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Anne Allen

YAS Trust Secretary

Anne Allen YAS Trust Secretary

Anne Allen holds a senior management position at YAS. Her latest role in a long career of public service started at West Yorkshire Police aged 22 as the first ever married woman to join their force. Her achievements include being part of the team that developed and implemented ‘HOLMES’, the first electronic software system still used nationally today in the Police investigation of major crime, turning round the training function at Nottinghamshire Ambulance Service (the first non-clinical person to manage an ambulance training team) and ten years as an Executive Director at East Midlands Ambulance Service. Along the way she has achieved Chartered Fellowship of three professional Institutes, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and formal qualifications in coaching and mentoring.

It’s a high-flying career. But it is all the more remarkable given that Anne is lucky to be alive. “I celebrate two birthdays”, explains Anne. “My real birthday on 26th March and 10th March as the day I survived.”

On 10th March 1986 Anne awoke as usual and got ready to go to work at West Yorkshire Police. She says, “I was just cleaning my teeth when I felt an excruciating pain in my head and a feeling like the twanging of an enormous elastic band. I actually got a lift to work, but by this time I was seeing double. I asked a colleague to take me to A&E at Pinderfields which was a lucky decision; had I gone home and laid down I would probably have died.”

“A CT-scan confirmed that I had suffered three brain aneurisms and I was kept flat on my back for seven days to bring my blood pressure down sufficiently to allow the surgeon to operate. My family were at my bedside and all through this time I could tell that the consultant wasn’t expecting me to survive. But somehow I knew that I would come through it.”

Anne came through the surgery where three ‘clips’ were applied to the burst blood vessels in the centre of the brain (the Circle of Willis) and was discharged from hospital after five weeks although with significant physical weakness and cognitive impairment. “I had real difficulty comprehending basic information” she says.

In 1986 the level of post-hospital support was very different from what someone would expect today. “I had no counselling for the life-changing trauma I’d been through and no support for overcoming my impairment”, says Anne. “But I felt so fortunate to have survived the surgery that I set myself the challenge of getting back to the best point of physical and mental fitness I could. I did puzzles, I walked, and I read what I could.”

“All through this time I had great support from my husband and family. But one of the hardest things was knowing that my Police career was over as I could never again be put in a position where a head injury could occur. My colleagues were marvellous, but they couldn’t change the situation that my career ambitions were cut short. One year on was my lowest point. But I knew I needed to get back to work.

“Fifteen months on, I got a job as a GP’s receptionist. And from there, as I got stronger, I took on new roles in different organisations with ever increasing levels of responsibility. I think achieving my MBA as best student was my proudest moment; I had really proved to myself that I had overcome the impairment.”

Three years after her brain haemorrhage, Anne had one of her thyroid glands removed along with a significant tumour which, fortunately, turned out to be benign. At the time, Anne remembers thinking, “here we go again!”

What skills does Anne think have helped her through the course of her career? Anne laughs: “determination!” she says, “and a real consultative style of leadership where I canvas a broad base of opinion in order to make well-informed decisions. I am also not afraid to hold people to account. I feel it is my responsibility to make sure that everyone in my teams delivers to the highest standards.”

And what advice would she give others? “Be decisive, do what you say you’re going to do, deliver to deadlines. Be absolutely clear with people about what you expect from them, support them appropriately (even if sometimes that means they move elsewhere in the organisation or to another), then hold them to account for delivery. Above all, treat people with the respect you expect for yourself and family.”

Complementing her current role, Anne is continuing to develop her coaching and mentoring skills. She offers coaching both to individuals within the Trust as well as externally through the Yorkshire Accord scheme.