Egg Mayonnaise and other adventures over ten years at Co-operatives UK

I always find it hard to say goodbye, which is why my last few months at Co-operatives UK are going to be an emotional one for me.

Having worked all my life in the social economy, I am leaving to join a social enterprise, Pilotlight, in July. The mission of Pilotlight and its network of business and individual members is to help more charities help more people more effectively. In short, it is a multiplier for social justice (I’ll write more on this in time, of course).

I remain a co-operator. We are a cause and not a post and we are multi-generational, arguably indeed the UK and the world’s longest running social movement. And in the humanity that connects the co-op sector, you can find a strong sense of humour…

And when you are called Mayo, you are called to be made fun of. So I have enjoyed many moments of quirky connection over the ten happy years I have worked at Co-ops UK.

Presenting last week at the Board of Scotmid, Scotland’s leading independent retailer, CEO John Brodie reminded me of when he’d pointed out an Egg Mayo sandwich on a store visit with him and thanked me for naming it.

Of course, plenty of ‘no mayo’ photos too… Colleagues in 2017 sent me the front cover of The Grocer, the retailers essential weekly read, which declared ‘Mayo overtakes ketchup to become UK’s favourite‘.

In terms of places, I spent time in the Plaza del Mayo in Buenos Aires when visiting the Argentine co-operative sector. I have never visited County Mayo, but I have been promised a welcome from credit unions when I do.

With international contact, sometimes the sense of humour can get lost in translation but sometimes it is in the translation.

Visiting the Czech Republic, I was introduced to person after person described as co-operative ‘undertakers’, dozens of them, and only after the event did I find out that the correct translation would have been ‘entrepreneurs’.

Andreas, my counterpart in Bonn contacted me, tongue in German cheek, when I’d shared that I was leaving Co-ops UK and Co-ops Europe to say “This is a significant loss for both bodies. It is too bad and I strongly deplore your decision.”

With Simel from the International Labour Organisation, we have taken photos and selfies in various co-op locations, including Malta and Paris.

It has been hard work and so much fun.