In the end it wasn’t a complete surprise. Cathy Macnaughton got wind of the leaving party which allowed her to dress up and bring a surprise present of her own. After five years in the voluntary sector she knew just what the staff would find useful.
The shiny new stapler is clearly going to become a prized possession in the offices of Multi-Cultural Family Base. It was a humorous and affectionate gesture but it speaks volumes about the work of voluntary organisations like MCFB.
As their retiring chief executive Cathy told the crowd of friends and colleagues filling South Leith Parish Halls, the voluntary sector was a completely new experience for her when she arrived at MCFB five years ago. “It was an eye opener to learn how the voluntary sector manages to achieve such miracles when they are always trying to get by with things that don’t work well,” she said, “Computers that take an hour to warm up and everyone sharing one stapler.”
Even so, MCFB does achieve miracles, not least in their rapidly expanding therapeutic services for children and families affected by violence. And among the audience were many of the young social workers trained by MCFB. Their aim stated on the website: to enhance the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Which is why Cathy also presented a bumper box of glitter and a big bag of play doh to symbolise the fun their art work brings to the lives of children. But she did receive a few surprises in return. In a warmhearted and truly multicultural event, there was Scottish music from Bronwyn on bagpipes, Sunita’s Bollywood dancing and delicious curry lunch made by Sikh Sanjog.
All this is an example of the diversity which attracted Cathy to apply for the post in Leith, “There is no better place to work.”
Steve Gowenlock, who now takes over from Cathy as chief executive, paid tribute to Cathy’s achievements in fundraising and expanding the reach of MCFB. “To quote the Joni Mitchell song, you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. We will miss her strong and supportive leadership…but as there are no Munros in London and no agency quite like MCFB in London I hope her memories of us will be special ones. And we will see her again.”
By the way, Cathy, who is going to London to be near her first granddaughter, was also presented with a parting gift – but she opened that in private.
Leith Open Space also wishes Cathy all the best. We have happy memories of working with her on the World Kitchen Multicultural Family Brunch the fundraising event we organised together in March this year when Cathy did heroic working in the kitchen of Out of the Blue Drill Hall Cafe.