Ian Whitwham joined Sidney as our new Head Porter in July. We caught up with Ian to find out more about him and how he has been settling in over the summer.
Hello Ian! It’s great to have you here with us at Sidney. What were you doing before you joined us?
I’ve come to Sidney Sussex directly from being a Senior Porter at Trinity College and before that I was a Porter at Girton College. Before that I had a 17 year career as a musician in the Army which was a really interesting job. I got to travel around the world playing at some high profile engagements. It also provided me with some amazing opportunities, such as playing at the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony and the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
What are your first impressions of the College?
I’ve been so impressed with how friendly and helpful everyone has been. There seems to be a really close-knit community spirit here, which is exactly what I was hoping for. I also think the grounds are beautiful and have loved walking around the Fellows’ Gardens.
What does a typical day look like for a Head Porter?
The thing that I like best about being a Head Porter is that each day is completely different. I have my core responsibilities of looking after the security and fire safety of the College, but you never know what might happen on a day-to-day basis, and it’s usually the Porters’ Lodge that has to deal with any issues in the first instance. This takes up the majority of my time – as does dealing with emails as I have 3 email Inboxes to keep on top of! Typically I also have 2-3 meetings a day with other Heads of Departments, College Officers or external companies.
That sounds nice and varied! Are there any things that you are particularly keen to do or implement as part of your role?
The upside of having worked at two other Colleges is that I have a really good idea of what works in a Lodge and what doesn’t. I’m currently looking at the processes that we use and am getting feedback from the team as to how we could improve things. I’m hoping to continue the work of my predecessor in creating a welcoming and professional environment within the Lodge. This means having a good clear-out to create a more open work space and I’m also arranging Mental Health First Aid Training for the team as I want students to feel completely at ease in approaching the Lodge for help.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Music has always played a huge part in my life. I’ve played the Euphonium (a large brass instrument) since I was 8 years old, and was very fortunate to then have a career playing that instrument in the Army. I still play nowadays for a Championship-level brass band in East London which takes a lot of commitment. I’m also a family man; I have two children, a boy and a girl, and absolutely love spending my spare time with them and my wife.
Time for some quick questions now! Favourite film?
Coming to America
Drink of choice?
Best book you’ve read?
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
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