In the My Kind of Job spotlight this week is Eimear McCooey, legacy adviser at Marie Curie Northern Ireland and chair of ‘Will to Give’
What’s your job?
As Marie Curie’s first dedicated Northern Ireland legacy adviser my role is to raise awareness of the importance of gifts in wills to the charity. By organising a programme of Gift for the Future and stewardship events, developing partnerships with local solicitors and delivering a will writing scheme, I hope to help people to talk comfortably about making a will and consider leaving a gift to Marie Curie.
How did you get there?
I started my career in hospitality management and spent my placement year working in The K Club in Kildare. A nine-month placement turned into almost eight years working in various parts of the five star resort working my way up from sales, to reception manager to managing and supporting the resort’s property and membership portfolio. After working on the Ryder Cup in 2006 I felt like I needed a new challenge and I took a change of direction and got into fundraising. Since then I have worked with a mixed portfolio of community, corporate, events and major donor, through working on capital appeals at Laura Lynn House and CLIC Sargent’s Homes from Home Appeal, before taking up the legacy role at Marie Curie.
Do you have a typical working day?
Not at all, and that’s what I love about it. I could be doing anything from meeting with Marie Curie supporters in our Belfast Hospice, dealing with queries from solicitors to organising a “Death Café”, such as the one we have coming up as part of Philanthropy Fortnight, which is an annual celebration of charitable giving. This year it will be held from May 14 to 25 and explores the numerous ways to contribute to causes and make a difference to society. There are many events across the two weeks and it’s a great way to explore the best ways to give.
What other skills do you need in your role?
Positivity, adaptability, the gift of the gab and a listening ear. It’s really important to make people feel comfortable talking about something as personal and sensitive as their last wishes and the legacy they want to leave behind.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The opportunities I have to get involved in lots of different areas, such as in my new challenge as chairperson of ‘Will to Give’. It is so incredibly satisfying working with people across the sector to influence positive change for people living in Northern Ireland. My aspiration for ‘Will to Give’ is that it will continue to go from strength to strength and that the group continues to be creative and innovative in our approach.
What do you think are the greatest challenges of the job?
Trying to change people’s perception about talking about death and dying. I think it’s fair to say that most of us don’t like to talk about what’s going to happen to us in the future, so it comes as no surprise that the majority of us have not made a will. As part of ‘Will to Give’ and Philanthropy Fortnight we want to change this; we plan for life’s major milestones: births, weddings, anniversaries but most of us shy away from talking about and planning for death – yet it is the one thing that is guaranteed for us all!
What did you want to be when you were at school?
A geography teacher, an accountant, a travel rep or a shopkeeper like my dad. It changed every single day!
What advice would you give someone considering a career in your profession?
Go for it. Working in the charity sector and particularly with an organisation such as Marie Curie is hugely rewarding – even playing a small part in making sure that people can spend their final moments in the comfort of their own homes, where they can have family and friends around them, and neighbours can pop by for a visit.
What’s the most common question people ask when they find out what you do?
Is that not really depressing? This couldn’t be further from the truth. Talking to people about making a will is important because it gives them the peace of mind of knowing their wishes will be respected and their loved ones are looked after, whether that be family, friends or even a chosen charity.
How do you like to relax outside work?
Anything to do with fitness or food. A few years ago I started running through Jog Belfast’s Couch to 5k programme, and this year I ran the Madrid Marathon.
:: This year’s Philanthropy Fortnight, a celebration of charitable giving, takes place from May 14 to 25.