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Surrey care leader steps down after 48 years in the industry

Erica Lockhart, CEO of the Surrey Care Association is set to retire at the end of March, following 48 years of service to the care industry – the last 35 of which have been dedicated to improving care services across Surrey.

During this time, Erica has helped transform the face of care in the county, having helped found the Surrey Care Association in 2005 to act as a voice for independent Surrey care providers, providing a vital link between public sector bodies and those offering frontline care services.

Initially qualifying as a social worker in Newcastle in the early 1970s, Erica’s career progression saw her make her way to Surrey in 1984 in a senior role in social services, and in the intervening years she has taken on a variety of high level posts, staying in the county ever since.

Her varied experience, which covers the full spectrum of social care, left Erica well placed to orchestrate the foundation of the Surrey Care Association, having developed a broad understanding of care needs in the region. Appointed as the association’s first ever CEO, Erica’s departure now leaves an opportunity for someone to take up her mantle, with the SCA yet to appoint a successor – and welcoming potential applicants.

The organisation now represents more than 200 care providers within Surrey and has more than 400 individual members. During the coronavirus pandemic, the association has played a pivotal role in helping to translate Government guidance for local providers, ensuring they’re well informed and updated with the latest developments.

Commenting on her decision to retire, Erica said: “After 35 wonderful years in Surrey, 15 years of which have been spent heading up the Surrey Care Association, I feel now is the time to step down and allow for someone else to take up the reins. The last 12 months have been amongst the most challenging we’ve ever experienced as a sector, but they’ve also been some of the most rewarding. With social care in the spotlight like never before, now is the time to take advantage of that fact, to broaden our horizons and help us continue to grow and expand on the enhanced recognition and appreciation for the vital work we do. Having reached the twilight of my career, I wanted to enable someone new and enthusiastic to succeed to take up the role and be the voice for care providers in Surrey.”

Simon Carter, Chair of the Surrey Care Association, said: “Erica’s contribution over the years has been absolutely tremendous. She’s helped develop the SCA into a voice of authority for care providers, working hard to support them and put forward their concerns, while also championing their triumphs and successes. Her shoes will be incredibly hard to fill, but, whoever it happens to be, has a wonderful example to follow in Erica who has left an outstanding legacy for them to build upon. On behalf of the entire association we’d like to express our immense gratitude for her dedication and hard work. We wish her all the best and a wonderful retirement.”

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