Saying goodbye to our CEO

We have reached the end of era at Walsingham Support. Paul Snell, CEO for 17 years, has retired after a 30-year career with the organisation.

Mark Snell, Paul’s father, founded Walsingham Support in 1986, and Paul’s career began in Learning & Development and HR, where he spent 12 years. This was followed by a year as Director of Operations and Development, leading to his appointment as CEO in 2005.

Over the past 17 years as CEO of Walsingham Support, Paul has:

• increased the number of individuals we support from 247 to 426

• broadened the areas in which we work from 53 to 104

• seen the workforce grow from 471 to 963

• increased annual income from £14m to £28m

During Paul’s time as CEO, he has supported several mergers of smaller organisations into Walsingham Support. Paul also recognised how important it is to have people with lived experience of learning disabilities on the Board of Trustees, and Paul has supported them to ensure that their opinions and feedback at each meeting really do make a difference.

Paul has worked with thousands of people across his career. Here is just a small selection of colleagues who wanted to share their thoughts and feelings on working with him:

"Throughout the years I have worked with Paul, I have personally seen him encourage all Trustees, Directors and office staff to visit services as it makes a big difference to remind ourselves why we are doing what we do and also be able to connect in with both individuals we support and staff in the front line. Paul has continued to visit services during his 30 years within Walsingham Support and he is well known by all the individuals we support and staff who are all open and honest with him during the visits. When visiting with Paul it brings a smile to my face when I see how great he interacts with everyone and makes them feel at ease, I too in turn have learnt a great deal from these visits with Paul" – Ravanti

"Paul, you have been such a great role model to us all over the years, Mr Walsingham! Whenever you visit us in the North, you always go out of your way to make everyone feel special, and it's not always easy conversations you have but you always come up with a super response which that person really appreciates. Staff always welcome your visits as you listen and act on their feedback. I, for one, am in awe of your knowledge and experience, and I do look up to you as an exceptional role model to us all. You often say to me that you always feel re-energized after spending time with us all and I can honestly say you have that effect on me as well" – Justine

"The years passed very quickly when I was working as Chair of Trustees with Paul at Walsingham Support, and the reason was you could not help but be infected with his enthusiasm for the organisation. We had some amazing visits across the country and loved meeting different people and hearing their stories and I remember Paul listening intently as people spoke with us. Also on the visits we had some tremendous laughs traversing the country in cars and trains – I still smile remembering some of those days. Paul will be a friend for life!" - Heather

"I have worked with Paul for around 20 years as Walsingham's IIP Practitioner. It has been a pleasure and an amazing journey. Paul is passionate about the people Walsingham supports and truly puts them at the heart of everything - Paul has never deviated from this purpose. Paul has continued to remain close to operations and has worked tirelessly to stay in touch with people's needs while listening to employees' concerns, ideas and opinions. It has been a privilege Paul, to work with you alongside this great organisation. I look forward to having a beer sometime to discuss your new adventures" - Julie-Ann

This article cannot begin to do justice in describing the tremendous difference Paul has made both to the lives of the individuals we support and the colleagues who have worked alongside him throughout his career. Paul may be retiring, but he will continue to work tirelessly to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Farewell, Paul. Thank you for everything.