Irene Duncan - Women of Inspiration 2019

Take My Word/The Prince’s Trust

"The young people I work with have so much talent, energy and enthusiasm to achieve their dreams and goals. They are very appreciative of the support I give them. Knowing I’m making a difference means a great deal to me"

Irene is now a self-employed copywriter after stepping down from Head of Publications at DC Thomson. She is also a senior volunteer for The Princes Trust, and Chair of Nurture Parents. Her portfolio role now is to support young people to start up in business, freely sharing her experience, skills and knowledge to help them in very practical way. She also mentors a young disabled entrepreneur, Andrew Batchelor, coaching him to build his confidence and public speaking skills. She also provides strong leadership and business acumen in her role as Chair of the parent and child charity, Nurture Parents. Irene is absolutely outstanding in her support of young people who wish to improve themselves in business and has helped many towards success. If she can help in any way, she will, and is extraordinarily generous with her knowledge and time. Irene is an absolute inspiration for people of all ages.

Please describe what the company does

Take My Word provides high-quality copy, sub-editing and proofreading services.

Please describe what your current role within the company is

I’m the owner of Take My Word and provide editorial services for clients.

However, currently my focus is on voluntary work. In the main, supporting young people and expectant and new parents.

I also devote time to helping the elderly who can suffer from loneliness and mobility difficulties. Spending time with them, chatting about a wide range of subjects, makes them feel they’re not forgotten and their opinions are being listened to.

Being the Senior Volunteer for the Prince’s Trust in Tayside involves mentoring young people. I help them create business plans, meet with them regularly to keep them focused on staying on track to achieve their goals and I’m there to listen when they have any worries or concerns. I have an extensive network which enables me to put them in touch with people and businesses potentially able to support them.

Working with Andrew Batchelor, who is supported by the Prince’s Trust, is very rewarding. He has autism, cerebral palsy and also suffers from epilepsy, dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Andrew, who is 18, is a young ambassador for Dundee and has set up his own business called Dundee Culture which promotes businesses in Dundee. He is an amazing young man. Nothing holds him back.

He has given presentations at several major events and has received tremendous feedback. It’s an absolute joy helping him.

Outside of the Prince’s Trust, I help young people with job applications, creating CVs that make them stand out from the crowd and also give them advice on interview skills.

In my role as Chair of Nurture Parents, I support expectant and new parents with young children up to the age of three.

The vast majority of parents go through times when they struggle, unsure if they’re doing the right thing. Many of the parents who attend the drop-in sessions experience worries and anxieties that affect their wellbeing and confidence in their ability to care for their baby.

The NHS is under a great deal of pressure and often health professionals don’t have the time to listen. Nurture Parents provides a safe place parents can come to without referral. They know they’ll get information to help them make informed decisions and a friendly, listening ear.

It makes me feel very warm inside when a mum tells me Nurture Parents has made a huge difference to her and coming along to the sessions has given her a much more positive outlook and been a genuine lifeline.

Please tell us about what inspires you, and what this award means to you

I’m inspired by so many people – of all ages.

You hear so many negative stories about the younger generation, but that’s certainly not my experience.

The young people I work with have so much talent, energy and enthusiasm to achieve their dreams and goals. They are very appreciative of the support I give them. Knowing I’m making a difference means a great deal to me.

I’m also inspired by the mums and dads I meet at Nurture Parents – and their babies! If I can help ease their worries by listening and make them laugh at some of the mistakes I’ve made bringing up my sons (who are now in their twenties) I feel I’m helping them enjoy parenthood instead of   beating themselves up.

Possibly my greatest inspiration comes from my parents. They taught me their ‘golden rules’ for life which are always uppermost in my mind: to be honest, hard-working, kind and respectful.

My mum and dad also gave me the opportunity and the courage to follow my dreams of being a journalist. I started work as an editorial assistant in 1973 and couldn’t believe I was being paid for fulfilling my love of writing!

Throughout my 40 years with DC Thomson I experienced so much – from writing horoscopes to meeting famous faces and working with colleagues to create sound business plans for the continuing success of the company.

Finally, I have to say my husband, Ian, is a great inspiration. He is such a kind, thoughtful person who puts up with me!

My two sons – Rory and Hamish – are also a great inspiration. From an early age they have considered and challenged political views and decisions. They have made me look at the world in a different way which has been very insightful.

I feel very humbled to be given this award. When I received the email I thought it must be a mistake!

People and communication are at the heart of everything I do and getting the award makes me feel I’m succeeding in living the values I believe in.