Golden girl clocks up 50 years serving West Oxfordshire residents

The Oxford Times: Derek Cotterill makes the presentation to Diana Ray Derek Cotterill makes the presentation to Diana Ray

A HOUSING officer rewarded for more than 50 years of service says she has no plans to retire.

West Oxfordshire District Council housing grants officer Diana Ray was given a standing ovation by councillors at the annual meeting earlier this month.

But the 70-year-old said she wants to continue working for as long as possible.

Witney resident Mrs Ray said: “I have no plans to retire at the moment, as I enjoy my job. There’s not a day I’ve regretted coming here.

“Meeting people is the best part of the job, as I go to visit people in their own homes to help them apply for grants.”

Mrs Ray, who is also celebrating her golden wedding anniversary with husband Mike this year, started work in November 1963 as a trainee environmental health officer with Witney Rural District Council, which became part of West Oxfordshire District Council in the local government reorganisation of 1974.

She has also worked as a technical assistant, where she helped with water sampling and radiation monitoring.

In her current role she helps elderly and disabled people adapt their homes so they can stay there rather than go to a care home.

She said: “It was never the plan to stay here for 50 years but I’ve enjoyed all the work I’ve done for the council.

“The biggest change has been the technology. We never used to have computers or photocopiers so everything was done by hand, stencilled and then run through a print drum – it was always very time-consuming when you’d made an error.”

Derek Cotterill, who stepped down as council chairman at the meeting, gave her a Waterford Crystal clock as a present.

He said: “Diana’s service to the council and the community is unprecedented.

“She is the only member of staff who worked for the council on that first day and who is still employed by the authority today.”

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