Big Hearts Community Trust (Big Hearts) today announces the appointment of Caryn Kerr as its new general manager.
Caryn will take up post at Tynecastle on 25th May 2015.
An experienced charity sector leader and fundraising specialist with a strong communications background, Caryn is currently Head of National Partnerships at The Prince’s Trust Scotland.
In this role she has been responsible for securing £1.5m of funding from a range of national and regional public sector sources including the Scottish Government, Big Lottery fund, Skills Development Scotland, Sportscotland and Creative Scotland.
Highlighting the relevance of Caryn’s experience to this new role in the Hearts family, Big Hearts chairman Jim Panton says: “Caryn was the outstanding candidate and we are absolutely delighted that she has accepted the board’s invitation to join Big Hearts as our new general manager.
“I have no doubt she will bring purpose, organisation and ultimately great success to the families, and initially kinship carers, we need to help as part of our renewed focus on families.
“The challenges that the club has borne in recent years, culminating in Ann Budge’s majority purchase of Hearts, and her unique agreement with the Foundation of Hearts, bear reflection of the social conscience Hearts now has. That is a responsibility for all of us.
“It comes at a wonderful time for the club on and off the field, not least with the announcement that Save the Children, a partnership to which we are hugely committed, becomes part of the community at our great club.
“There was also an important factor in appointing Caryn in that we’re aware of how much funding supporters are responsible for at the moment through the club, and 8,000 monthly subscribers to the Foundation. Whilst we fully expect Hearts supporters to be incredibly generous as we’ve seen in recent months through our Big Hearts Big Reunion and supporter group donations, we felt it vitally important that the charity is better placed to stand on its own two feet.
“This means identifying and securing funding from public and third sector streams. Our research has identified that where there is need – and we’re clear there’s need – we can capitalise on this, ultimately helping families who so badly need help. Caryn is ideally placed to drive this forward, with superb experience.”
Big Hearts is in the process of rebuilding, in line with Hearts’ fresh start last summer. As part of this, Ann Budge has placed Big Hearts at the heart of delivering a new family-focused strategy which will support those with greatest need.
For Hearts and Big Hearts, family means how, “we support our own”, not “how they can support us” as is so often the case with football clubs.
The first new “family” programme will focus on supporting families providing Kinship Care, a priority area identified with key stakeholders such as the City of Edinburgh Council and Children 1st. From Big Hearts’ informal consultation with supporters, the charity has also found supporters who are affected by these challenging situations, making it highly relevant to the Hearts.
Caryn graduated with first class honours from the University of Aberdeen and other key roles she has held in the last decade included National Coordinator for CashBack for Communities, YouthLink Scotland and Communications Manager at the Scottish Government’s Community Safety Unit. She also hails from a family who loves their football having grown up in and around the industry.
She said: “What the board of Big Hearts in partnership with the club have set out to do is limitless in its ambition and is why I’ve accepted this position. There is so much we can do. We can use the power of the Hearts badge to help families – starting with kinship carers – who desperately need our help and I am excited to be part of this.
“Harnessing the passion of our supporters, making the most of external funding streams, and working with high quality delivery partners we know we can make a difference. I buy into the vision of Big Hearts and the club which says that in these happier times for everyone at Tynecastle we now must take responsibility in the community we serve and really give something tangible back.
“This means working together closely – club and charity – engaging every part of the Hearts community and wider third sector, and when we do I think we’ll be able to achieve a great deal to be proud of.”
Hearts majority shareholder Ann Budge, also a Big Hearts trustee, sat on the interview panel which proposed Caryn’s appointment and adds: “As both CEO of Hearts and a Trustee of Big Hearts, I am delighted that Caryn has accepted our offer to join Big Hearts as general manager.
“Her track record and experience is just what we need to ensure families in our community who need real support benefit from the unique partnership Hearts and Big Hearts has together, along with all of our charity partners.
“The commitment the club has to supporting families is of course further strengthened by the recent announcement of our partnership with Save the Children and the work to be carried out through Big Hearts is entirely complimentary to this.
“I look forward to working hand-in-hand with Caryn to make a real difference to the lives of families in our community. This is another hugely positive step.”
Meanwhile, David Sellar has joined the Big Hearts board of trustees completing its new-look structure. David is a QC Ampers and Stable, and long-time Hearts season ticket holder. He will cover a new legal brief within the refreshed board.
He is also joined by Tim Gardiner, a former finance director and consultant with Hibs and Celtic, who will look after finance matters.
They, along with chairman Jim Panton, Ann Budge, David Bruce - representing City of Edinburgh Council, SAMH chief executive Billy Watson, and Lawrence Broadie, a marketing & communications specialist director with Progress Sponsorship & Communications make up the new board.