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High Life Highland Chief Executive Announces Retirement

6th March 2019

Photograph of High Life Highland Chief Executive Announces Retirement

High Life Highland's Chief Executive has announced that it is his intention to retire from the charity's top job in the summer.

Ian Murray has been at the helm of one of the Highlands' largest charities since its inception in October 2011 when High Life Highland was created by The Highland Council to deliver and develop the local authority’s culture, learning, sport, leisure and health and wellbeing services. HLH has grown to a £32M annual turnover, employing over 1,300 full and part time staff and supporting over 1,500 volunteers.

Mr Murray first moved to the Highlands 31 years ago to take up the position of Depute Director of Leisure Services with Ross and Cromarty District Council, following six years’ experience in London. When the Highland Council was formed in 1996 he moved to the highland wide remit of Head of Community Learning and Leisure before leading the transition of those services into High Life Highland seven years ago.

Mr Murray is currently the national Chair of Community Leisure UK (Scotland) the members’ association for charitable culture and leisure trusts and will also relinquish this position in the summer.

Speaking about his time with High Life Highland Mr Murray said, "Leading the transition to High Life Highland and the seven years since has been the most challenging, rewarding and enjoyable period in my career.

"Since HLH began, visitor numbers have grown almost three fold; annual income has doubled; reliance on Council funding reduced by half and HLH has been asked by the Council and several community groups to adopt forty additional services, from the formerly community run pools in Bettyhill and Poolewe to more recently the Council’s school music tutor service. I am particularly pleased that HLH has become a trusted partner and ‘go-to’ organisation in so many communities across the Highlands.

Mr Murray concluded, "I have been very fortunate to have been supported throughout by a very motivated, professional and innovative team across everything we do. It has been both a pleasure and privilege to have been part of High Life Highland. Being firmly rooted now in the Highlands, I look forward to seeing HLH continue to evolve and prosper - from the sidelines“

Donald McLachlan, Chair of the Charity Board said, “Ian has steered the management of HLH and supported Directors in their work to a very high standard. His inclusive style has encouraged innovation and trust internally as well as with the local and national partners which support the charity’s work. He has been outstanding in leading the organisation through its initial set up and since, through a substantial period of growth and development - all at a time of very challenging public sector finances.

“The Board of Directors and I are obviously very sorry to hear that Ian will be retiring from the organisation, but we are extremely grateful to him for allowing us enough time to ensure a smooth transition to his replacement at this very busy time for the charity.

The Charity Chair concluded by saying, “Ian has put a whole career into developing and protecting vital cultural and leisure services and I wish him a long and well-deserved retirement when it comes later in the year."

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