Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Behind Every Good Chief Executive ... PA Is to Leave the Council after 35 Years

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Behind Every Good Chief Executive ... PA Is to Leave the Council after 35 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Hunt

FOR 35 years she has held a privileged position at the heart of our region's biggest council.

PA Audrey Bell has served under six chief executives at Newcastle City Council, acting as confidant, matchmaker, diary keeper and even pipe-cleaner to some of the region's most powerful men.

Now as the council prepares to appoint another boss, she is leaving, taking secrets from the last three-and-a-half decades of civic life with her.

She said: "They have all been lovely in their different ways. I've got at-tacheto them and worried about them like they are my children. They are my chief execs. I am sad to leave. It's going to be strange not being amongst it all. I wouldn't have wanted to work anywhere else."

Audrey, 58, joined the city council in 1974 under chief executive Ken Galley, working as PA to the principle assistant to the chief executive, John Keen.

Far from the hectic pace of today's council life she often found she did not have enough work to do, even bringing her knitting to her desk to keep herself occupied.

But she was not without her tasks. She said: "When I first started they would sit in their office and committee rooms with their pipes, smoking. Ken would sit and grind his teeth on his pipe.

"One day I was asked to take his pipe to the pipe hospital. I thought they were having me on, but no, there was a pipe hospital on Percy Street where they would fix pipes. As soon as I went in they knew it was Ken Galley's pipe.

"It was totally different in those days, you can't imagine them smoking in their offices now."

Audrey took a maternity break in 1979 but returned in 1982 for what was meant to be a temporary stint as PA to chief executive Cyril Davies. …

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