COUNCIL chiefs and union members united to bid a fond farewell to a tireless campaigner.

Pamela Jefferies is retiring after 14 years as branch secretary for the Dorset county branch of Unison and more than 20 years working for Dorset County Council.

At a send off at the Colliton Club there were speeches from colleagues, the council’s chief executive and a former leader before she was presented with gifts and said her own farewell.

Pamela will be succeeded in her role by Amanda Brown, who admitted her predecessor would be a ‘hard act to follow’.

She said: “It’s a momentous occasion for everybody, I would just like to say thank you very much to Pam for being my mentor and bringing me on.

“I hope she’ll stay alongside us and will be a wealth of support.”

Former council leader Angus Campbell, who led the authority for seven years while Pamela was in her role, said she should be ‘proud’ of all she has done for Unison members and the council as a whole.

He said: “I think we owe you and the unions a great deal. You have done us proud and you have done your members proud. A happy workforce is good for all of us.”

Chief executive Debbie Ward praised Pamela’s ‘integrity’ and ‘honesty’.

She added: “You will leave behind a hole without a doubt but you will also leave a strong and lasting legacy, not least of which is Amanda.

“I thank you for all that you have done, for your challenges, for your pragmatism and simply for bringing your own personal touch.

“I have really enjoyed working with you and I think the organisation has benefited hugely.”

Pamela told the gathered crowd that she had been ‘privileged’ to work with everyone.

She said: “What I will miss I think is each and every one of you I have had the pleasure and challenge of working with over the years on both sides of the table.

“I have always thought we were on the same side really, even though some might not have always have seen it that way.

She added: “I have been privileged to work with you all and have the opportunity to try and make a difference to people’s working lives.”

Pamela said she was going to ‘have a bit of a break’ first but was sure her campaigning days were not over.

She added that she might also go on an art course as it was something she had wanted to do when leaving school but had not had the opportunity to do before.