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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Chief Encounters: Heather Gray believes children can do anything with the right support

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​Heather Gray of Cosgrove Care on her top tourist destination, magnetic musicians and the thrill of sharing success with a team

1. How many hours do you normally work in a week?

I work on average 45 hours a week though that varies depending on what the priorities are in any one week. I am a morning person so like to be in early, that’s when I get most done as I listen to the radio, drink coffee, and plan the day ahead.

There has never been a more challenging time for charities than now, but the sector is strong and resourceful

2. Is it better to work for a big or a small charity?

I really enjoy working for small charities, there is always a really strong sense of team work- often you have a number of roles so it’s really varied and you learn a lot. You need to be resourceful and flexible which I think brings out the best in the team. There has never been a more challenging time for charities than now, but the sector is strong and resourceful and the sense of commitment will support the sector to rise to the challenge and find solutions.

3. Why do you work in the third sector?

I enjoy the challenge and the ability to be creative in designing and delivering services which respond to what people we support want and need. I also really enjoy partnership working. I have worked for health and local government and recognise the challenges each sector faces. Services work best when each sector plays to their strengths and recognises their respective and unique contributions.

4. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I think the highlight of my career was completing a Himalayan trek with 22 young looked after children. Their sense of achievement was incredible. It really brought the message home about what young people can achieve and why it’s so important to be aspirational and ensure young people get the right support to reach their potential.

5. Who is or was your role model?

My role model is Professor Angus Skinner. I was lucky enough to have him as Chair of the Board when I was with Who Cares? Scotland. He embodies all the qualities I really admire: resilience, determination, integrity, humour, intelligence, kindness, and strength. I learned a lot from his leadership and he inspired a generation of people working with looked after children.

6. If you could give one piece of advice what would it be?

It would be that a great job and fantastic career doesn’t give your life meaning. Life is about what you learn, who you are or can become, and who you love and are loved by.

7. How did you end up in your job?

I started off my career working with adults and children with learning disabilities and loved it. I’ve moved about working with adults and children in a range of settings over the years. I saw the job at Cosgrove, I recognised the opportunity to return to work that I enjoy and to work with a Scottish charity that does some amazing work and has real ambition and I was just lucky they picked me!

8. Is this a step on the ladder to success or your final destination?

My career has taken some interesting twists and turns. I am certain that this job will be one that will inspire me and we recognise as a team what we need to achieve so I reckon I will be here for some time!

9. What motivates you?

I am motivated by the buzz of working in a team. It’s a fantastic feeling working closely with others when you share the same goal and even better when the team has a success. We recently achieved a funding success- it was a real team effort and it brought us closer together. We celebrated in style!

10. What’s your favourite film and why?

Milos Forman’s ‘Amadeus’ because of the incredible music and direction. Mozart is an eighteenth century Bruce Springsteen. It’s lavish and a bit cheeky in places. Mozart is cast as a charismatic demigod.

11. Would your 18-year-old self be impressed with where you are now?

Yes I think so. I am probably in a different place from where I thought I would be but the fact that I really enjoy my work was important when I was 18 and important now.

12. Saltcoats or the Costa Del Sol?

This is hard. I won a competition when I was 10 promoting Saltcoats as a tourist destination which was hung up in the council offices for years. I’ve got to say Saltcoats or risk having that prize taken off me.

13. Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?

Brian Denis Cox- I am a great Shakespeare fan and his portrayal of King Lear is like no other. And he’s Scottish!

Heather Gray is soon to be chief executive at Cosgrove Care.



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