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Jenny takes over the hot seat

Mensa chair Jenny Gill - picture Huw John

Jenny Gill has taken over as chair of British Mensa with a promise to "make a difference".

The 62-year-old, of Huddersfiled, West Yorkshire, took over from Chris Tyler following the AGM in Cardiff. Chris has stepped down after four years as chair, and six on the board, because of work commitments.

Jenny said she wanted to revitalise the organisation during her term of office by involving members from all ages and backgrounds.

“I joined the board because I want to make a difference,” she said. “The society has given me a great deal of pleasure and, I know it sounds corny, but I want to give something back.”

Jenny lives with her husband Peter and has a son Charles, 34. She has been a member of Mensa since 1989 after entering a competition sponsored by the society.

She said: “I did a competition in Woman, or Woman’s Own – the prize was a holiday, in the days when we couldn’t afford one. Charles was about nine.

“I didn’t win the holiday but I was invited to do a home test, and then the main test.

“My husband was absolutely thrilled to bits and he encouraged me to join.”

She said she valued Mensa for the chance to spend time with people on the same wavelength because, as many people find, a high IQ can leave individuals feeling out of step with those around them.

“It’s like telling jokes and nobody gets the punchline,” she said. “But you can go into a gathering of Mensans and you don’t have to explain yourself. Everybody gets it.”

Once her son had grown up Jenny started to take an active role in Mensa, especially on the communications front.

She has been co-editor of Spotlight, the north-east regional newsletter, for 12 years and had a major role in the re-design of the Mensa Magazine. More recently, Jenny has been the driving force behind a new survey to find out how members want to receive information in the 21st century.

Despite leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, Jenny now has a master’s degree in health management and social care from Huddersfield University, prompted by an interest developed while working for the NHS. She now has a private consultancy, specialising in healthcare planning for mental health, including strategic planning and working with design teams interpreting the requirements for the internal planning of mental health units.  She is also a director of the Design in Mental Health Network.

Chris received a farewell gift from his fellow Mensans after presiding over his last AGM during the annual gathering in Cardiff, and was thanked for his work by secretary Ian Fergus.

Joining the board is management consultant Anna Pajor, originally from Poland and now living in London, while Chris Leek from Cheshire and Jo Sidebottom from Milton Keynes were re-elected for a further term. 

The board members and their roles are now:

Chairman: Jenny Gill

Secretary: Ian Fergus

Treasurer: Carolyn Cooper

Nat Rep 1: Chris Leek

Nat Rep 2: Ann Rootkin

RLO: Ann Rootkin

MMF: Jo Sidebottom

WCCP: Jo Sidebottom

Health & Safety: Jeff Davies

Shadow Board Liaison: Kester Leek

Licensing Officers: Jenny Gill and Chris Leek

Social Media Officer: Anna Pajor

Procedures Body

Retire by rotation: Ann Voysey, Terry Boswell and George Joesbury.

Ann Voysey reappointed and Ralph Stuttard appointed.