North-east housing heavyweight Jill Murray is putting improved competency of housing staff at the centre of her presidential campaign. In her first interview in the hotseat, she explains how her campaign couldn’t have come at a better time, writes Carl Brown.
Jill Murray (until her recent marriage Jill Haley) is reminiscing about the early 1980s and working as a junior clerk in the housing department at Sunderland City Council.
“I had a purple hairstyle, which was long at the back, with a long fringe and a skinhead at the top, it was quite outlandish, but you have to remember it was the New Romantic era,” she laughs in her strong North-east accent.
Peter Walls, her boss at the time, who went on to become the well-known chief executive of stock transfer association Gentoo, recalls the teenage Jill as being dressed like a “cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Pocohontas”.
Little was the 16-year-old Murray to know that the job would kickstart a four-decade love affair with the housing sector, which culminated this month in Murray becoming the president of the Chartered Institute of Housing.
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