A new chairwoman appointed to steer the Shetland Amenity Trust through perhaps its most challenging period to date has accepted the role with “fear and trepidation”.
Ruth Mackenzie made the comments after she was elected uncontested at the trust’s annual general meeting on Wednesday – where only five trustees were in attendance.
Ms Mackenzie’s appointment comes just weeks after the trust announced potential job losses in an effort to cut its financial deficit by £200,000 in this financial year. If cuts are not made the trust risks losing the support of funders.
At the same meeting the then acting chairman George Sutherland stood down from the role which he has held since replacing Brian Gregson, who resigned his position last month for health reasons.
Trustee and former councillor Frank Robertson then thanked Capt. Sutherland for taking charge at “a difficult time” and for “handling [the challenging period] as a shipmaster would”.
Capt. Sutherland, who could not be re-elected to the position of chairman at the end of his term, was instead elected as vice chairman, a move which Ms Mackenzie said would provide “continuity”.
Before vacating the chairman’s seat Capt. Sutherland gave his “heartfelt thanks” to the trustees, interim general manager Andy Steven and all the other people who had been involved in the trust.
He said that he felt the trust was “actually in a position where we can move forward fairly confidently” but later suggested that trustees should elect two vice chairmen for the coming year in order to share a demanding workload.
“In view of what I see as the workload going forward for the next financial year I think we should actually appoint two vice chairmen”, he said.
Alastair Hamilton, who had earlier been thanked by Capt. Sutherland for his “invaluable guidance”, was elected unopposed to the second vice chairman role.
Trustee Eddie Knight stood down at the meeting whilst two new trustees – Linda Riddell and Pauline Megson – were appointed to the board subject to an interview process.
However, the organisation still remains short of its full complement and continues to encourage people to put themselves forward for a position on the trust.
Speaking after Wednesday’s meeting Ms Mackenzie said: “I think, like a lot of people, I have a great love for Shetland and I think a lot of people don’t understand the work the amenity trust does to protect that.
“I’d like to use the opportunity to say if anyone with the skills that we need would like to join us we would be delighted invite them on board.”
She added: “Obviously we’re at a crossroads and a difficult time, Jimmy Moncrieff left a fantastic heritage in Shetland and it would be great to think that people would like to help protect that going forward.”
Ms Mackenzie also praised the trust’s “tremendous staff”, and expressed sympathy with them during a “difficult period”.