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In December we said a fond farewell to our Exec Director Laura Holmes, as she moved on to an exciting and challenging new full-time role. Laura applied her formidable organisational, analytical and strategic skills with thoughtfulness, tenacity, good humour. 

Thank you Laura, for the systems you devised, the order you created, and the values you embodied. Not forgetting the next-level spreadsheet formulae, the music, and of course the cake! We’re very definitely missing you already.

These are the thoughts she left with us to share.

 How do you evaluate the life of a General Manager*? Let me count the ways…

After 4 years with the company, I’ll be handing back my keys and my laptop and closing the door for one last time today. It’s been a uniquely challenging period for Third Angel. I joined just after their brilliantly ambitious performance Inherited Cities, a piece devised and co-created with more than 50 young Sheffielders, and before their hugely successful 3 week run of The Department of Distractions at the Crucible Studio at the start of 2019. 

Excavating my desk revealed those bits of paper that someone handed me when I started because they didn’t want to throw them away

Much of the rest of that year was spent preparing for a national tour of The Department due to take place in March 2020… Having to cancel half of that tour was a crushing blow, but the impacts of the pandemic on our families, our loved ones and the sector, have been deeper and more wide-ranging than any of us could have imagined at that point. The reverberations are still being felt. Nevertheless, I’m super proud of how we have supported each other through these challenging times.

But for me personally, the other ingredient bubbling in the pot over the past couple of years has been my increasing awareness of the urgency and importance of addressing the interconnected issues of social justice and climate justice. When the opportunity arose to work with one of the organisations whose writing and thinking had been inspiring me (MAIA Group in Birmingham, you can read more about their approach here), it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

 So how DO you evaluate the life of an Executive Director or General Manager?

·       In business plans? In a period of unprecedented uncertainty, it felt like we were constantly being asked to write new business plans; an exercise of the imagination that stretched even the most creative members of the team. Maybe we’ve only written 4 in that time, but it felt like a LOT more!

·       In funding applications? Since bringing the fundraising activity in-house in 2019, I’ve personally written 29 funding bids. 9 of these were successful, which approximated to around £40k in trusts and foundations support for our work with young people and community groups. A 30% success rate feels pretty good to me.

I’m going to miss my commute along the Sheaf. Over the last 4 years I’ve seen mallards, moorhens, yellow wagtails, a family of Mandarin ducklings, herons, kingfishers and a dipper (once!) on this little stretch

·       In recruitment? In just four years, we’ve done seven different rounds of recruitment, resulting in five new staff (some on fixed term contracts so not all at the same time) and five new trustees. At one point at the end of 2021, we had eight staff members, the biggest the Third Angel team has ever been.

·       In board papers? Looking at our files, we have created a whopping 656 Board papers in the 4 years since I joined! Allowing for duplicates, agendas and papers written by other members of the team, I think it’s likely I’ve written between 2-300 papers for our Board during that time. Phew!

Actually, the measure that I care about most doesn’t really lend itself to being counted. I’d love to be evaluated by how the team have felt about working for Third Angel during the time that I’ve been here. I guess you’d have to ask them…

*and latterly Executive Director

Well, as she asked: the team felt they were in safe, reliable, wise and friendly hands! We wish Laura the very best as she deploys her outstanding talents with MAIA Group, and look forward to watching them go from strength to strength.


We hope she doesn’t mind us using this Slightly Serious portrait, but we have a shocking dearth of images of Laura!

2021 has got off to a cracking start at Third Angel HQ, with not one but TWO new members of staff joining us in January. The two posts, Digital Marketing Manager and Community Producer, are integral to the programme of work we’ll be delivering this year and we’re looking forward to telling you all about that very soon.  

So, without further ado, we’re delighted to introduce Helen Varley, who will be turbo-charging our digital communications. Let’s hand over so she can say Hi in her own words (and pictures. The pictures are important. You’ll see…)

I’m Helen and I’m SUPER EXCITED to be part of the Third Angel team in the role of Digital Marketing Manager.

I’m delighted be working for Third Angel. The arts have been such an important part of my life and personal development and I’m pleased to be in a role where I can share that with others.

A bit about me…

I’ve always been passionate about theatre, art and books. I made my first debut on stage at just nine years old. As I’ve got older, I’ve dabbled in loads of different mediums, from playwriting and crafting to photography, I just LOVE telling stories and experimenting with new ways to share them. Life is too short to have just one creative outlet!

I fell in love with digital content creation while studying for my MA in Journalism in London and turned this passion into my career. I have worked on some amazing factual and scripted shows and events, including the Radio 1 Teen Awards, Tracy Beaker Returns and my personal favourite, Blue Peter. I don’t like to brag, but some of the digital content I have produced has been nominated for awards, including a BAFTA! I’ve also done a presentation to HRH Prince William and met so many amazing people and celebrities, although I still feel a little embarrassed that I once mistook Justin Bieber for the office intern – oops!

I’m a bit of a geek at heart, and loved working with all kinds of stars and performers while on Blue Peter. Here I am with Boogie Storm, a Stormtrooper inspired dance troupe who placed third in Britain’s Got Talent.

I spent eleven happy years at the BBC, but I was made redundant from my post as Senior Content Producer last year as a result of the global pandemic. At the time, it felt utterly heart breaking and terrifying, but looking back it was a blessing in disguise as it meant I could rediscover my true passions exploring and supporting the arts. I’m so happy to be starting this new chapter with a company like Third Angel.

When I saw the Digital Marketing Manager role advertised, I knew straight away that I wanted it. I am very lucky to be working for a small company with big ideas and a bucketload of passion for telling great stories. As it is a part time role, I’m going to be spending the rest of my time working on my debut novel, which is currently on its second edit.

Although I’ve only been at Third Angel a couple of days, I’m itching to get started. I’ve already seen some of the TOP SECRET plans for upcoming shows and all I can say is I hope you are following us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as big news is heading your way and you don’t want to miss it! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list to be the first to hear about it all…

Llamas and alpacas are my favourite! In another life, I’d probably have been a llama farmer…

There's lots more information about making and touring Third Angel projects 2008-2017 on our original blog, and 2017-2023 on the blog on this site.