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Forty years of Williamsburgh Housing Association

Celebration time as housing association marks four decades of improving housing.

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A Renfrewshire housing association is celebrating 40 years of improving housing for thousands of families.

Williamsburgh Housing Association has spent four decades at the forefront of housing in Renfrewshire, growing substantially from its small beginning in the east end of Paisley.

Now 40 years on, the association – based in Cyril Street – has held a celebration event to mark its important milestone as it confidently looks to the next four decades. The event took place in Johnstone as 100 people, including staff, members of the management committee, and those associated with the organisation, over the years, gathered to mark Williamsburgh’s birthday. The celebration was also attended by Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive.

The association has been led throughout its four decades by just one Director – Gordon Williamson – whose entire working life has been spent at the helm of Williamsburgh.

Speaking at the celebration event, Mr Williamson praised the “outstanding vision” of the members of the community who came together in the summer of 1979 to create a new housing association.

He said: “It hardly seems like 40 years ago that Williamsburgh was founded, and, since then, we have always striven to give people the best housing possible, to regenerate areas where we have our homes, and to serve our communities to the best of our ability.

“As we look back, we can do so with a sense of pride and a firm commitment that we will always put our communities first in the true spirit of the housing association movement.”

Mr Williamson also praised the staff at Williamsburgh, calling them “exceptional professionals” whose “dedication and hard work” has made Williamsburgh the successful housing association it is today.

Williamsburgh’s original task back in 1979 was to renovate Paisley’s East End, turning it from an area in decline with tenements in a very poor state to a place where the housing stock was upgraded to modern standards – and, at the same time, preserving Paisley’s impressive tenement heritage.

Properties in six closes in McKerrell Street, Ladyburn Street and Lang Street were the first to be improved, and a programme of refurbishment was then rolled out under what was known as a “housing action areas for improvement” initiative.

Since then, the association has widened its reach across Renfrewshire, helping more communities by improving housing and building new ones in north Paisley, Renfrew and Johnstone.

The occasion also saw the presentation of three long service awards which were given to Suzanne Sweeney, a housing officer who has been with Williamsburgh for 29 years, Lesley Adie, an Administration Assistant with 28 years’ service, and Helen Burns, Finance Officer who has been on the staff for 26 years. All received an engraved rose bowl and a bouquet of flowers

Williamsburgh Chairperson Margaret Symons said: “Our ruby anniversary is a time for celebration, reflection and looking to the future. We can look back with a great sense of pride about the difference we have made and the homes transformed by the work of Williamsburgh. And that’s a legacy anyone can be proud of.”

Pictured: Gordon Williamson with Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive.

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