Society Diary interviews... Debra Allcock Tyler

14 Dec 2023 Interviews

CEO of Directory of Social Change, Debra Allcock-Tyler, tells our columnist why she cannot have tinsel in her house and what she will be having for Christmas dinner...

Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive, DSC

Merry Thursday to you, dear reader. Welcome to a festive installment of Diary interviews with the chief executive of Directory of Social Change, Debra Allcock-Tyler. 

With Christmas just around the corner, Allcock-Tyler agreed to sit down with Diary and be asked very important questions about the holiday. 

In this interview, we learn whether she prefers a sleigh ride or snowball fight and how her Bassett Hound’s tinsel-eating tendency means the decoration is forbidden in her house. 

Read our exchange below. 

How are you?

“Absolutely knackered. In all my nearly 40 years working within our sector, I have never known an environment so brutal, in terms of funding, culture wars, anxiety about the future, increased demand for services with not enough resources to meet it and folk hovering on the edge of burnout. However, I am also full of hope. Our sector is incredibly bloody resilient in the face of monumental challenges and we will prevail.”    

What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

“Honestly? The fact that my entire team has the whole period off so I know they have a bank of time (technically enforced by us) when they can just stop.”  

What is your family’s strange Christmas tradition?

“None now, but as a child my parents used to hide our Christmas presents so the four of us would have to go searching for them. To be honest, it was a ruse to let them stay longer in bed!”  

Baubles or tinsel?

“Baubles. I do love tinsel, but my monstrous Bassett Hound Arthur eats tinsel so we can’t have it (although it was easier finding poo in the garden when it had tinsel in it to be fair!)”  

What will you be eating on Christmas day? Spare no details please. 

“I’m a pescatarian so grilled tuna with dauphinoise potatoes, swede and carrot mash (my favourite), brussels sprouts (love them – my partner hates them), broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. My partner is a meat eater so he’ll probably have either chicken or beef with roast potatoes. But my favourite Christmas food is Christmas Day supper when we have cheese, biscuits, pickles, smoked salmon, dips, crisps, a bit of salad, all the bits! Shed loads of wine and port! And Bucks Fizz whilst opening pressies on Christmas morning of course!”  

Sleigh ride or snowball fight?

“Sleigh ride. I hate snow though. It’s pretty for about five minutes and then it’s just dirty slush and annoyance!”  

What’s the longest board game you’ve ever played on Christmas day?

“A game of Monopoly which just never ended (largely because my brother cheats!) – it lasted about five hours and in the end we abandoned it because we all fell out!”  

Do you wish it could be Christmas every day?

“Goodness no. Can’t imagine anything worse. Let the days be the days they are supposed to be!”  

Worst gift you’ve ever received?

“My partner’s mother (now deceased) gave us for our first Christmas a weird wood carving of an entwined couple. She normally had fantastic taste so God knows what she was thinking. It’s horrible, but I’m the sort of person who has to use/display all the gifts I get given so it’s on the wall. In fact, my house is full of tat I hate and wouldn’t choose but is there because…well – love.”  

What’s the true meaning of Christmas?


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