Guest Blog: Being a mum at Westminster College

Magalie Cooper, our Bursar, has kindly shared the below piece with us;

How do you do it? 
There they were, my polished brand new shoes, my new dress with my name badge on.  Everything ready on a Sunday evening to return to work the following day…and I was so restless.  I was like a kid returning excitingly to school to see their friends after the long summer break…

But it wasn’t a summer break…

It wasn’t school…

And sadly I was no longer a kid…

It was November 2014 and I was returning from maternity leave, only three months after giving birth to my beautiful boy, Noah and just before the rush of Christmas parties; 90 days that had changed everything. I had changed, my priorities had changed and my team-mates would need to adapt to the new ME! But this wasn’t going to break me. I was determined this was going to be the making of me, as I realised whilst being away from the College that I was getting so much more than just a wage. I had indeed missed the College terribly.  Firstly, I missed the people with whom I work every day as we have a bond in Westminster, sharing the same drive to make or keep this place a special place for everyone who steps foot in it. Secondly, I missed the stimulation I get from my work, resolving issues, finding new opportunities and reacting to daily challenges! Finally, I missed the building.  Beautiful stones that mean so much more than just a shell, it is a safe place where you can be, just the way you are… Who can say they go to work, have prayers in the morning, chat with students at coffee time about feminism and serve dinner for 100 young and very hungry Chinese students? Me, me and me!

I am part of a wonderful organisation where my employer asks me what I can do, rather than why can’t I do it. Everyone knows Noah, Maisie and Ollie. I get asked frequently for news, even the General Secretary of the URC asked after Noah on his last visit to the College. I also get tips from my fellow mums or just get a sympathetic hug when the night has been interrupted by his night terrors. If Noah goes to the doctor one day, the following day people genuinely ask me how he is now. Thanks to the incredible support I got from the Senatus team, the Management Committee and the Board of Governors, I have managed to grow in my role and have blossomed both at home and at work. I was entrusted with more responsibility in June 2015 and despite being sometimes challenged with time to attend to all my engagements, I have managed to seize all the opportunities offered to me, the team or the college because I care, because I am fully-equipped to do my job well thanks to adequate training and professional network.

So when many people looks dubious when I say that I am a mum and step-mum to three beautiful kids, ranging from 2½ to 17 years old, that I am also a part-time student for the Open University and I work full time in a managerial position. They then ask me how I can possibly do all of this?  Well I respond rather smugly, that I have found the magic recipe:

1. I have a pretty amazing husband who is extremely supportive of my personal development and completely devoted to our family, despite him as well working full-time. We work as a team!

2. I am part of an extra-ordinary team who is committed, passionate and caring – One team, one purpose!

3. I work for an employer, the United Reformed Church, who genuinely care about their employees and takes its impact on society very seriously, putting people first rather than revenue, (we’re living wage foundation accredited). Here at Westminster, we apply the same level of care, understanding and professionalism.

So to all my colleagues who are mums or mums-to-be at Westminster College, I would like to wish you a Happy Mothers’ Day and see you on Monday to hear all about it with a cuppa’!

From a very happy mum at Westminster College

For further information about working at Westminster College, visit out Vacancies page.
Further information about studying at Westminster College , staying at Westminster or having a special event or conference check our website out.

Press Release – Westminster receives Living Wage Accreditation


5 October, 2016 


WESTMINSTER College and Radmore Farm Shop have become the latest employers in Cambridge to earn their Living Wage accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.

The accreditations were announced ahead of this month’s Living Wage Week, when Cambridge City Council will find out whether it has won a Living Wage Champion Award, for which it has been nominated.

The council supported Westminster College and Radmore Farm Shop through the process of applying for accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation, which means both pay at least the voluntary UK Living Wage to all their staff.

Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis. The nationwide Living Wage campaign has been promoted in the city by Cambridge City Council since 2014, as part of its anti-poverty strategy.

The campaign’s aim is to encourage employers to pay staff more than the national minimum wage of £7.20 per hour for staff aged 25 and over. The Living Wage Foundation’s rate is calculated each year to reflect the true cost of living and is currently set at £8.25 an hour outside London.

Westminster College is a theological college affiliated to the University of Cambridge, which trains students for ministry in the United Reformed Church, as well as being a venue for events such as business conferences and weddings.

College Principal, Rev. Neil Thorogood, said: “Christianity, along with so many traditions, deeply values individuals as made in God’s image and worthy of the deepest respect and celebration. As a college of the United Reformed , Westminster is built upon and guided by such values. The Living Wage, and this accreditation, demonstrates that commitment and encourages us to be the very best employer we can be. I am delighted that we have been affirmed in this way as we seek to help all of our staff flourish in our community.”

Radmore Farm Shop, on Chesterton Road at Mitcham’s Corner, is a family-run food shop that has been selling produce from local suppliers, including the proprietors’ own family farm, since 2006.

Ben Aveling who manages the shop with wife Vicky, said: “In a small business like ours, we rely on friendly service and staff that our customers know. Therefore it is vital that we keep our staff and let them know they are valued, so they can deliver the best possible service and enjoy their jobs.”

More than 2,700 companies in the UK are now accredited as Living Wage employers, including 48 in Cambridge.

Living Wage Week takes place from 31 October to 4 November. During the week there will be a series of events and activities, including the announcement of the new Living Wage rate for 2017-18, and winners of the Living Wage Champions awards, for which the council has been nominated.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “I’m delighted that the council has been shortlisted for a Living Wage Champion Award, and that two more employers – Westminster College and Radmore Farm Shop – have been accredited.

“Living Wage Week is a great opportunity for even more employers and employees to find out why the Living Wage is such an important campaign, especially in a city like Cambridge where the cost of living is high.

“Paying a Living Wage isn’t just beneficial to employees – it also benefits the employers themselves, as the evidence suggests that it improves staff motivation and retention, and really boosts an organisation’s ethical reputation.”

“I’d encourage everyone to come and find out more about the Living Wage during Living Wage Week.”


Notes for editors

  1. Contacts:
    Cllr Richard Johnson (Labour group), Executive Councillor for Communities, email:, tel: 07712 129529
    Cllr Zoe O’Connell (Liberal Democrat group), Opposition spokesperson, email:, tel: 07932 679179
    Cllr Oscar Gillespie (Independent/Green group), Opposition spokesperson, email:, tel: 07851 820806.
    Andrew Limb, Head of Corporate Strategy, email:, tel: 01223 457004
    David Kidston, Strategy and Partnerships Manager, email:, tel: 01223 457043