Kate Culverhouse, Chief Executive of Groundwork NE & Cumbria, is celebrating 25 years with the charity, which works to improve the lives and places of local people.

Kate first joined Groundwork as Project Officer in 1992, working with communities in West Durham to protect and preserve their local environment and heritage.

From there, her ability to find solutions to even the most difficult problems, saw her progress into managerial roles, eventually becoming acting regional director for Groundwork and overseeing the amalgamation of several smaller trusts into Groundwork North East & Cumbria in 2009.

Under Kate’s leadership, Groundwork NE & Cumbria has grown to directly employ around 200 members of staff at 21 offices across the North, with a turnover of more than £11million. The charity supported more than 1,000 people to gain official qualifications or progress into employment last year, in addition to improving and maintaining 334 hectares of land, and saving 141 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Equally as remarkable as Kate’s ability to drive forward the charity’s development and ability to support those in need in the North East and Cumbria, is her own personal journey.

Kate’s family relocated to the North East when she was 13, a move which saw her transition into a rebellious teenager.

At just 15, Kate left school with no qualifications. She spent two years working on a kibbutz in Israel, before returning to the region where she put herself through her O and A levels, followed by a degree course in English and History at Newcastle Polytechnic. Since then she has added a post graduate degree in Tourism Management and two post graduate qualifications in Environmental and Voluntary Sector Management to her CV.

This pattern of development and reinvention has continued throughout her time with Groundwork. As central government cut its funding to the charity, she made strides to ensure that Groundwork could continue to help those in need by becoming more self-sustainable and developing its projects to enable it to secure additional funding from other sources.

This includes delivering employability programmes on behalf of local authorities, working with private organisations and the creation of social enterprises, such as the Greenhouse business centre and gwk shop in Workington, with all profit pumped back into improving Groundwork’s offering.

Commenting on her time with Groundwork, Kate Culverhouse said: “It feels amazing to be celebrating 25 years with Groundwork. I feel very privileged to have been part of the organisation and to have led it through some fairly turbulent times. Every time we have faced difficulty, we have adapted and emerged as a better, more durable organisation able to continue to help people improve their lives and environments.

“After 25 years, I still love my job. Seeing the benefits that Groundwork provides to the people we work with and the difference we make is very satisfying. I hope to continue my work with the organisation for many more years to come.”

Kate’s achievement was recognised by the Board of Groundwork NE & Cumbria at its most recent meeting, when she was presented with gifts, before being thanked by the Chair of the board, Ian Brown.

Mr Brown said: “I think Kate’s leadership and strategic vision for Groundwork NE & Cumbria is unrivalled. She has been a steady hand throughout some difficult times and is always prepared to listen to advice and feedback from colleagues of all levels.

“The skills that Kate has developed over the last 25 years have come to the fore during the past three or four years as she has developed Groundwork’s offering to ensure our long-term viability for many years to come.”