The Chair of Co-operatives UK, Ben Reid, told the News that Dame Pauline — who will now be focusing on new roles and responsibilities with the International Co-operative Alliance and Cooperatives Europe — had played a vital role during a time of tremendous change for the entire UK Movement.
“We are sorry to see Pauline go,” said Mr Reid. “She has achieved a huge amount in the time she has been with us and her determination, vision, focus and energy will all be missed.”
Co-operative Group Chief Executive Peter Marks said Dame Pauline had always been a champion of the co-operative cause, whether in her previous career as a Labour/Co-op MEP or, since January 2000, as head of Co-operatives UK. “I have always enjoyed our frank and robust discussions on all matters co-operative,” said Mr Marks. “And I know that her defence and promotion of the co-operative ideal will find even greater expression on the world stage.
“Along with all her friends at the Co-operative Group, I would like to wish Pauline all the best for the future.”
Labour/Co-op peer Lord Graham of Edmonton, a former chairman of the United Kingdom Co-operative Council, which merged its operations with Co-operatives UK, commented that Dame Pauline is a “born leader” who led from the front and never shirked the gruelling schedule she set herself.
Said the former Labour Chief Whip in the House of Lords: “Pauline took our message and values to places where they had rarely been seen and, undoubtedly, was an ambassador of whom we can all be very very proud.
“While the UK Movement will be the poorer for Pauline’s going, the international co-operative community will be the richer as she takes her expertise and experience to new places.”
Added Lord Graham: “One of Pauline’s great achievements at Holyoake House was to unite the disparate strands of the co-operative empire. She succeeded in giving the many expressions of co-operative enterprise a place at the top table, for which the non-retail sector has been very grateful.
And Dave Boyle, Chief Executive of the Co-op-inspired Supporters Direct organisation, said Dame Pauline had been a principal driving force behind the co-operative renaissance over the past ten years.
Said Mr Boyle: “From the creation of the Co-operative Commission to the long-needed overhaul of the legislative framework; from the renewed confidence of the retail sector and the vibrancy of the new mutual sector Pauline has been at the centre, encouraging, promoting and supporting.
“As well as her strategic vision and management skills, her personal qualities have been crucial too. The energy she brought to the role was something to behold; whenever one felt that the challenges of pushing co-operation forward were perhaps a little wearying, ten minutes with Pauline would have you on the up again. She leaves a Movement in rude health that gives her successor a fantastic legacy to take forward.”
Dame Pauline’s successor, Ed Mayo, is expected to take over at Holyoake House early next month.