Shake-up at the top of construction charities

The leadership of three of construction’s biggest charities is changing as two industry stalwarts announce their retirement.

Lighthouse chief executive Bill Hill will retire at the end of this week, after more than a decade at the helm of the wellbeing support charity.

CRASH boss Francesca Roberts, in charge since 2007, is set to retire at the end of May. The organisation helps charities with construction projects.

Meanwhile, Mates in Mind has a new leader after managing director Sarah Meek took up a job in another sector last month.

Lighthouse’s Hill will be replaced by current chief operating officer Sarah Bolton. After retirement, he will be awarded the title of honorary vice president and continue to fundraise for the organisation, including through growing its golf club.

He will also cycle 330km across Ireland in three days alongside other industry figures in May, to raise money for the charity, and is looking for more donations.

Hill told Construction News: “I haven’t had a day where I’ve woken up and thought the job was going to be a chore, it’s always been a joy even though we’ve had to wrestle with some very difficult subjects and deal with difficult cases.”

Bolton has been chief operating officer for five years and is credited with developing the charity’s services and growing its senior management team. She said she will look to build on the “significant achievements and growth during Bill’s tenure”.

She added: “Achieving our vision that no construction worker or their family feels alone in a crisis comes with challenges, but those challenges bring out the best in our fantastic team and inspire us to deliver the best possible support to our diverse construction community.”

CRASH chief executive Francesca Roberts took over 16 years ago and expanded the charity’s support to hospices, as well as the homelessness organisations it already helped.

In 2014 the charity was awarded a Big Society Award by then prime minister David Cameron. Roberts is also a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Constructors and has been a CN Awards judge for three years.

Trisha Pickersgill, the current director of business development, operations & performance at Rennie Grove Hospice Care – a charity that benefits from CRASH’s help – will take over from Roberts in May.

Roberts said she has loved her time at the organisation. She added: “CRASH is an extraordinary charity that everyone in the industry can be part of, and be proud of. It has taught me so much about people and buildings, and the immense positive impact the construction industry can have on the lives of people who need help.”

CRASH chairman John O’Grady added: “Francesca’s passion and determination to help people who are homeless and those in need of hospice care has brought together our industry and inspired our people to construct places that care for people. I wish Francesca a happy retirement and extend a warm welcome to Trisha Pickersgill.”

In 2021, CN went on site with CRASH to show how the charity supports contractors to help people in need.

Mates in Mind was set up in 2016 by the Health in Construction Leadership Group with the support of the British Safety Council, and now works to help mental health and wellbeing at workplaces in all sectors.

Managing director Sarah Meek left to join rehab business Renaiss Health last month and has been replaced by Sam Downie, former chief executive of defunct charity WPF Therapy.

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