Ethical achiever and sustainable chap
Barrie Thomas is the proud head franchisee of The Body Shop NZ. Over the years his staff and customers have supported a number of excellent charities in developing countries and NZ including One Percent Collective charity, SpinningTop. Barrie hails from north of London and worked as a social worker and for Myers department stores in Australia before heading up The Body Shop in Australia and, more recently, NZ. Barrie is fired up about protecting our planet and helping people reach their potential.
What’s happening in Barrie's world for 2015?
Nothing special that I’m yet aware of. 2014 was a good year for The Body Shop and I’d like to build on that success during 2015. I’d like to be out and about around the stores more this year but I say that every year and it always seems to be difficult to escape the office! Maybe this will be the year I do it. I would definitely like to get myself more involved with some of the NGO’s we work with. While The Body Shop NZ does support many organisations (Oxfam, SAFE, Cruelty Free International to name a few), the two that are closest to my heart are SpinningTop and The Outlook for Someday. The work SpinningTop does with refugee children on the Thai Burma border is incredibly important and is actively supported by all staff of The Body Shop here. The work of Outlook for Someday in encouraging young people throughout NZ to produce films on sustainability issues is no less important as sustainability awareness is going to need to increase if we are going to be able to cope with the environmental challenges that face the world today.
Describe the most generous person you know. How have they influenced you?
I can’t pick just one person. I think there are an awful lot of people who are generous with something very precious, and that’s their time. The time they take trying to make the world a better place rather than just being concerned with feathering their own nests. In my many years with The Body Shop I have worked with many, mainly young, people who fit into this category and I find this incredibly generous of them.
Can you name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated?
I think if people listened more and talked less then there would be greater understanding of other people and the world would be a better place.
Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why?
The books of the 20th century educator, AS Neill (Summerhill and his Dominie series) were instrumental in forming my thoughts about human nature. He believed that children were inherently good and given freedom they would make good choices. He helped me to see that recognizing the good in people is more helpful than looking for the bad.
I’m not a religious person but I do find the Serenity Prayer inspiring. It is ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference’. I find that heeding this avoids an awful lot of wasted energy.
Sometimes I find music inspiring and The Waterboys ‘The Whole of the Moon’ has stuck in my memory over the years. There is debate about what it means, but to me the line in the lyrics ‘I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon’ helps me to remember that different people can look at the same thing but see something completely different. There are few universal truths and we need to be tolerant of other people’s views.