THE party spirit was in full flow for Contact Morpeth Mental Health, but there was no let-up in the hard work as two new developments were announced.
The charity will be moving from its premises in Bridge Street to a new centre in Grey’s Yard next month.
And there will be a new head at the helm as Chief Executive Cynthia Livesey retires and Audrey Anderson is appointed Centre Manager.
Mrs Livesey previously tried to retire in July last year, but she returned to help out in a staffing crisis. She now hopes to enjoy a more permanent break.
“I have really enjoyed my time back, but I’ve realised that my energy level just isn’t what it used to be. I still have the enthusiasm, but not the energy. I’ll still be around to support Audrey and the centre and the organisation, but from the back seat,” she said.
“When I got involved with Contact it was about ten sessions a week and a coffee morning so to see it come from that to this, well I just can’t put it into words.
“To see so many people at the party shows how many people are proud to be part of it.”
She added: “It has been a mixed year, but everything is put into the shade by the fact that we have reached 25 years as a local charity and won the Queen’s Award.”
Mrs Anderson, who lives in Stobhill, joined Contact as a volunteer about four years ago and is eager to get started in her new role.
“I am looking forward to it. It is a challenge, but a good one. I’m looking forward to the next few years in terms of helping to improve the service and extend it and seeing if we can increase our membership,” she said.
“It has been going for 25 years so there is a lot to live up to and I just hope I can continue all the hard work that Gena and Cynthia have put in.”
The new manager’s first major task is to oversee the change in premises, which she knows will bring its own difficulties.
“It is a big challenge for our members because any change, even a good one, is difficult for them,” she said.
“The new opportunities we have with Grey’s Yard are great, with ground-floor facilities, our own parking and somewhere that is still centrally based, but we will need to reassure the members that we are still here and still providing the service.”
However, with the support of volunteers and staff she is confident that the changes will pass without a hitch.
“I’m very proud to be part of Contact, even a small part considering how long most people have been involved.
“It just amazes me how dedicated people are in terms of our volunteers, our staff and the local organisations which give us so much support. People just never fail us,” she said.