People and Business: Video volunteer

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The Independent Online
A FORMER long-time chief executive of Video Arts, the training film company co-owned by John Cleese, is to become the next head of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS). You may only have a hazy idea of what the WRVS does, but its new chairman, Tina Tietjen, aims to change all that.

"Our grant from the Government (currently pounds 5m) is being reduced, so we need to be self-sustaining," says Ms Tietjen.

The WRVS's 120,000 members do everything from delivering meals on wheels to the elderly to providing disaster relief (they helped with over 130 disasters last year alone). The WRVS also organised the removal of the lorryloads of flowers left over in Kensington Gardens following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Intriguingly, the WRVS includes 18,000 men.

This is all a long way from Ms Tietjen's long association with Video Arts, which started in 1974, two years after the company was founded. She was then working as a training adviser to the Industrial Society, and was consulted on its ground-breaking videos on staff training.

The company was the brainchild of Anthony Jay, the co-author of the TV series Yes Minister. She joined the company full time in 1978 and following an MBO in 1989 she became joint managing director.

And how did she find John Cleese to work with? "Very stimulating," came the diplomatic reply.