All good things come to an end… A goodbye to our Chief Executive

14 April 2021
Previous CEO leah swaine

Chair of trustees, David Sharp, shares our goodbye to our long-standing Chief Executive Leah Swain.

All good things come to an end. A phrase which I’m sure is used too often and out of context, but when I say this in terms of the departure of Leah Swain as Chief Executive of Community First Yorkshire, I think I have it right.

Leah is moving on to, in her words, her dream job. She is to be the Chief Executive of The Sirius Minerals Foundation and I wish her well in the new role.

I’ve known Leah for almost 10 years, initially as a colleague in the voluntary sector when she worked for Rural Action Yorkshire when we began the journey to create better partnerships across the county, along with North Yorkshire Sport and Rural Arts.

I then had the fortune of working more closely with her as Chair of The North Yorkshire and York Forum when we merged with Rural Action Yorkshire to form Community First Yorkshire. She took on the Chief Executive role and I took on the Chair’s role.

In that time Leah has done some brave, innovative and exceptional things. Pulling two organisations together is a challenge in itself but to then have to tender and begin a new contract at the same time really would challenge the best of us, but Leah just seemed to take it in her stride. Then there are the projects, funding and advocacy work Community First Yorkshire has been doing over the past few years. I certainly won’t forget the achievement of bringing in over £1 million from the Army Covenant Fund for the Aged Veterans programme. This had over 15 partners all doing different things to meet the needs of our aged veterans, and from the stories I heard at the time, it was not only appreciated but greatly loved as well.

As a result of work led by Leah, better representation is now standard at North Yorkshire County Council, improvements to rural communities continue to be made, better networking and partnerships are in place across the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector and so on – I could go on and on!

Her legacy is a well-respected, sustainable, well-resourced organisation with amazing staff all working towards the aim of creating inclusive, pro-active and resilient communities across Yorkshire.

So, from me personally but also the Board, thank you Leah for everything you achieved at Community First Yorkshire and we wish you well in your new role – they are incredibly lucky to have you.