The end of an era for St Cuthberts Care

22 April 2014

Austin Donohoe

After nearly two decades at the helm of St Cuthberts Care our Chief Executive, Austin Donohoe, is set to retire next week.

The troubleshooting chartered accountant was appointed in 1996 at the request of Bishop Ambrose, to help turn around the financial fortunes of Catholic Care North East and now, thanks to Austin, St Cuthberts Care is one of the largest and most successful social care charities in the region.

"The Trustees and I are deeply grateful for all he has achieved for St Cuthberts Care," said Fr Michael Campion, Chairman of St Cuthberts Care's Board. "His leadership has been one of great courage and tenacity."

Over the years, Austin has re-branded and re-shaped the charity’s fostering and children’s residential services and revolutionised disability provision in the North East. The Alan Shearer Centre and more latterly, its dedicated fundraising arm, the Alan Shearer Foundation, were pioneered by Austin; he led the largest fundraising campaign in the history of the charity and in 2006 succeeded in raising £1.5million, in just over a year, to make his vision a reality. Eight years on, this unique Centre remains the only one of its kind in our region.

More recently, Austin saved Holy Cross home in Sunderland from closure, further strengthening the charity’s Catholic nursing provision for older people.

Bishop Seamus Cunningham said: "It was the biggest financial risk the charity has ever undertaken but Austin knew his team had the expertise to deliver under his close guidance. Just two years on Holy Cross has been seamlessly absorbed into the charity's fabric.

"We are blessed to have had Austin's gifts of wisdom, experience and aplomb to oversee these momentous commercial transactions. He has had my full trust and support throughout."

Austin commented: "St Cuthberts Care means so much to me and it is such a very special place. It has offered me the privilege of working with the most genuine, committed and hard-working people I have ever known."

"It's also important that no matter who leaves or joins the charity its work is undiminished. That's why I'm happy to be handing over to Tim Dillon. I know he shares the ethos that makes St Cuthberts Care unique."

The celebration to mark Austin's retirement after 20 years in charge of the charity will take place at Holy Cross home on Wednesday 30 April, where there will be a Mass followed by presentations and buffet reception.

Anyone who wishes to attend the event should contact Moira Ashman, Deputy Chief Executive, on 0191 228 0111 or email