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Stroud & Proud: Trevor Saunders – ministerial private secretary, Ecotricity, Forest Green


Trevor was born in Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk in 1955.  He left school at 18 and the decision about whether or not to go to university was an academic one – he did no work at all in the sixth form and left with an A-level in Art.  In the absence of any better ideas, he joined the civil service.  

We sat down with Trevor to hear of his innermost thoughts.

When were you happiest?

With a lot of effort, I was able to wipe out what would otherwise have been my life’s biggest disappointment, that of under-achieving in education, and I was selected for a civil service fast stream programme.  This ultimately led me to the happiest phase of my working life, as a ministerial private secretary.  It was a role that generally demanded someone with an Oxbridge degree, and here I was, a Norfolk mongrel. 

What has been your biggest disappointment?

On a darker note, my genuinely biggest disappointment in life is that I was never able to discuss with my father why he was so physically brutal to me when I was a young child.

How did you eventually become a Stroudie?

At the same time as I worked in Whitehall, I was a husband and a father of two very small children, and after a couple of years of particularly late nights between Whitehall and the House of Commons, I moved from London to Shropshire, ending up as a project manager in HMRC, implementing something called SAP.  As luck would have it, in Stroud Dale Vince had concluded that SAP was the right software platform on which to build his growing energy company, and I left the civil service to join Ecotricity.  15 years later, I am on the cusp of retiring from Ecotricity but have enjoyed an amazing variety of roles there, latterly as Head of People & Places (HR & Estates) as well as a Director of FGR. 

What do you like the most about living in the Stroud district?

What I most love about Stroud is its power to make everyone feel that they belong here, wherever they’re from, whatever their background and values.  I am from Norfolk, very different in so many ways, but In Stroud, I truly feel I’m home.

What would you improve about our locality?

One thing I’d like to change in Stroud is the apparent belief of some dog walkers that if there’s nobody else around it’s fine not to clear up after their pet.  Since lockdown, that problem has only got worse.  It might seem small in the scheme of things, but it’s so easily fixable.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

My guiltiest pleasure is salivating over new technology.  Or rather it should be as far as my wife Sharon is concerned.  In fact, I bear no guilt.  I’m more of a window shopper than a spendthrift.

What is your favourite smell?

My favourite smell is that overpoweringly fresh air that comes after a storm.  With a deep breath, your lungs practically drink the stuff.

What is your ideal weekend?

My ideal weekend is one spent with Sharon, our two adult children Dan & Becca, and their respective partners Jess and John, at home in Stroud, with good weather, a splash of alcohol, and good food – maybe a barbecue (of the vegan kind).  We all get on so well, and there is never any need to be other than ourselves.

Who would play you in a film about your life?

Any film about my life would rightly sink without trace, never mind go straight to DVD.  But I’d get son Dan to play me, which would probably horrify him.

Who is the most famous person in your phone?

The most famous person in my phone list is Dale Vince – landline only.  He did have a mobile phone once, I think, but he either lost it accidentally or deliberately.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

The most important lesson that life has taught me is that things happen for a reason.  Not in a religious way; more down to cause and effect.  To a massive extent, you make your own luck within the society that you’ve been allocated.

What book, song and drink would you take on your desert island?

If I was planning to be stranded on a desert island, I’d take a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  I have found all of Zafon’s books mesmerising, and this was the first I read.  And the song I’d take is Don’t Give Up by Peter Gabriel.  As well as being a good message for my island predicament, it’s a song that never fails to bring a tear to the eye.  It speaks to me of the evil years of Thatcherism, when so many ordinary Britons had their lives and their dreams crushed. 

What is top of your bucket list?

I don’t have a bucket list.  I try and enjoy the present as much as I can as well as shape the future as far as I’m able.  Life is too short to worry about what you haven’t done.  

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