In Memory of Louise Murray

Louise and Alison - VCSE Conference 2017 Louise and Gill at Pride

This page has been created to acknowledge the passing of our colleague Louise Murray and to celebrate her 15-year career here at Salford CVS and the difference she made in Salford.

Louise passed away on Sunday 15th December in St Ann’s Hospice.

She had been living with cancer for two years.

On Tuesday 21st January, on what would have been Louise’s 55th birthday, her partner Jane, family, friends and colleagues gathered to remember her.

These are some of the tributes made on the night (below).

You can add your own too if you would like to – in the comments section, see below.

Should you wish to make a donation to support the work of St Ann’s Hospice in memory of Louise, you can donate via Just Giving here.

Regards

Alison Page

Chief Executive, Salford CVS


Louise Murray – a life that made a difference…

Hi, I’m Alison Page, the Chief Executive of Salford CVS, and I’ve agreed to say a few words today about Louise and her time working at Salford CVS.

Louise started working at Salford CVS in December 2004 as the interestingly named Youth Nexus Development Worker, rising to Deputy Chief Executive in 2009, a position she held alongside Kirsten for the next ten years, until she had to medically retire in July 2019 due to her illness.

Louise made a massive difference during her time at CVS – to her CVS colleagues, to the partners she worked with from the voluntary and public sectors, and to the lives of Salford residents.

I’d like to start this tribute with a few words I’m going to read out on behalf of my colleague Kirsten Blackwood:

“Louise and I joined forces in 2009 when we both became deputies – becoming a tag team and friendship that lasted for the next 10 years and was sadly cut short.

I couldn’t have done it without Louise.  Louise brought a calming presence during times of stress and upheaval, one thing she taught me was just because everyone is behaving like a clown it doesn’t mean you have to join the circus!  Louise was brilliant at stepping back and seeing things for what they were!  It didn’t always go down well but it was always respected.

I miss the late night working on bids and eating pizza

I miss our beans on toast at Mario’s

I miss our walks around Eccles rec

Most of all I miss the hugs she gave when everything was just too much.

I will always remember Louise with the feeling that she had so much more to give…”

Becky and Louise at Pride Louise and Les at Heart of Salford 2014

 

As for my own memories of Louise… well, I didn’t work with her as long as Kirsten did, and didn’t know her as well either probably…

When I first came to the interview for the job at CVS I walked in and Louise looked at me and said, “I remember you!”

I did know Louise from some years earlier, when we both were involved in women’s rights groups – I worked in a radical bookshop in Manchester at the time and have clear memories of Louise and her red hair and little platt…! We were both much younger then…

So, I started work at Salford CVS in the spring of 2013.

On my first day, after half an hour’s induction with the chair and a little time with Kirsten, Louise came to me and said she was taking me to a significant partnership meeting that afternoon at a partner organisation’s premises - it was at the Broughton Trust (refer to Mike and Diane) – and that I was chairing it! That was Louise, straight to the point… Anyway, I did go with her to the meeting, but insisted she should chair it, which she agreed to do!

I realised that day that I would get along with Louise – she was straight to the point, up front and honest, yet also supportive. Sometimes we butted heads about our approaches to work – as Kirsten will testify - but never about wanting to work together to make a difference to our sector and to the people of Salford.

We didn’t always agree either on other non-work stuff – politics; Joy Division vs New Order; whether vegetarians eat fish; and sometimes over the smell of her fishy lunch!

Louise worked hard to maintain balance in her life – which is hard to do in our line of work – she managed her hours at work, ate well, took her holidays, exercised and looked after herself and those around her, including of course her mum, spending every other Friday with her mum and making sure she got the care she needed. So it was both a shock, and very cruel, when she got her diagnosis and it became clear how far advanced the cancer was. I didn’t think any of us at CVS really believed she wouldn’t win the fight and come back to work with us… and to be honest I still can’t quite take it in…

So, I’d like to finish by saying that Louise was passionate about what she did for a living, her heart was always in her youth work roots and wanting to improve the lives of children and young people, and she was always the consummate professional. She also had a great sense of humour, which I’m not sure everyone saw – you can see that from some of our CVS photos that we have brought today, from wearing rainbow pride wigs to a police chief’s cap.

