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Gillian pays tribute to colleagues as she looks back on 20 years’ service with OIC

Gillian pays tribute to colleagues as she looks back on 20 years’ service with OIC
08 July 2021

Gillian with colleagues Councillor Rachael King, Councillor Leslie Manson and Interim Chief Executive John MundellLong-serving Council employee – Gillian Morrison - has paid tribute to her colleagues and Elected Members whilst also stating that “the 20 years working for OIC have undoubtedly been the best” in her 37-year career in public service.

From 1984, Gillian worked in social care and social work in Fife, Warwickshire and Perth and Kinross Councils, leaving her role as Head of Social Work in Perth and Kinross in 2001 to take up a joint post between Orkney Islands Council and NHS Orkney to lead early integration of health and social care services.

Her favourite memories of this time were working with health and care colleagues to bring staff together into joint community services to support more people at home, and leading the planning for Smiddybrae Care Home and Kalisgarth Care Centre.

In 2006, Gillian was invited by Alistair Buchan, then Chief Executive at OIC, to take up a seconded post to lead the preparation for the first Council ‘Best Value’ audit.  Best Value is about ensuring that there is good governance and effective management of resources, with a focus on improvement, to deliver the best possible outcomes for people in Orkney.

In 2008 Gillian took up a corporate post which included the development of further cross-Council improvements in best value.  In 2010, keen to ensure that social work had a strong voice in the planning for the first Orkney Health and Care integrated service, Gillian undertook the role of Chief Social Work Officer on top of her corporate role, quickly being seconded back into Orkney Health and Care due to senior management vacancies.

Through the 2011 Council restructuring, Gillian was appointed as Executive Director of Corporate Services.  Her mantra was “customers first”, with central support services being there to support front line services to do the best they can with the resources they have for all our customers.

Gillian, who recently retired, has hugely appreciated the support of her excellent senior team – Head of Legal Services, Head of HR and Performance, Head of IT and Facilities, Chief Internal Auditor and Strategy Manager  - and the wider Corporate Services staff teams – who have all risen to the many challenges over the years, particularly the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone played a part in swiftly setting up new ways of working to ensure that our vital Council services could continue”, explained Gillian. “The resilience team worked all hours to support the Senior Management Team in seamlessly implementing our contingency plans, as did the IT service to arrange home working and set up Microsoft Teams.

“Many staff volunteered to do other duties at the drop of a hat – for example, overnight, the audit team took on the administration of grants to support local businesses, and our cooks and cleaners took on additional duties to support key workers in our offices and through their work in our schools.  I will never forget how every single person pulled together to do their bit, and I wish I could mention each and every member of Corporate Services staff to thank them.”

During the summer of 2020, efforts were made to recruit a temporary Chief Officer for Orkney Health and Care, but this proved fruitless.  Following a request from the Interim Chief Executive, John Mundell, Gillian agreed to step in to lead Orkney Health and Care from August 2020 until late May 2021 when Stephen Brown took up the permanent post of Chief Officer.   

“I want to pay tribute to the Orkney Health and Care Senior Management team and all the Orkney Health and Care staff, both Orkney Islands Council and NHS Orkney colleagues, for being absolutely amazing during the whole pandemic. My unexpected time as Interim Chief Officer during the pandemic was certainly the most challenging of my career but also the most rewarding. I also want to thank the Elected Members who were very supportive during this time.”

Having worked in several different Councils, Gillian appreciates the levels of service that can be provided in Orkney, partly using the interest from the Strategic Reserve Fund to ensure services are maintained that make Orkney unique as a place to live.

Gillian has also thoroughly enjoyed working with colleagues from other organisations across Orkney, and beyond, with the aim of pooling ideas and resources to make Orkney a better place.

Looking back over her 37-year career, the 20 years working for Orkney Islands Council have undoubtedly been her best, she says.

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS