Chief executive stepping down from North Shields charity

A leading light in a North Shields community hopes to have left a legacy of positives as he heads off to pastures new.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 09:01 am
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 09:03 am
Phil McGrath, who is leaving as chief executive of Meadowell-based Cedarwood Trust. Picture by John Millard.

Phil McGrath spent seven years as chief executive of Meadowell’s Cedarwood Trust.

But he has now taken up a new appointment as community leader of The L’Arche Community in Preston.

In those seven years, Phil has overseen the charity’s move from premises above a shop to a community centre within the heart of the estate, helping expand its services to include a nursery, community drop-in spaces and hosting community theatre by The Blowin’ A Hooley Theatre Group.

From rocky beginnings, he was determined to make Cedarwood more financially sustainable, raising the profile of the charity nationally.

Phil’s vision and passion for the area have also led to new play areas for children and a unique service whereby some of the estate’s older residents help others by cooking meals and spending time with those people who find it difficult to leave their homes.

Phil said: “Our focus has always been on the development of individuals of all ages and our fight to reduce the inequalities faced by residents which leads to negative life chances.

“We want the best for everyone on this estate and that message was given loud and clear.”

Phil will be replaced in the new year by Wayne Dobson, who joins the trust having previously worked with charity Humankind in Teesside.

Phil’s new role heading up a charity for people with learning disabilities will be based in Preston, Lancashire – a short drive from his home in Lancaster.

“I’ve commuted to Tyneside for the last seven years and part of my reasoning for moving on is down to the excessive travelling and time spent away from home,” he said.

“I will miss the trust, the people and the area and I’m happy to be leaving it in the capable hands of the trustees and Wayne who is replacing me.”

Trustee Karen Schofield said: “In Phil we had an exceptionally hardworking and caring individual – inclusive and unjudgmental, respectful and caring. He dealt with people in crises with authority and compassion.

“We are very grateful for all that he has done on behalf of the residents, and trustees and wish him every happiness with the L’Arche Community. Our loss is their gain.”