Hambledon’s New Parish Clerk Starts Work

Catherine Russell, Hambledon Parish Council’s newly-appointed Clerk, started in her job this week.

Those who attended the annual Parish Assembly last week at the Village Hall had the chance to meet and chat with her before her formal start date on May 1st.

She will attend her first monthly council meeting on May 10th, which is something of a baptism of fire as it is the AGM. Catherine, who has not been a clerk before, will take the chair at the start, as chairman and vice chairman must stand down for a vote on whether they are to be re-elected.

It is also the meeting at which the council has to make its annual financial return to be approved by an external auditor, and review its policies on such matters as standing orders, financial regulations and code of conduct. The Agenda for this meeting can be found in the Parish Council section of this website.

To prepare her, she has had a hand-over meeting with Alison Scott-Bishop, the council’s interim Clerk, and chairman Stewart Payne. She was the outstanding and unanimous choice to replace the previous clerk, who resigned earlier this year.

Catherine had seen the job advertised when she paused to read a parish noticeboard when on a run through the village. Her two young daughters attend school locally and she is familiar with the village, even though she and her husband live in Abinger Common.

She had already formed an impression that Hambledon was a “can-do” village from visits to the community shop. In her CV she stated: “Villages and their amenities survive only because good people are willing to step up and deliver”.

Following her appointment, she said: “I am looking forward to being part of Hambledon’s vibrant community. You may see me on one of my runs in the surrounding countryside.”

Running, together with gardening, being in the countryside, visiting galleries and designing children’s clothes are among her interests, as well as spending time with her husband and daughters, aged five and eight.

Catherine went to school in London and then to the University of East Anglia where she obtained a BA Hons in Art History. Student jobs included working at Tate Britain and Dulwich Picture Gallery. She then embarked on career in marketing and, at the same time, furthering her learning experience and qualifications, currently studying for an accounting certificate.

In 2014, while on maternity leave, she decided on a career change, moving into the fashion world and training in apparel design, working as a milliner. More recently, during Covid lockdown, she and a friend set up their own on-line sustainable children’s clothing brand.

Catherine has no previous experience of being a Clerk, and will undertake training once in post. Her job is part-time, working from home 10 hours a week on council business and attending monthly meetings at the Village Hall. Her role is vital to the smooth and effective functioning of the council.

Stewart Payne, Parish Council chairman, said: “We were very impressed with Catherine when we met her at her interview. She came across as personable, capable and enthusiastic, as well as presenting an excellent CV. We had no reservations in recommending her to the full council.

“The job of Clerk is a responsible one and includes the roles of Responsible Financial Officer and Proper Officer. There is much to do and we think we have the right person to do it. We are all looking forward to working with her.”

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