Meet our Board Members - Tina Tuohy

Tina has been involved with the North Prospect community for years as a Councillor for the ward and now as Plymouth Community Homes board member, she has always been keen to help the community where she can.  

Tina was born in pre-war Berlin, her father was a foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail and her mother was a research assistant in a hospital working on tuberculosis. Tina’s grandfather had been a Major General in WW1 fighting on the Russian front and were landed gentry very much out of favour with the Nazis.

When war broke out Tina was on the last train out of Berlin along with her mother, while her father stayed behind to cover the outbreak of the war. Shortly after her father joined the Navy – first on the Atlantic run and then in Naval Intelligence while her mother worked in a hospital in London making vaccines for the British troops.

Tina was sent to boarding school in Salcombe to keep her safe: “This idea wasn’t welcomed by me as I spoke very little English and with a German accent it made life for me somewhat difficult.” Tina spent a lot of her early years reading as an escape mechanism for what was happening around her. 

“When the school closed for the holidays I was farmed out to any family who would take me in – and these varied considerably. My favourite place was a farm in Essex where the farmer’s son took me poaching and taught me how to catch rabbits. My father dropped in to see me while he was on leave and was horrified to find me talking with a broad Essex accent and using colourful language – I was posted back to school immediately by train in charge of the guard!”

When the war had ended, Tina was sent to a school in Switzerland for a time and then to another school in London. During this time her parents had separated and she lived with her mother in South Kensington. She left school with 6 O Levels and spent a year in the Middle East as her father was now based in Cairo and she helped to look after her half siblings.

Tina decided that she wanted to be an artist so she went and passed an art course and got jobs doing temporary work and studied art first in evening classes in the Chelsea School of Art and then later, full time at the City and Guilds before finally the Central School of Art.

In 1970 Tina met her husband Ray and moved to Plymouth. They have been together for 48 years and have two children and two grandchildren. When their children were grown up Tina went back to full time education and became a mature student at Exeter University studying Archaeology and gained a BA Hons degree and later her PhD. After that, Tina was offered a teaching job in the Exeter University’s Department for Continuing Adult Education. She still teaches online archaeology for Exeter.

In 1978 the family moved to North Prospect, with her husband working for the parks department for the council and Tina was a fulltime mum and became involved in community groups and was a volunteer community worker all the time up until 2012 when PCH began the regeneration of the area.

Tina was heavily involved in the early stages of the regeneration and the birth of PCH, later becoming the resident representative on the Design Group for Phase 1 of North Prospect. Tina won an award for her extensive community work – the Jane Atkey Award which she received at the House of Commons. In 2009 Tina became a City Councillor and went on to the Planning Committee of Plymouth City Council: “the skills I learnt over this period working with communities and housing development are the basis of what I bring to the PCH Board now.

“When a chance to join the PCH Board as Council nominee, I jumped at the chance as it would give me an opportunity to use all the skills that I picked up and enable me to make a difference for people in their communities.”

“My first impressions of PCH came when I was interviewed for the position by Clive Turner and Elaine Pellow and remember them being friendly and helpful because I was very nervous. I was also nervous at my first PCH Board Meeting and was very impressed by the way things were run and how well everyone works together – the board runs on oiled wheels.

“It has been a steep learning curve for me becoming a Board Member, this is the first time that I’ve ever been involved in an organisation like this and I contribute what I can and have learnt a lot about housing associations, specifically from a landlord’s perspective rather than a tenant which has enabled me to have a balanced view when I attend meetings.

“I think the Board have handled a lot of difficult challenges that have been thrown at them and in particular I think the challenge of the Grenfell fire has affected us but we have done all we can in the circumstances and taking good care of our residents.

Tina cites her proudest achievement as the North Prospect history house. Tina worked with PCH to create a small museum of people’s memories of the old North Prospect estate: “PCH lent me a house due for demolition three years ago and were very supportive in getting it set up. The exhibitions have been in the Plymouth History Festivals for the last three years and we have had resident led event on the site.

“We turned the old Anderson bomb shelter into the stable at Bethlehem at Christmas and we have open air carol singing at our Christmas party. Elaine Pellow has always taken the time to come to our events. The house is due to come down next year but I am hoping to get a replacement in Phase 4.

“I’m really looking forward to the future for PCH, I think we will build a number of new houses both affordable and social as they are desperately needed in the city, including more of the impressive Passivhaus schemes.”