On behalf of the Council His Worship the Mayor has recognised the long service – 20 years – of two employees, Assistant Housing Manager – Maintenance Ray Kelly and Bereavement Services Officer Sarah Statham.
Ray Kelly joined the Council on 2nd May 2000 as a Property Maintenance Assistant in the Borough Engineer’s Department, at the Town Hall.
He then rapidly progressed after two years on to Civil Engineering Assistant, which role he carried out for more than 10 years, before becoming Housing Maintenance Officer (based at Ballacottier), and then, in 2015, the Assistant Housing Manager (Maintenance).
During this time, he studied and successfully gained his HNC in Construction Studies and a BSC in Construction Management.
His current role and his many years involved in the Housing Maintenance Service, require him to manage and co-ordinate the Maintenance Service Team, to ensure the Council provides an excellent maintenance service to tenants across the whole of the Council’s Housing stock and sheltered housing complexes.
Douglas is the largest Housing Authority on the Island with a housing stock of more than 2,300 properties – houses, bungalows, apartments, and flats, as well as sheltered housing. This means a huge portfolio for the Housing Maintenance Team, which Ray Kelly leads, and the work he and his team do ensures the Council maintains its existing stock in good order.
His recent achievements include key roles in delivering the central heating system and processes and improving the voids process and reducing the number of void properties.
The importance of his and his colleagues’ roles came to the fore in the past year during the COVID pandemic, when he was instrumental in managing his team and supporting them during a difficult time, enabling them to continue with emergency and essential repairs, particularly for vulnerable tenants.
Sarah Statham joined the Council as a trainee Cremation Technician on 24th July 2000.
She qualified as a Cremation Technician in 2002, becoming Bereavement Services Officer in March 2003.
Her post requires that she ensures the constant smooth and efficient operation of the Cemeteries and Crematorium Service, at both the main cemetery at Glencrutchery Road and at the Lawn Cemetery, which includes managing and organising funerals, grave digging, exhumations, ground care, operation and maintenance of cremators, and building maintenance, as well as churchyard and memorials at St George’s Church, which come under the care of the Council.
She is required to have a comprehensive knowledge of all the statutes, laws, rules, and regulations relating to cemeteries, burials and cremations, to ensure they are all complied with and has been invaluable many times in supporting and advising the Chief Executive, as Registrar on complex issues.
But most importantly Sarah strongly leads her team to provide an unsurpassed compassionate and caring service to the bereaved across not just Douglas but the whole Island.
Her and her colleagues’ roles were severely tested during the Covid 19 pandemic. They worked tirelessly to keep the service going through unprecedented and extremely difficult times.
She had to train extra people in the use of the cremators and the small team was divided into three, so they could remain segregated from each other in order to maintain a service if anyone contracted the virus. This was very stressful for a small team, who usually work so closely together and in close proximity to support each other.
Sarah Statham and her team have been complimented many times on the compassion with which they deal with bereaved families, issues with headstones, her in-depth knowledge and interest in the cemeteries and their records.
Her other achievements include:
• Over her 20 years, it is estimated she has been involved in administering more than 13,000 cremations and 1,000 burials.
• She was a major force in the refurbishment of the Crematorium building and facilities in 2014.
• She has formed a professional long-serving team, with the Assistant Bereavement Manager and gardener charge-hand both also have been with her for some 20 years the Cremation Technician 18 years.
• (It’s also likely she could feature in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of times she’s heard: ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and ‘How Great Thou Art’)
His Worship praised Mr Kelly and Ms Statham for their loyalty, commitment and leadership skills that contributed to the Council’s year-round consistently high quality of service delivery.