Name: Sylvia Callister
Role: UK Administrator
Based in: Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Sylvia has worked at the African Children’s Choir’s UK administration office since January 1999.
The UK office is based in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, not far from where Sylvia grew up, and close to where she now lives with her husband of 26 years.
After studying business at the University of Ulster Sylvia went on to have three children, Chloe, Tim and Clara. Talking about her children Sylvia beamed “My eldest daughter Chloe got married last year, which was a hugely proud moment for our family, Tim is 22yrs old and a Game Arts graduate and Clara is on her gap year with ambitions to work with children in the future.”
Previous to joining the African Children’s Choir Sylvia worked as a Sales Representative for the pharmaceutical company Smith & Nephew and after having her children she worked in the General Office at a local Grammar School.
Now, as the UK Administrator for the African Children’s Choir, and as part of the International Executive Team, Sylvia is tasked with the important job of co-ordinating all UK choir tours and special events. Sylvia is the main contact for UK bookings and publicity and acts as the vital liaison between choir tour leaders and venues. Sylvia’s role is extremely varied, she could be organizing Choir children’s visa’s in the morning and then dealing with major promotional events in the afternoon, including last years performance for the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee Concert.
To get to know Sylvia and her significant role in the organization further, we asked her a few questions about her experience working for the ACC…
What has been your most outstanding memory since working at the ACC?
There have been so many it would be impossible to single out just one. Highlights for me have included my involvement in the Choir’s performance at Live Aid and of course, meeting the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee Concert in June last year. My role has allowed me to visit places and see things that I would not have imagined possible. Another stand out moment in my experience has to be attending the Billy Graham Evangelical Conference in 2000.
What has been your proudest moment?
When I see how the children’s performances touch people, it really brings it home as to why I do what I do. One concert in Belfast, the children were singing a beautiful, heart-warming rendition of ‘this little light of mine’ when I saw an elderly lady in her late 70’s, uplifted by the experience, singing along, their spirit touching her with every word they sung. Their effect on people is inspirational.
What three words best describe your job?
I don’t have three words, more of a phrase – ‘Like a little duck’ i.e. paddling frantically but happy and calm on the surface.
What would you say to anyone reading this who is thinking of becoming a host family or volunteer for the ACC?
Don’t worry about your age; you do not necessarily need to be young and single to help the ACC make a difference. Whatever your stage in life, if you are open and free the Lord will use you.
Who is your inspiration?
I am challenged by the Saddleback Church. I also take inspiration from Bill Hybels, the Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. He explores how to give and volunteer in different ways, to forget about you and give to others, to have a serving heart.
Looking to the future of the ACC, what are you most excited about?
I am excited about the organization reaching out to different groups of people who haven’t been reached before and the new ways in which we can achieve this.