Dr Trevor Smith

Great to catch up with you Trevor. Firstly, can you tell us about the roles you had within BAPEN before becoming President?

I have been somewhat involved with BAPEN work since 2009, so a long time! I was BANS Chair 2009-2018, plus I sat on BAPEN Council during that same time period. I was also a member of the BAPEN Exec from 2011. It’s been great to be part of the organisation in a number of different capacities!

How prepared did you feel when you stepped into the role of President?

I knew BAPEN well so that helped a lot. I knew the structure; the core groups, the committees, the Executive, and most of the people. However, it was only when I stepped up into a senior role that I truly appreciated how much work goes on behind the scenes. I have some form of contact about BAPEN business every day, but we work really well as a team and I have fantatic support. The first year was a learning curve, and then Covid came! So with that in mind I think I was as prepared as I could be.

What attracted you to apply for the President role?

I think the President Elect format is a really good way to grasp and ease into the role whilst being supported in a transition period. BAPEN President is a hugely rewarding role which has enabled me to understand and contribute to every aspect of what BAPEN does. I think this extent of contribution really attracted me to the role. It has also opened doors to work with other organisations, including NHSE and other national organisations, particulary during Covid.

If you could go back in time, what 3 pieces of advice would you give to your former self at the time of becoming President?

  • Focus on a small number of things rather than trying to do it all.
  • Make time for colleagues, core groups and committees.
  • Strategy and planning are key.

… And pray there isn’t another pandemic!

How has being President of BAPEN changed your perspective of what is possible or what is not possible?

I have learnt that change can feel very slow but it is definitely possible. Trying to influence local and national policy is especially difficult but supporting work ‘on the ground’ can and does deliver benefits. People do listen to you as President and I’ve probably had more influence than I thought I would.

Have you done anything different through being President of BAPEN that perhaps you would not have had the chance to do beforehand?

Being involved with UK Malnutrition Awareness Week is something I am very proud of. Also being a member of the Malnutrition Task Force, whom BAPEN work closely with. Other highlights include participating in All Party Parliamentary Group meetings, being involved in helping to organise the first UK Optimal Nutritional Care for All (ONCA) Conference, and taking an active role in the media work for BAPEN.  

What would you say to anyone who may be interested in getting actively involved with BAPEN – whether that be on a committee or applying for the President Elect position?

I would say go for it! It is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun. You are really well supported and the team are fantastic. You don’t need to know BAPEN inside out to make a really important contribution. We really want to encourage anyone who is interested to apply for the President Elect role.

How do you balance the day job/BAPEN/life?

It is important to remember that you can’t do it all, so having a really clear focus on priorities is key. The Exec is a group effort and the rest of the team are brilliant – so you are in good company!

What support is there for the President Elect moving into the President role? Is it a lonely role, how does it work?

I took over the reigns from Simon Gabe at the conference in Harrogate with feelings of trepidation given his legacy in clinical nutrition. But there was then – and will be now – lots of support. You won’t be left on your own as it really is a team effort, and we now have three new and enthusiatic Trustees to support us as well. My take home message would be to go for it if you’re interested!