Art, Baking, and Puppy-Training: The creative ways the WIG team have stayed motivated

From day one of lockdown, it was an unspoken endeavour across the world: taking up/picking up/attempting a new hobby or skill. Nobody talked about it, and then suddenly our Instagram feeds were a riot of banana breads, crochet projects and HIIT workouts. As WIG continues to support the development of resilience and leadership skills through our cross-sector leadership programmes and online leadership seminars, we checked in with the WIG staff to see how they have grown their skills during lockdown. 

Simon Ancona, CEO - "Blues and scribbles" (Sample Simon's blues playing at your leisure here) 

Simon's scribbles


Fiona Petit, Deputy CEO - "Re-discovered my confidence in cooking. Actually cooking supper from scratch instead of bunging a ready meal in the microwave! And learning to bake again - self-taught, new recipes only, with my poor neighbours having to be polite volunteered volunteers! I have a very good FTA going though with one lot of neighbours - they would say otherwise but I know I get the better end of the deal!"

Paige Torrance, Talent Manager - "I've mostly been maintaining/learning French on Duolingo, and am listening to philosophy podcasts - I really recommend Philosophize This!"

Lydia Garrett, Charity Next Director and Talent Manager - "Other than a brief dabble with oil paints, I haven’t really started anything new but I have found the time to go all out on cooking. It's something I enjoyed before the pandemic but like many, have been able to really put time into during lockdown. I've found it an incredibly vital source of daily comfort. Some of my proudest creations are: vegan sushi from scratch, katsu ramen – yes it did taste like Wagamama! I've also made sourdough pizza, various types of pesto including broccoli and aubergine… arancini, and homemade chapatis and flatbreads." 

Lydia's culinary masterpieces

Stephanie Pearce, Event & Content Manager - "I have been learning patience doing ‘home schooling’, and perfecting my pancake flip as madam has them for breakfast almost every morning” 

Catherine Taylor, Head of Member Value - "Having just got a new puppy before lockdown, I've been discovering a lot about all the green spaces near me on dog walks"

Kristiina Krisa, CRM Data Manager - "I’ve had more time for reading, connecting with old friends, baking and vintage furniture restoration."

Kristiina's furniture upcycling

Tina Vifor, Head of Marketing - "I have a French phrase-a-day calendar on my desk as a gentle way to reimmerse myself into this language I haven’t spoken in years. I also found some very educational and humbling audiobooks inspired by current events in the world, and enjoyed a few online events, like Nudgestock (a festival of behavioural science), and of course WIG’s own virtual sessions!"


Edwin Oliver-Watts, Senior Charity Next & Talent Executive - "I can’t say I’ve gained any exciting new skills, but I have taken up running again, which feels like new given how long it had been since I’d last exercised properly."

Catherine (Spudd) Judd, Office Manager - " I’ve been perfecting my brownies and choc chip cookies. I’ve also honed my macaron making skills – my neighbours have benefitted.  I’ve been recipe testing lots of vegan goodies –enjoyed by my bootcamp colleagues.  Just sorry my work colleagues can’t enjoy the spoils!" (N.B., Spudd makes the best brownies in London, hands down.)

Spudd's bakes

Katie Richards, Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive - "I've had more time for yoga and have been working on front splits – full posture nearly complete!"


Stephanie Murphy, Senior Digital Marketing Executive - "I've been doing a lot of botanical drawing and exploring new culinary delights - recently made my first batch of kimchi! My birthday gift-to-self was a bike so I've been really enjoying heading out and exploring the leafy goodness of South West London."

Stephanie's lockdown activities


Saana Kärnä, Senior Events Executive - "Having been lucky enough to stay by the sea in Devon for three months during lockdown, I kept myself busy with some gardening. The house was recently bought from an 80-year-old hoarder and was desperately in need of some pretty hardcore TLC. My focus was on the garden, where I cleared and planted several flower beds and vegetable patches, ripped out more brambles and horsetail than I care to remember, grew flowers and vegetables from seed, and built some stone steps and a cold frame from recycled materials. Not only has my previously pretty poor knowledge of plants definitely improved (a recent visit to a National Trust garden made me feel like quite the horticulturalist), I’ve also learned to appreciate the surprisingly complex ecosystems found even in a normal English back garden. I’ve found myself tracking in wonder the activities of buzzards, seagulls, blue tits, blackbirds and their fledglings, moles, rabbits, slow worms, and gold fish to name just a few. The highlight of my week has now become watching Friday evening’s Gardener’s World with the whole household. Envying his bean poles, luscious citrus trees and trowels for every occasion has truly turned me into a little old lady – and I’m loving it!"

Saana's wholesome horticulturing

Louisa Forsbrey, Leadership & Marketing Assistant - "I have been volunteering with a free dog walking service to walk key workers' dogs when they do not have time. I’ve made a few furry friends and got my steps in!"

Andrew Catalano, Membership Engagement Manager - "I've enjoyed learning to appreciate my surroundings and local area. Evening walks in nearby parks and woods with my family. Welcoming a puppy in my life and enjoying going to dog training classes (socially distanced!)"

Danielle Wallace, Senior Leadership Programmes Executive - "My initial goal at the start of lock down was to learn the piano, but after only successfully opening my beginner's guide twice, I moved on to focus on my cooking skills and have tried out lots of new recipes. I have also enjoyed long bike rides in the country side."

Jamie Brunsdon, Event & Content Manager - "I’ve been using the massive reduction in training, competitions and coaching hours to work on some of my CrossFit weaknesses such as handstand walking. I have also overhauled my rowing technique and even completed a half marathon row for something to do one Saturday."

Harry Killick, Senior Membership & Leadership Executive - "I haven't really learnt any new skills, but I have started running quite a bit, which is always a plus. I have also unsuccessfully attempted to complete a puzzle, much to my frustration."(N.b. "It was a big yellow cottage with a big blue sky, and a lot of the yellow and blue pieces looked the same, but I completed the border, so I consider that a small victory")

Patrick Reihill, Head of Talent - "I've been running every other day, 10k is where I'm at, at the moment"