After many years on the show, it's now time for me to call up my inner Cilla Black and wish you all 'ta-ra for now'.
To put that a bit more precisely, I've now officially retired as the EHN support provider and have been succeeded by Adam Cliff, previously the Empty Homes Officer at Peterborough City Council and now at Rushcliffe.Borough Council.
Before you all breathe a huge sigh of relief, I’d better make you aware that I'll still be involved in the Network in various ways: I’ll be reverting to Treasurer – the position I held before becoming the paid support provider – and I will continue to support Adam as he grows into the job.
I feel immensely privileged to have been allowed to occupy this unique role for the best part of 10 years, providing support to a fine bunch of people, all facing the difficult challenge of bringing empty homes back into use. It is not easy work and there are no straightforward guidelines. It attracts a special type of person, prepared to go above and beyond whatever it says in their Job Description. You’re entitled to feel proud of what you do and it is regrettable that the pay scales rarely reflect what is actually involved.
For that entire stretch of ten years, my job has been made so much easier by the support and encouragement I've received from others. Mesages of appreciation from members have often made a huge difference to my day. And EHN members themselves may not realise that the smooth functioning of the organisation depends on the commitment of our Executive members, drawn from the various regional forums or otherwise, all of whom have been unstinting in their commitment.
At this point I must mention by name the three Chairs who have had to listen to my various moans, whinges and not-so-bright ideas over the years: Darryl Lawrence (Rochdale), Matt Smith (Birmingham), and Nick Pritchard-Gordon (Reading). The job would have been impossible had I not been able to turn to them for advice and support.
And there is one other unsung hero of EHN who has been an absolute lifeline in so many different ways: Andrew Lavender of Kent and Housing Training and Consultancy Ltd. I could scarcely begin to list the ways in which he has helped not just me but EHN as a whole. But to take a some simple examples, he has invariably volunteered to run the ‘second room’ at all recent conferences, as well as offering his unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience via forum posts and Practitioner Surgeries. However, that barely scratches the surface of the support he has given behind the scenes, as the outgoing Treasurer, but even more as a friend always willing to listen..
Finally, I’d like to wish Adam Cliff the very best as the incoming provider. I hope you will support him as much as you have supported me. As a past winner of our Practitioner of the Year Award, Adam is very well equipped to offer the kinds of input that the Network needs. I am sure it will turn out to be an exciting new era, with Adam's fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
So farewell. Thanks for your support and best wishes for your continuing endeavours.