Marion Notman – an obituary
Housing consultant Donald Lockhart shares his memories of Marion Notman, who died recently aged 66.
Marion Notman was part of that happy band who were part of the early days of the housing association movement in Scotland – the voluntary housing movement – which has been such a force for good in our cities, and indeed in rural areas, too. In Marion’s case, it was with Fountainbridge Housing Association in Edinburgh, and she knew the special camaraderie, fun and sense of purpose that were, and remain, hallmarks of working for a housing association. Marion was proud to be part of it; she believed in the values of the voluntary housing movement, in particular, she valued the strength of the relationship with tenants and the credibility these organisations enjoy in the local community, and she saw good quality housing as a means of fostering the type of social justice she believed in.
Marion went on to distinguish herself in other housing jobs – first with Scottish Special Housing Association in Tain and, subsequently, as Housing Manager with Albyn Housing Society in Invergordon, where I joined her as a senior colleague in 1989. She also later had an important role on the Board of Cairn Housing Association, where she was able to put all her knowledge and experience into enabling the Board to fulfil its duty of providing strategic direction, leadership and good governance.
I recall the early days at Albyn, Marion insisted that her new Director, Susan Torrance, drive up through the challenging hairpin bends of the Berriedale Braes – L plates and all, it hadn’t come up in Susan’s interview that she hadn’t yet passed her driving test – and on to Wick and Thurso to demonstrate just how far, and under what circumstances, Albyn staff had to travel to manage the stock. Scary, but fun, it did the trick in terms of Susan’s appreciation of Marion’s dedication and hard work.
Her dedication and hard work resulted in happy outcomes for hundreds of families, all over the Highlands, who had Albyn and Marion to thank for providing them good quality affordable housing and, in many cases, allowing them to rebuild their lives after coming from poor housing conditions or abusive relationships.
But the greatest thing about Marion’s housing career was that she had the courage to give it up – a courage she further displayed in facing her final months – to pursue her dream of earning a living as an artist. And those of us who are lucky enough to have some of Marion’s work on display have reason to be grateful that she did, so that, through her work, we can continue to enjoy and remember Marion every day.
If you would like to share your memories of Marion, please contact me @donald_lockhart.
Image of Marion Notman © Richard Easson
Catch up with the rest of the Scottish Housing News International Women’s Day feature here.