Gareth Ruddock: Giraffe

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Gareth Ruddock is currently planning a picnic.  Not just any picnic you understand, the Great Perthshire Picnic; a month long celebration of food, drink, producers and chefs from across the area. 

As the CEO of Giraffe Trading, Perthshire's social enterprise that aims to support people with additional needs get into work, no two days are ever the same - in fact, when we catch up with him he is balancing a photo shoot with a morning helping out in the kitchen. 

"Normally my day starts early with a catch up with the team at our cracking wee cafe on south street for a coffee and a blether. From there on in it’s anyone’s guess!

Ultimately, it’s all about inclusion – we want to ensure that irrespective of a person’s background, they have the same opportunities as everyone else."My role involves lots and lots of funding applications, reports and meetings to talk about funding opportunities – as a charity and social enterprise, we rely on funders like Gannochy Trust and Lottery to enable us to support our trainees development. This means I’m stuck to a desk more than I’d like to be!"

When he does escape the office he's a bit of foodie himself (ex-chef!) and you can often find him enjoying Perth's busy food scene - 63 Tay Street and North Port are favourites for eating but he's also fond of a pint and some live music!

"I grew up in Lisburn in County Antrim, Northern Ireland til I was 17, then moved to Glasgow so it's in my blood to enjoy myself! Perth has a great scene for live bands and good pubs - I'm a big fan of The Twa Tams and The Venue, and I do like a pint and a bar meal at Cherrybank Inn. I moved to Perth 6 years ago with my wife and young family and we love it!."

Thos two young kids also keep him on his toes, with spare time spent walking their chocolate lab, Lola, or buildng lego - "which I'll happily do all day long"

"I also get to escape from the office from to time to help organise cool events like the Great Perthshire Picnic and our themed pop up events in the cafe. You know, like our African night at the end of September. People should definitely buy a ticket!"


Tell us the weirdest / funniest thing that has ever happened to you at work?

Last year, I was being interviewed for a local TV station about our annual soup competition, Zuppa. I was talking to the interviewer about a communications manager I used to work with who was really tall – when he did TV interviews with people he used to do a weird ‘lunge’ so that he was in the same eyeline as the person he was interviewing.

To emphasize his look, I gave an overdramatic re-enactment and did a huge lunge. My over enthusiasm resulted in an enormous ripping noise as I exposed my (thankfully not too embarrassing) boxer shorts to all. People did wonder why I tied a shirt around my waist for the rest of the day and looked uncomfortable when the wind blew.

What signals the start of your days off?

Euphoria! I love my job a lot, and do work silly and long hours, so a day off usually starts with a long relaxed sigh! As a family we quite often head for Tentsmuir Beach and Forest – me and kids seem to have developed a tradition of attempting to dig the biggest hole in the world ever on that beach – no matter what the weather.

I love cooking, so a perfect evening for me would be spent in my kitchen, supping a nice beer, perhaps jigging along to some tunes and creating way too much food and too much mess!

What might people be surprised to know about you?

I’d love to do an enormous road trip across America. I’d love to learn to fly a plane. I’d also love to finish doing up our house!I moved from Lisburn to Glasgow to join the Merchant Navy and spent 2 years sailing all over the world in a massive gas ship! It was an awesome experience – it’s pretty eye opening flying to Japan as a 17 year old on his first long haul flight! As much as I loved my time in the Navy, I realised that it wasn’t the career for me and left to begin a degree in Outdoor Education.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

That’s a really difficult one to answer! There’s loads of the world I’d love to spend travel around – Alaska, Africa, back to Japan and more. I’d love to do an enormous road trip across America. I’d love to learn to fly a plane. I’d also love to finish doing up our house!

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

In between university semesters I had the misfortune of applying for, and getting, a ‘Sales Manager’ job with a local ‘marketing’ company. They were slick, had amazing offices with massive TV’s playing cool music and a well-stocked kitchen with great coffee.

On my first day in this new AH-mazing job, I was driven to a random housing estate outside Cumbernauld to begin selling golf packages. Yup, it was a door to door sales job, trying to sell stuff to people that appeared to not be able to afford it. I lasted about an hour and a half then took about 3 hours on public transport trying to get back home to Glasgow!

Who or what inspires you?

Cheesefest – my kids. I want them to be proud of me, think I’m cool, want to aspire to be like me (well the good bits at least) and grow up with good values and ethics.

I'm also in awe of our amazing volunteers.  Volunteers support all aspects of Giraffe's work - without them we'd be lost.  We're recruiting at the moment actually, so if anyone reading this wants more info - send them my way!

(See bottom of article of folks - we can never resist a cheeky Irishman - Nicki)

Tell us about the day you’d love to live again?

 I’m surrounded by the best team in the world and see every day how the people we work with develop over their time with us.Too many to choose from! The day I got married, the days my kids were born, the day we got Lola our Labrador, the day Ireland won the 6 Nations Grand Slam in 2009, the first gig I played drumming in a band in Glasgow, my first gig I ever went to - Nirvana, King’s Hall Belfest – 22nd June 1992!

What’s the best part about your job?

The people I get to work with - staff, volunteers and trainees. I’m surrounded by the best team in the world! This, as well as seeing how the people we work with develop over their time with us.

We work with people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, mental ill health or learning disabilities – they come to us for personal development, socialisation and to learn new skills. Ultimately, it’s all about inclusion – we want to ensure that irrespective of a person’s background, they have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Complete this sentence; the best things in life are….

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Gareth Ruddock - QuoteVolunteers are invaluable members of the Giraffe network and their assistance helps support the trainees and allows the organisation to build successful, busy enterprises. There are around 70 volunteers throughout the organisation sharing their skills and being appreciated for all their valued time and energies. 

Contact Giraffe on 01738 449227 or for a friendly informal chat and see if you can make a real difference to someone’s life!

The Great Perthshire Picnic is a month-long celebration of Perthshire’s globally acclaimed larder and is running from the 31st August - 30th September 2019.

Championing the very best local produce and home-grown culinary talent from across the region, this tasty event brings together chefs, bakers, producers, distillers and food lovers for what is undoubtedly the area’s largest and most diverse food and drink festival. 

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