south Ayrshire Councillors last week paid tribute to retiring Roddy McDonald, as the Head of Community Development announced his early retirement.
Mr McDonald will step down at the end of next month after 30 years working in the public sector.
He had been working on the South Carrick Community Leisure Group project which would see a new pool and leisure facility built in the town.
Roddy said: “I am humbled and grateful for the comments from the Councillors and thank them all for their support over the years. While it has been a real challenge at times, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to shape and influence the direction of some of the Council’s most-loved services – education, golf, leisure, arts and culture – and I am pleased to be leaving these areas in strong positions.
“It will be exciting to see the work underway across these areas come to fruition in the months and years ahead and I will follow the continued improvement journey of South Ayrshire Council with interest. In the meantime, I will be reflecting on how best I can further develop my life-long passion for helping others in my community.”
Roddy’s career has focused on helping communities and people. He started out as a careers officer with Strathclyde Careers Service, based in the east end of Glasgow and finishing as Principal Careers Officer in the service’s Lanark Division ten years later.
He was then the first – and the youngest – careers officer appointed to Strathclyde Regional Council’s Education Directorate in 1992, moving to the Ayr division three years later with responsibility for the education budget and schools buildings across Ayrshire.
At local government reorganisation in 1996, he was appointed to a management post in South Ayrshire Council with responsibility for the education capital programme and health and safety.
In 2002, he was appointed to a chief officer role as Head of the Education PPP Project before becoming Head of Community Development in January 2009.
And, with responsibility for services including sport and leisure, arts and culture, libraries, museums and galleries and community engagement, Roddy has led a number of key developments on behalf of the Council including the ongoing work to reopen the Gaiety Theatre and driving the project to regenerate Girvan and South Carrick.
Councill Leader Bill McIntosh, paid his tribute: “His input will help create lasting legacies for our communities and I wish him all the very best for the future.”
SNP Group leader Councillor Nan McFarlane echoed: “Roddy has been one of the Council’s solid pillars and has always supported the vision elected members have for a continual improvement of all we do in South Ayrshire.”
Councillor John McDowall, Leader of the Labour Group, said: “He has been an outstanding senior local government officer for many years, and lately as Head of Community Development has been at the forefront of the drive to regenerate our communities, particularly in Girvan and Maybole where he has won the trust and respect of both elected members and community leaders.”
The independent Councillors added: “Apart from the professional loss, he is simply a great guy and we will be a weaker team without him.”
Provost Winifred Sloan, who chaired the Council meeting, said: “Roddy leaves this Council in a much better place and he has played an important part in helping us achieve that.”
Arrangements to cover the post of Head of Community Development are currently being made.
Finally, Alec Clark, Girvan Community Council chair praised Mr McDonald for his work and dedication to the Girvan regeneration project.
He said: “I was sad to hear of the retiral of Roddy McDonald whom I have had worked with for the past two and half years.
“Roddy has been one of the main drivers in securing regeneration for Girvan and South Carrick and has been extremely important to enable things to be done in the town. He will be a great loss to the community of South Carrick and was extremely good at his job.”