Louise always looked out for other people, like when I was new to CVS.

“I first met Louise 7 years ago when I had just started my role with Child Action Northwest and was trying to find out more about the region as I had not worked in the area previously.  I found Louise just lovely, she was helpful, thoughtful and so knowledgeable.  I can remember how she made me feel at ease and so positive about how we could work together.  Her passion for making a difference and how she cared about people really shone through.  It was clear she loved what she did.  Although I only knew Louise through work she made a real impact on me and I will miss her.  Sending love to her friends and family.”

- Sue Cotton

Heart of Salford Louise Louise presenting Charlotte with her Award - HoS 2018

 

I’d now like to hand over to Phil East, Chief Executive of Salford Foundation, who would like to say a few words too…

Remembering Louise Murray

I met Louise in late 2009 – new in post and new to Salford; in a way that was so typical of Louise, she reached out to me. Louise encouraged me to be a VOCAL rep (VOCAL is an umbrella group for organisations delivering services to children, young people and families in VCSE sector). She didn’t convince me straight away, but had done so within a year, gradually wearing me down! Relatively quickly I became VOCAL Chair (in 2012, a position I held until 2018) – throughout which we worked together very closely.

We weren't exactly Batman and Robin, but we did become something of a double-act! We had complementary skills and approaches and together were very effective and bounced off each other creatively.

If you’re not ‘of our world’ some of this stuff probably seems a bit mundane and boring! But it really mattered and made a difference:

  • Seldom Heard Event (marginalised young people)
  • Sector’s footprint on YP mental health and emotional wellbeing (impact and value for money) – leading to investment
  • Relentless in making the case for the sector’s contribution with the public sector… at times seen as quite effective; at others as a pain in the neck! But we knew our stuff, we were passionate about what we believed in; so we continued to press our point

Much of what we did was about creating change to systems and processes… not the ‘sexiest’ work to be involved in! But it mattered to Louise because she knew it enables you to create change at scale and that people have to be at the very heart of those systems. Louise had a knack for always bringing us back to consider the experience of the child at the heart of even the most strategic boards or decisions and reminding us that’s what truly matters. 

When I think of Louise and her character and qualities, I think of:

  • Collaboration = commitment to the Sector, in all its breadth. Commitment to partnership and able to get people on board to make things happen
  • Credibility = knew her stuff; portfolio was broad, but she knew the detail
  • Core values = worn on her sleeve, underpinning everything. Committed to young people. Didn’t shy away from testy issues and was never afraid to be a principled lone voice, in a culture that tends towards consensus
  • Caring = always had an interest in you as a person, not just a professional colleague. ‘Walked’ with people through their life events. Shared the fun stuff too (e.g. travels and fell-running)

Louise will be deeply missed by all of us who have worked with her. But her legacy will live on through her professional achievements. I will remember Louise with huge respect and great affection – knowing that my life has been greatly enriched by journeying awhile with her.

- Phil East, Salford Foundation

In memory of Louise Murray

It seems that I have known Louise for a long time. I met her when I was an associate lecturer at MMU, and I partnered with her to deliver a particular module.

I knew when she moved to Salford CVS, and we collaborated when she was Deputy CEO.

We would meet together in non work settings as friends from time to time. The last time was in Battery Park for ‘smoothies’.

Louise was always proactive, and passionate about change and making a difference even when she had her medical condition. She asked me to sign a petition about more resources for earlier cancer diagnosis, and I did so. She liked hiking, and was environmentally conscious.

 I respected her values her and positivity, and will always remember her.

Circle Steele, CEO, Wai Yin Society

You can donate to St Ann's Hospice, in memory of Louise via JustGiving.

Salford CVS
Author: 
Alison Page

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