Glowing tributes have been paid to Glengormley woman Pat Hutchinson, who retired last week after serving the local community as District Manager of Citizens Advice Newtownabbey for over three decades.
Dozens of colleagues, former colleagues, friends and clients gathered at the Dunanney Centre on Friday afternoon to wish Mrs Hutchinson well for her retirement.
Among those in attendance at the lunch were Citizens Advice officials, local church leaders and political and community representatives.
Melanie Humphrey, Chair of Citizens Advice Newtownabbey (formerly Newtownabbey CAB), praised Mrs Hutchinson for her client-focussed approach over the past 32 years.
“Good people are scarce and you are one of the good people. You have empowered and motivated and created a fantastic team and that’s evident with the silver Investors In People award and the 100 per cent audits, all the accolades,” she said.
“Thank you for being such a brilliant leader, a brilliant manager and being the head of the best Citizens Advice Bureau in Northern Ireland.”
On behalf of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, Mayor Thomas Hogg thanked Mrs Hutchinson for her hard work and dedication over the years, praising the impact she and her team have made in Rathcoole and the wider Newtownabbey area. And on a personal note, as a Macedon councillor, he added: “I want to say how much I appreciate all of your support and guidance. I want to wish you a long and happy retirement. Thank you for all of your service and leadership over many difficult and trying years. With your leadership, you have ensured that the CAB in Newtownabbey is the success that it is.”
Also praising Mrs Hutchinson and her team at Newtownabbey CAB for their work over the years, Deputy Mayor John Blair said: “You can count not in thousands or in tens of thousands, but in hundreds of thousands at least the number of people that have been helped here over the years. You can count in not merely millions, but at least tens of millions the amount of money that’s recouped year on year for the local economy by this bureau, and that’s been done under Pat’s leadership. Thank you sincerely for all that you have done for so many people in this area and beyond.”
Billy Snoddy, Chairman of the Citizens Advice regional office, has been associated with Newtownabbey CAB for many years, and has worked alongside Mrs Hutchinson since 1986.
“During all that time, the dedication, the sincerity, the work rate, the effort that’s put in, it’s not only Pat, she reflects that to her staff and that’s why this bureau is so good,” he said. “That’s why it gets 100 per cent in the audit, because every single one of them works the way Pat works - dedicated.”
Others who paid tribute to Mrs Hutchinson during the event included Citizens Advice session supervisor Bea Ogilvie, long-term client Desmond King, Manager of Citizens Advice Antrim Lorraine Adamson and Assembly election candidate and former CAB adviser Paula Bradley.
Speaking afterwards, Nigel Dodds MP commented: “Pat Hutchinson has been a colossus in community life for over three decades, dedicating herself to helping others. I have been privileged to work with her for many years and to see first hand the extraordinary impact she has had upon the local community. She leaves behind a lasting legacy and a record she can be truly proud of; I wish her many happy years of well deserved retirement.”
His DUP colleague, Sammy Wilson MP added: “She has made a real difference to thousands of people’s lives and I suppose that is the important thing. It’s great what she’s done for the organisation, but what she has done for so many individuals around here is testimony to the hard work she has ben involved in.”
• Read related story - Pat calls it a day after 32 years leading Newtownabbey CAB