Many readers will know that GCVS chief executive, Helen Macneil, is retiring in June. As the proud chair of GCVS who has worked alongside Helen for the last seven years, I have the unenviable task of trying to sum up in a few words her enormous contribution to the organisation and to the third sector in Glasgow and beyond.
Helen has been a passionate and persistent champion of charities and community groups and of their capacity to transform lives and communities. This has often placed her in challenging positions when fighting for the recognition that the third sector so richly deserves.
Her strategic overview coupled with a deep knowledge of the sector has made her a powerful advocate for over 25 years. She has represented Glasgow and the charitable sector on numerous national stages; her energy, passion and determination ensuring the sector’s reach, outcomes and expertise were promoted in the public domain and its significant role in helping citizens and communities to both survive and thrive in an increasingly challenging world.
Colleagues in GCVS and beyond describe how Helen has continued to champion the sector and about how much they’ve learned from her. They talk about her extensive knowledge of Glasgow and her insight into the variety, flexibility – and foibles – which make our sector uniquely placed to contribute to key public policy agendas such as health and care, community planning, housing and poverty.
People talk of her passion and energy – and of late night replies to emails if an issue was urgent! She never once took her eye off the ball or missed an opportunity to promote and fight for the sector she loves deeply. On a more personal level, staff at GCVS have told me about the support she has offered them, being a shoulder during difficult times and responding compassionately to the life challenges faced by staff. That compassion was evident even when Helen herself was facing her own health challenges.
Helen has supported the board of GCVS to steer the organisation through the good times – and the more difficult times. As Chair I rely on her expertise and guidance and can say on behalf of the entire Board of Management that we appreciate how she advocates for the charity and community sector, no matter the risks or challenges. GCVS is losing a truly professional, caring and skilful leader and we will miss her all.
On behalf of GCVS, the board, staff and the wider sector, thank you Helen. We wish you joy and happiness as you move into the next phase of your life. Don’t be a stranger!