The director of St Columb’s Park House, Brian Dougherty has decided to step down.
He is in the process of setting up his own overseas import/export business and he is looking forward to the prospect of running his own enterprise with a mixture of trepidation and excitement.
Brian has been a familiar face and the imaginative driving force behind St Columb’s Park House for the past eight years, including overseeing last year’s £800,000 revamp of the historic house overlooking the River Foyle.
With 25 years as a volunteer in the community sector under his belt, as well as time served at Tullyally and St Columb’s Park House, Brian said he would miss his community work, but he had no regrets about deciding to venture into the world of business and is in the stage of negotiating contracts.
“It is a big step,” he said. “Eight years ago I could not have seen myself doing this.
“I went into community work for all the right reasons. It was rewarding to be able to make a difference.
“The bottom line for me was always attempting to improve the quality of people’s lives.”
Stressing that he had always tried to remain apolitical, he found when the right level of work was put in satisfactory rewards followed quite quickly not only on a personal level but at a social level too.
Describing community work as a rewarding career to do, Brian said it had provided him with fantastic opportunities, including taking a place on the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Northern Ireland Civic Forum (the latter of which is currently in limbo).
“The biggest thing was through my community work it provided me with an MBE, which was the highlight of my career,” he said.
“The community sector has been good to me and I have enjoyed it. There were a lot of opportunities and at times it was hard work, but the bottom line was that it was very rewarding. I am lucky to have done it in this city, because Londonderry has always been quite progressive.”
Reflecting on the how it was a sad time to be leaving the community sector, but also a good time to do so, as community relations here have never been better, he said: “I hope I have contributed to that in some small way. With the Londonderry Bands Forum and others, this city is a lot more progressive than we give ourselves credit for, particularly from the Protestant perspective which has an emerging articulate, competent leadership.