SPOTLIGHT ON … A new series where we ask a local personality a set of probing questions.
She’s a woman of many hats – a film-maker, events manager and passionate champion of conservation charity The Fairyland Trust – but here in King’s Lynn you are more likely to know her as the ‘public face’ of the Vancouver Quarter.
I met 35-year-old Abbie Panks on a quiet Tuesday afternoon in the intimate atmosphere of Crofters in King Street.
So what’s it like to be Abbie Panks?
Busy! I really enjoy what I do. Just can’t imagine not being busy. Although I’m very organised at work, by contrast my private life is a little less so!
What’s your role at the Vancouver Quarter?
As Marketing and Events Manager, I’m responsible for overall marketing and promotion of the Centre and all events, community relations and advertising within the centre.
How would you describe yourself?
Happy go lucky I’m pretty much always smiling
Is that the way your friends would see you?
Some of my friends would describe me as a bit of a whirlwind because of the way I’m always rushing around, some would simply describe me as “a bit scatty”. In work I’m so organised, out of work I suppose I’m a bit the opposite.
Here’s what one of her friends actually said:
Caroline: “She has a huge heart, is loyal, generous and massive fun, but is also useless at putting herself first and saying no to anything or anyone.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working with different types of people, and I enjoy being challenged creatively.
What do you do to relax, away from work?
My Allotment – I’ve been working on it for about a year and a half and absolutely love it. I grew far too much last year though, the upshot was, I didn’t go to the supermarket for vegetables for 6 months…but I have learnt there are only so many courgettes a person can eat! I also love walking on Norfolk beaches, especially Brancaster. Music and reading. I read a lot!
What previous work have you done?
My background is producing videos, I’ve been doing that on an off for the past 15 years. Last year I made about 20 films and continue to do so, I’ve just joined Maze Media (Kings Lynn based Marketing Agency) as a freelance producer to make films for their clients, I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. I’ve also been working in event management and PR or around 12 years.
How did you get involved with the Fairyland Trust
I’ve been involved with the Fairyland Trust for 8 years. I received an email from somebody saying they were taking their daughter to a Fairyland Trust event. It mentioned that anybody interested in volunteering should get in touch. So I met with one of the founders, and we really hit it off. I could see so much potential and the charities objectives were very close to my heart so, I was really eager to get involved.
I took over the PR work for charity and from then on my role developed and I became more and more involved, For the past 7 years I’ve been on the management board for the trust , it’s such a wonderful charity to be involved with, I cannot imagine it not being part of my life.
The Trust has now reached in excess of 55,000 children, teaching them about nature, through our events and workshops. It’s so rewarding when you get positive feedback from parents who tell us that because of our event they can now spot a certain type of butterfly, or pick out, for example an Oak tree.
You’ve described yourself as a “woman of many hats” What else are you involved with?
Alongside the Vancouver Quarter and Fairyland Trust, I am involved with Maze Media. I also have involvement with Downham Market Festival, Norfolk running group, The Norracechicks, also I sit on a whole host of committees for various different things…as I said, I like to keep busy.
What’s your relationship with Twitter?
I’m in love with it. I’ve only been on it for 18 months, but I’ve met so many brilliant people, and met up with quite a lot of them too. It’s very useful in my job, but I also find it a stress reliever.
What’s your favourite place in Norfolk?
Brancaster. I prefer it in the winter, with the whole beach to walk on. It’s my thinking place. In fact I love the whole of the Norfolk coast. Although I’ve lived in and out of Norfolk, I’m really a Norfolk gal. I hate it if I can’t see greenery or big skies.
What type of music do you like?
I appreciate all kinds of music, I grew up in a household full of music, my dad would play me Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Neil Young and my mum Abba so I started to appreciate all kinds of music from an early age.
I love soul, especially Northern Soul. I have to have music around me all the time. I’m often wearing headphones in the office..music helps me think..
Favourite song / piece of music?
All you need is love by Beatles and Into the The Mystic by Van Morrison. I also like Blondie and early hip-hop and I love the Mamas and Papas.
Anne of Green Gables – It’s been a favourite since childhood. I read it once or twice every year, and always get completely lost in it.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris has always been a favourite too. I Love all the classics like Jane Austin. Even Tolstoy!
Taxi Driver. I love the work of Martin Scorcese. He is an incredible director. I also have a real soft spot for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Generally I prefer the older Hollywood films.
You’ve just started a “Handwriting Project” – what’s that all about?
I was in my office a month ago and I realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen handwriting. Everything seems to be done electronically these days. So I’m putting together an art piece featuring samples of people’s handwriting, the final piece will be a digital art project. I’m really excited about it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I don’t look ahead too much. Lots more film work and creative stuff. I love my job at the Vancouver Quarter – It’s really challenging, and I’m working with a great team.
What vegetable are you?
I’m not sure really, I suppose I’d be a tomato, mostly because I eat loads of them. When I was a child I used to go into my grandad’s greenhouse, sit down, and eat loads of them!
If you could be someone famous who would you be?
I don’t want to be anyone else, I’m just happy being me.
What superpower would you choose?
I dream about flying all the time, so I would be Wonder Woman. Then I could get to places much faster and avoid traffic!
I love Autumn, when the leaves change and light draws in a bit. I enjoy lighting the fire in my house and making it all cosy.
I understand you were bullied at school?
I am one of many that were, I suppose that’s what spurred me on to do things in life and to an extent, probably made me the person I am today. I tend to try and focus on the positive. Worrying for me is a mis-use of energy as it ultimately doesn’t get you anywhere.
And finally, what things would you like to be remembered for?
I would just like to be remembered for making a difference.. I just don’t know what that difference is yet.
As told to John Beck.