It’s The Final Swansong From Amazing Grace

by Andrea Willoughby

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Grace McCutcheon has retired from Bield Housing and Care following 34 years of dedicated serviceScotland’s leading provider of housing and care has bid farewell to its longest serving employee to date.

Grace McCutcheon worked for Bield as a Scheme Manager for 34 years, dedicating her working life to supporting and enriching the lives of vulnerable older tenants living in two of the charity’s Lanarkshire sheltered housing developments.

Beginning work for the charity in 1979, Grace took a position at her first development- Glenafeoch Gardens in Carluke – at the same time as Britain was appointing its first female Prime Minister.

Having experienced the majority of Bield’s 40-year history in Scotland, Grace is ideally placed to reflect on a career devoted to caring for others and seeing out radical changes in the housing and care industry.

She said: “I remember applying for my job in 1979, following a number of years doing night-shifts as a psycho-geriatric nurse. I always felt at home when I was caring for people and offering my support.

“Initially, when I came on board as Manager, I was a lone worker and on duty 24-7. Very quickly, I came to think of the tenants as my friends. We spent a great deal of time together, so friendships naturally formed – friendships that have lasted for all these years.

“Years ago, there were fewer fire regulations so I remember regularly hosting events in the housing corridors. Bingo played between two flights of stairs was a firm favourite. Numbers were shouted up over each floor so everyone could get involved.”

Friendships Formed

While progression in the industry saw regulations and policies put in place to ensure care homes and sheltered housing were run efficiently and effectively, Grace feels that one constant has been the camaraderie between tenants and staff.

She said: “I’ve heard the stereotype of housing for older people being lonely places, but in my experience, this has never been the case. Within sheltered housing, we were all friends. The tenants and staff formed genuine friendships that saw each of us through difficult times.

“The special bond between carers, staff and tenants can be invaluable for all parties.

“When I reflect on my career, I see a series of wonderful times and moments spent with people I feel blessed to have met, and people from all walks of life who remain my close friends following my retirement.”

Christine Williamson, the Housing Officer for Greenlawn Court, Wishaw, where Grace spent her final six years of employment, said: “Grace and I have been colleagues since I began working with Bield 25 years ago and I have always been impressed by her caring and compassionate approach in her work.

“She has certainly made a difference to our tenants during her many years with Bield and she will be greatly missed by us all”.

Brian Logan, Bield’s Chief Executive added: “I would like to wish Grace a very happy retirement and express my thanks to her for many years of dedicated service.

“Bield would not be the special and unique organisation that it is without people like Grace. Our ultimate objective is to provide older people with care that both enhances and enriches their lives – Grace achieved this excellently and for this, we owe her our sincere gratitude.”

A Helping Hand

As part of her retirement, Grace now plans to enjoy several afternoons as a lady of leisure, whilst also making more time for her family, as the youngest of several children. But although officially retired, Grace maintains focused on helping others around her. She said: “To me, there is no greater happiness in life than to give to others and know that you’ve made a difference.”

Bield is Scotland’s leading provider of housing, care and community services for older people.

The registered charity which has grown from humble beginnings, starting out with one housing development in Bo’ness in 1971, to becoming a major provider of a wide range of housing and services for around 20,000 older people across 22 local authority areas.

Private: Andrea Willoughby

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