It will come as no surprise to anyone who lived through the crucible of 2020 that life at The Loyal Workshop looked decidedly different over the last twelve months. The global pandemic and the ebb and flow of lockdowns haven’t been the sole reason for changes among the Loyal family however. For our crew, last year also saw the farewelling of foreign team mates, the welcoming of our youngest one, and immensely accelerated growth in the leadership and responsibility of our local crew (which, may we add, they took like absolute legends!). With the uncertainty that last year threw at us all, we are looking forward to the coming months with a healthy dose of trepidation and anticipation. We are whole-heartedly wanting to be sensitive to the growth that occurred in our physical absence and are continuing to move forward in the vein of empowering local leaders and listening to neighbourhood voices. Isn’t it crazy how a crisis sometimes has the wisdom to you in a direction that you know you needed to head but struggled to go?! So, with all of that in mind, here’s our line-up of Loyal changes that we want to fill you in on!
For the large part of 2020, all of the Loyal foreign crew were based in New Zealand. The Beislys were continuing their sabbatical, the Hughes family returned in January for some scheduled time back home, and then after the pandemic hit, Joel and Lizzie made the tough decision to temporarily return to New Zealand. For the first time in The Loyal Workshop history, no foregin team members were in Kolkata for three quarters of the year. We were challenged to navigate new rhythms (and time-zones!) of work and juggle the mystery of when we might be able to return to the neighbourhood, workshop and people we love. Talk about some crazy times! Our local staff faced lockdown and a closed workshop for four months of the year too, and then in returning to work, they have proudly risen to the opportunity of increased leadership and ownership over the business. If anything, we hope that in our absence, both the Loyal artisans and support staff have a more solid grasp on understanding that Loyal is their business. Like we mentioned earlier, they have been legends – showing collective resilience, resourcefulness and responsibility through a time that none of us foresaw!
The Hughes Family
Towards the end of last year we farewelled the Hughes family following their decision to end their time at The Loyal Workshop. Nathan, Rosey and their two girls began their time at Loyal by diving into language study in 2017 and then juggling continued learning with part-time roles in the workshop. Nathan’s games of ‘Simon Says’, Rosey’s banana cakes, and their girls’ visits to the workshop will be missed by the Loyal crew! Saying farewell in the thick of a pandemic is difficult to do, especially when you’re prevented from making a visit to Kolkata, however we were able to honour the Hughes at our Loyal Advocate event in October and we wish them peace as they settle in New Zealand and step into something new.
The Loyal Workshop’s freshest member arrived on the scene at the beginning of November when Joel and Lizzie welcomed their baby daughter, Lydia Jean, into the world! She’s a pretty content kind of girl who has brought so much joy and richness into their lives (not a bad trade off for a little less sleep!). They’re pumped for LJ to meet her aunties and uncles at the workshop in the near future and so are versing her in Bengali songs and chats as a pre-amble to getting on the plane there. Leaving Kolkata in April was hard for Joel and Lizzie, however there is nothing quite like the long-awaited arrival of a vulnerable babe to offer a healthy dose of perspective and to leave them feeling stoked about their return.
The Beisly Family
Speaking of returns, Paul, Sarah, Mikayla and Malachi are returning to Kolkata at the end of February following their sabbatical in New Zealand (which, cheers COVID, was a little longer than expected!). For the faithful Loyal supporters out there, you’ll appreciate how momentous this is on both a personal and communal level. The Beisly’s have been back in working roles for a year now, however come March, they’ll be the first of our foreign crew to be back on the ground and settling into new life and work rhythms alongside the local crew. This will look a different to how it did in the early days, but it’s safe to say change has become a constant in our world recently, so more on that at a later date. For now, The Loyal Workshop is so energized to soon have its founders back in town! At the start we wrote that 2020 was something of a crucible, however it also offered Loyal some gifts. Among these was the gift to step back, when maybe we otherwise wouldn’t have, and allow room for capacity to grow deeper within our local staff. They’ve truly championed this year, and as we look forward to the year ahead we want to whole-heartedly empower and support the breadth of our team, helping them to work in their strengths, take risks, and grow in freedom. Continuing to move in this direction feels exciting to us and we can’t wait to keep you posted on how it goes!