would rather spend so much of my time with both in the office and out at the pub. From mini golf to Tuesday quiz nights and stormy boat trips we have always had the most fun and I have never not wanted to come into work, which seems like a pretty good run to me. Even in lockdown, which came very shortly after I started in the role, we managed to keep each other positive and entertained through zoom drinks and silly memes in the shared chat. You won’t find a better office than the Beacon and AKU Society office.

Aside from that, there is of course the work itself too. Going from someone who had little to no knowledge of rare diseases to an advocate has been unexpected and rewarding. I am proud to have been part of a charity that is so innovative, interesting and valuable and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career. You can bet I will be trying to keep my nose in as much as possible!

If you’d have told me 3 and a half years ago if I would have done the things I have done and met the friends I have met, I don’t think I would have believed you and my time at Beacon was just one long very nice surprise.

What are you up to since leaving Beacon?

In a few weeks I will be heading to Oxford to live with my sister and obtain my CELTA (Certificate In Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) so that I am qualified to teach English as a foreign language. The course takes a month to complete and from what I’ve heard it is a pretty busy month indeed! I will be learning skills such as language analysis and awareness, language skills, lesson planning and how to actually teach; I think hosting all those webinars and trainings and making all those presentations is definitely going to come in handy!

From there I am going to work in UK summer schools before setting my sights further afield later this year. I would really love to move to Spain for a bit and then maybe somewhere in south east Asia or South America after that- I would love to go to Vietnam, Peru or Argentina. Honestly, I’m not much of a long term planner so I am just going to see what happens and hopefully have lots of fun along the way!

What are some highlights from your time at Beacon?

It’s hard to pick because there have been so many! I really loved being involved with our in-person events; our Drug Repurposing conferences and Cambridge showcase. Events like that really highlight how well we all work together as a team and it was always wonderful to see people I had previously only seen on a computer screen, in person and all together in the same room. People are never the height you expect them to be! I also really enjoyed our International Rare Disease showcase. It was a big logistical operation, but we all came together to make it great and it was worth the square eyes afterwards.

I have also had the opportunity to do some really interesting things throughout my time at Beacon. It was great to be able to travel to Brussels last May for the AKU Society Scientific Conference and then to Spain in November to present at World Orphan Drug Conference. I also got to visit the Podcast Show last year and be in the same room as Louis Theroux, I sang at Abbey Road Studios this year for This Is Rare and of course I got the opportunity to win Jeff the mini moo- Beacon’s new team mascot!

What is your greatest achievement at Beacon?

When I first joined Beacon, the podcast was just an idea that Rick had, but he approached me with the idea to see if it would be something I would like to work on. It has been a challenging project to work on, as I have had to learn so many new things, manage collaborations and build my confidence as an interviewer and someone people might actually want to share their stories with!

Now, there are two seasons of the Rarely Heard podcast, it has its own brand and people actually listen! It feels great that I can look back at that project and be happy that those stories will now be out in the world forever for people to listen and relate to. I believe that it is so important for these rare experiences to have a platform and I am so privileged that people wanted to share them with me.

Check out the past three years with Phil in photos!