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Retiring council managers helped shape economy of region

By Kyle Ritchie

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Two long-serving Aberdeenshire Council service managers are retiring this summer – leaving a lasting impact on the economy of the north-east.

Morna Harper and Roddy Matheson have led the council’s economic development service for a combined total of 45 years and have both managed projects which have driven significant growth and economic benefit in the area.

Economic development at Aberdeenshire Council covers several areas of work, all with a focus on improving the sustainable economic growth, diversification and regeneration within Aberdeenshire and the wider region.

Roddy Matheson and Morna Harper have a combined total of 45 years service with Aberdeenshire Council
Roddy Matheson and Morna Harper have a combined total of 45 years service with Aberdeenshire Council

Morna Harper has led a team which covers business advice, community business support, business gateway, employability, regeneration and town centres.

She was instrumental in launching the Support for Aberdeenshire Business grant, which has supported countless business and numerous jobs for more than 13 years.

The Aberdeenshire Towns Partnership and Building Buchan New Beginnings project were also initiated by Mrs Harper, and she coordinated a response team to help Ballater businesses get back on their feet following Storm Frank in 2015.

Roddy Matheson has managed the industry sectors side of the team since 2002, leading his teams of European policy and funding and industry experts who support the growth of the agriculture, fishing, energy and tourism sectors.

In recent years his focus has been on working with partners on the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme – helping more than 80,000 homes in Aberdeenshire to access fibre enabled broadband.

He was also pivotal in the development and adoption by the council of biomass energy in several academies, and the installation of an electric cable in Fraserburgh Harbour to expand its capability.

Chairman of infrastructure services Peter Argyle said: “Morna and Roddy are both passionate and dedicated individuals who will be very much missed within Aberdeenshire Council.

“I can confidently say that for myself and on behalf of all senior councillors who have relied on their steady hand, vast knowledge and unwavering professionalism.

"I wish them well in their retirement and have no doubt that the work they’ve done over their many years of service will have a lasting impact and continue to be built on by the rest of the Economic Development team.”

Mrs Harper will be setting off to retire and walking her second round of Munros, as well as gardening and spending time with friends and family.

Mr Matheson's retirement will be spent with his family and he will continue to support the local tourism industry in his role as a volunteer at Grampian Transport Museum.

Head of economic development Belinda Miller said: “Both Morna and Roddy have provided a tone that has sustained good humour, good decision making, strong values and a commitment and loyalty to Aberdeenshire Council and the communities within which they work.

“It is sad that we will lose such knowledge and experience in one swoop, but equally, they’ve both passed on their values and qualities to numerous staff who have been proud to work for them and with them over the years. It is a new chapter for both them and the service.”

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