One of the first employees to join Healthwatch Wiltshire when it was set up in 2013 is retiring at the end of this month.

Senior Volunteer and Engagement Officer Mary Rennie was there when it all began for Healthwatch Wiltshire – sharing a small office with Manager Lucie Woodruff in Melksham.

Starting out as a Project Officer, Mary helped to set up Healthwatch Wiltshire’s volunteer and engagement work, where she travelled across Wiltshire visiting communities, groups and organisations to speak to local people about their views on health and care services.

She also took on the role as Company Secretary for parent company Evolving Communities supporting the board of directors and ensuring the company met its legal responsibilities.

Mary plans to spend her retirement with more time outdoors gardening, volunteering at a nature reserve and keeping up her interest in local prehistoric archaeology. She also plans to come back to Healthwatch Wiltshire as a volunteer.

She said: “Most of my working life was spent in the in-house legal department of a multi-national company, so moving into the third sector was quite a change of direction.  I was prompted to do so by the support I’d received from local voluntary organisations when I was helping to care for elderly relatives.

“When I saw the advert for Healthwatch Wiltshire, I decided to go for it!  I remember particularly our early efforts to use the network of Local Area Boards to promote Healthwatch Wiltshire in every part of the county, from Malmesbury to Mere.  I discovered parts of Wiltshire I’d never heard of before and was impressed by the strong community spirit evident in many towns and villages.

“I feel so privileged to have ended my working life with such a committed team, who truly have made a difference on the local health and social care scene.”

Lucie Woodruff, Healthwatch Wiltshire Manager, added: “Mary’s retirement will be a great loss to Evolving Communities and Healthwatch Wiltshire as well as personally for me.  We have worked together for 10 years, starting with the Wiltshire Involvement Network (WIN) before transferring to Healthwatch Wiltshire in 2013.

“Mary’s ability to make people feel at ease and talk freely about things has meant that local people have been given the opportunity to have their say.

“I will miss Mary enormously, her warmth and compassion, her positivity and support but I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of retirement.  Mary, we all wish you well with your exciting retirement plans and look forward to welcoming you into the volunteering fold.”

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