Morecambe Bay Partnership boss to step down for new adventures

Susannah Bleakley will be stepping down from her role as chief executive of Morecambe Bay Partnership on August 13 after 25 years of dedicated service at the helm.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 3:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 3:34 pm
Susannah pictured in Heysham, with Rob Mulholland's artwork Settlement. Photo credit: Robin Zahler

A highly respected, popular and well-known figure in the bay, Susannah has successfully navigated the charity into a broad multi-sector organisation with a portfolio of projects celebrating and conserving the heritage of the bay.

She has been instrumental in achieving significant growth in delivery and influence during her time at the small charity which began life as a ‘touchstone’ organisation bringing together disparate stakeholders to find solutions to common issues across the bay area.

Over the years, the partnership has consistently punched above its weight with significant achievements including the launch of the Bay Cycle Way in 2015, and making the bay accessible for everyone to explore, empowering local communities and getting them actively engaged in the enhancement and sustainability of the bay’s distinctive landscape and unique heritage for all to enjoy.

Susannah at the Cumbria Tourism awards ceremony, pictured (second right) with Nick Brelsford, Sue Edlington and Tony Johns, collecting an award as winners of the Tourism Experience of the Year 2017 for the Bay Cycle Way. Photo credit: Jenny Woolgar

Morecambe Bay Partnership has involved thousands of local people in conserving local history and nature, creating new habitats, removing tons of beach litter, trained teachers, collected 100's hours of oral histories, improved access for disabled people and commissioned great art projects by internationally renowned artists to celebrate the landscapes of the bay.

Described as ‘a force of nature’, Susannah is renowned for her warm and welcoming approach and inspiring those around her with her energy and ideas.

She said: “Among my many happy memories is the launch of the Bay Cycle Way in 2015 when a long-standing dream turned into reality, and the opening of the SHIP sculpture and Horizon Line Chamber in Heysham and Sunderland Point when these reflective works took their place in the bay’s landscape.

"Perhaps what I hold most fondly are all the friendships and extraordinary support of so many volunteers and supporters, getting involved in beach cleans, conservation work, archaeological recording and oral histories and want to thank all our volunteers, partners and funders.

"Personally, I’m looking forward to new adventures and travel when conditions allow.”

She added: “I have been immensely lucky to have worked with so many local people to celebrate and share the authentic stories of the bay. It’s exciting to bring together the cultural and natural heritage and show the whole place so more people can experience, understand and care for the Bbay.

"I am most proud of bringing people together and all the work that the team have achieved.”

Gill Haigh, managing director for Cumbria Tourism, said: “I’ve had the pleasure to work with Susannah for many years, as a partner and trustee. Susannah’s dedication to and passion for Morecambe Bay and it’s communities has been simply outstanding.

"Morecambe Bay has a bright bright future as a destination, a place to live and work and as a special environment for us all to treasure. That is in no small part Susannah’s legacy.”

Chair of trustees Tom Burditt said: “Susannah is a hugely passionate, dynamic and well-respected champion for everything and everyone in or related to the Bay and we’re going to miss her immensely.

“We’ll be announcing the arrival of our new CEO in early August but in the meantime, we’d like to ask supporters to join us on a nostalgic trip down memory lane by sharing memories of Susannah, the partnership and the bay from the last 25 years on our social channels.”

You can read more about Susannah and the work of the Partnership on their website or share your memories on Facebook @MorecambeBayPartnership, on Twitter @M_Bay or on Instagram @mb_partnership