A council leader is stepping down after 14 years of working tirelessly for residents in the borough.

Pat Graham is leaving her role as CEO of Copeland Council after a ‘rich and varied’ career.

Steven Brown has been appointed interim CEO of Copeland Council until the new Cumberland Council takes over in April 2023.

Pat said: “It’s been the greatest honour of my career to lead Copeland Borough Council. This is where I am from and fighting to improve the lives of our residents has been a key motivation.

“There are so many things the council has achieved in my 14 years, but it’s the talented, committed team who work tirelessly to make people’s lives and our place better that I am most proud of.

In Cumbria: Pat Graham, then Copeland Council's director of services, addresses the Howbank residents meeting in Egremont in 2012Pat Graham, then Copeland Council's director of services, addresses the Howbank residents meeting in Egremont in 2012 (Image: Mike McKenzie)

“The team will carry Copeland through to Cumberland Council and will be an anchor for the new unitary authority, of that I have no doubt. I am also so proud of the partnerships and relationships we have developed to deliver beyond our small size and budget. 

“I have had a rich and varied career and I am disappointed that poor health is directing me to leave, but I look forward to spending more time with family. I leave the council in very capable hands with Steven Brown as interim CEO with the support of our superb leadership team.”

Directly Elected Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, said: “Pat has worked tirelessly for Copeland over the past 14 years. I knew she would be perfect in the role of Chief Executive Officer for this council. She is from Copeland, she understands the borough, its people and its needs.

In Cumbria: Copeland mayor Mike Starkie and Pat Graham with artist Philip McHugh from the Vulture Club the new council offices in Whitehaven were officially opened in 2016 Copeland mayor Mike Starkie and Pat Graham with artist Philip McHugh from the Vulture Club the new council offices in Whitehaven were officially opened in 2016 (Image: Mike McKenzie)

“Together, with our officers and partners, we have brought in so much. Just this year we have secured £70.2 million for two of our towns in Millom and Cleator Moor, life changing amounts. We’ve also created the conditions for the Industrial Solutions Hub to start and flourish. Our planning team have reached the RTPI finals with the Bus Station in Whitehaven and Pat was instrumental in ensuring millions in flood alleviation funds came our way.

“In my career in Financial Services I have met many successful and high achieving people. Pat’s intellectual capacity and entrepreneurial vision puts her right up there with the best of them.

“Appointing her remains one of the best decisions I have made since becoming Mayor. If circumstances had been different, I know she would have played a pivotal role in local government for the rest of her career.

“We will miss Pat’s incredible knowledge, intelligence and wit but she’s left behind a solid and dedicated team who will see the council through to Cumberland Council in April. I will miss a fantastic colleague and friend.”

The leader of the opposition, Cllr Michael McVeigh, said: “Pat has been fantastic to work with, always the consummate professional. Throughout her years at the council, she demonstrated in everything she did her total dedication to Copeland and its residents.

“She was forever finding new ways to improve our towns and outcomes for our communities. Cumberland Council will be the poorer for not having her input going forwards, I know from colleagues that she has been a guiding light in the local government reorganisation process. We all wish her, and her family, well in the future.”

Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland, said: “I have had the pleasure of working closely with Pat during her time at Copeland, and have always valued her tremendous knowledge, skill and experience.

In Cumbria: Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, Mayor Mike Starkie and Pat Graham, Copeland Council?s Chief Executive, welcome the successful initial bid to the Future High Streets Fund in 2019Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, Mayor Mike Starkie and Pat Graham, Copeland Council?s Chief Executive, welcome the successful initial bid to the Future High Streets Fund in 2019 (Image: Newsquest)

“Pat has always been absolutely committed to Copeland and supporting its residents and businesses to the very best of her ability.

“I know she is incredibly highly regarded among staff and councillors at Copeland Council – and its many partners - and she leaves Copeland in a far better place than she found it.”

David Peattie, NDA CEO, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Pat who has been a strong advocate for Copeland and its unique place in the UK nuclear industry. I am hugely grateful to Pat for her guidance, support and challenge over the years.

In Cumbria: Pat Graham, then Director for Economic Growth, and Rory O'Neill of Sellafield welcome people to the newly re-vamped Beacon Centre in Whitehaven in 2014Pat Graham, then Director for Economic Growth, and Rory O'Neill of Sellafield welcome people to the newly re-vamped Beacon Centre in Whitehaven in 2014 (Image: John Story)

“I would like to thank her on behalf of the whole nuclear family for the contribution she’s made to making Copeland a better place to be.”