Duncan Lustig-Prean, Centre Director of the Ledward Centre, announces his retirement from the role.

Chris Gull June 19, 2022

Duncan has released this statement today:

“The Ledward Centre has occupied every waking thought and many of my sleeping ones for more than three years. It is a project about which I am absolutely passionate and one which has already started to turn individual lives around. As it succeeds it will transform the lives of whole communities.

It was with huge pleasure and much relief that we opened on time for Brighton Fringe at the start of May and had a highly successful festival.  This was only achieved with far too few volunteers working far too many hours.

When I joined the Board over three years ago, I did so with the intention of delivering the project.  As the recession post-Covid developed it became clear that our future plans are highly dependent not upon grant giving trusts but from fundraising and gifts from our own community. It will not be an easy task nor will we be able to deliver all our ambitions for many, many more months. What we have delivered is a beautiful café and events space. In the coming weeks we will complete the kitchen behind the scenes to produce a selection of hot and cold meals. This is vital to make the café profitable so that it can play its part in raising funds for our plans downstairs.

My intention was always to serve for three years, to negotiate the Lease and redevelopment plans, devise the plans for the building from our community consultations, to deliver a working venue and to see it operating. While there is much more work to be done over the coming years, my three years and my promises have been delivered. It is time for my unpaid sabbatical to end and for me to return to some paid speaking work and for fresh eyes and new leadership to take over.

I will be retiring as managing director on 1 July. We have in place plans for at least two full time staff and one volunteer to replace me.

It will be difficult to leave behind something which has occupied me for so long and for which I am so  passionate and I will miss our staff, volunteers and customers from whom I have learned so much and who have taught me how to be a far more informed and better ally. In traditional naval style, upon retirement I will keep away from the Centre for a little while to enable my successors to establish their positions. I will then return as a customer and possibly in future to help as a volunteer.

I wish my successors good luck and all the best and I hope that you will give all your support to the Ledward Centre which is transforming the lives of so many people.

Thank you for allowing me the honour of serving our wonderful LGBTQ+ communities and please play your part in making the Ledward Centre a success.

Love and best wishes to you all.”

Chris Gull, Chair of The Brighton Rainbow Fund, which acquired the lease and facilitated the early setting up of the project to make James LedwardÂŽs dream a reality, also released a statement.

“The Ledward Centre would simply not be so advanced without Duncan. For once the clichĂ© “We couldnÂŽt have done it without you” is totally accurate. We couldnÂŽt have.

As soon as we were able to announce that we were going to be able to acquire the lease on the premises in Jubilee Street we had a number of people contacting us and offering help, and volunteering. I selected 5 of those initial applicants, with the relevant skills, experience and availability, to form a working party to move forward with stratagising and planning, and Duncan was in that first group, and took on more and more responsibility.

It took a frustratingly long time to actually get the lease signed, but that gave us the time to listen to the LGBTQ+ Community, through an online consultation, followed by focus groups with specific groups and communities within the diverse LGBTQ+ Community, and to feed the results into a feasibility study, to work with architects and others to turn the wishlist into a plan.

The lease was finally signed at the end of January this year, and Duncan to all intents and purposes moved into TLC, often working over 100 hours a week in miserable conditions to push the initial phase of construction  (the reception and café-lounge), and deliver the project on time and in budget. We stand in awe of this achievement, and of the huge personal commitment that Duncan has made. It will never be forgotten.

We will miss his skills and experience as we embark on further phases of TLC and wish him well as he returns to his successful career as a public speaker, and to getting back to the allotment, and we look forward to welcoming him “home” to attend events, or just to drop into TLC as a member.

Going all American now we sincerely want to “Thank You For Your Service Duncan”, it is much appreciated, and we really couldn®t have done it without you”