Long-serving employee bids farewell to Scottish Borders Housing Association

Irene Sparkes with Kenny Harrow

Scottish Borders Housing Association said goodbye to one of its longest-serving neighbourhood housing officers last week, with the retirement of Irene Sparkes.

Sixty-three- year-old Irene has worked with the Association in a variety of roles for thirteen years, and with Scottish Borders Council before that, but has spent the past six as neighbourhood housing officer for Burnfoot.

Her last gift to Burnfoot was to present a dads’ community gardening group with a cheque on behalf of SBHA, to enable the group to continue its work.

The gardening group, which is part of the Dads Rock initiative, has plans to develop an area of land at Burnfoot School, with the help of dads, male carers and the wider community.

Community learning and development worker, Kenny Harrow, said: “Mostly when we have run family learning programmes in the past it has been the female or significant female that has attended sessions. While it is a bit stereotypical, the dads and their children have really enjoyed getting stuck into this project, sawing things off, ripping things out and after Easter we will look to start building things such as chairs, tables and planters.

“While the project runs from the school it is very much a community project and we want the whole community to be able to use the space and not just during school times.

“This money, which is very kind, will help us to create a safe and intriguing place to run through and explore.”

SBHA has 520 homes in Burnfoot.

Irene said: “It’s been a privilege to have served the community in Burnfoot for the past six years. I will miss all the Tenants I’ve worked with, and it’s a pleasure to be able to help support a project that will make a lasting difference.”

Neighbourhood services manager, Nicola McIlwraith, said: “Irene is one of our longest-serving Housing Officers, and has been completely dedicated to the job of helping to make Burnfoot a great place for people to live in. We and SBHA, and all the Tenants she has supported, will miss her very much.”

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