Boss of £45m Lottery funded Blackpool scheme to step down

The boss of the Blackpool Better Start scheme which supports deprived children in the town is to step down from her role.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 10:50 am
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 10:52 am

Merle Davies will retire from her job as director of the Centre for Early Child Development (CECD) which oversees Better Start later this year.

Since it was awarded Lottery funding in 2014, Merle has been responsible for developing the £45m, 10-year programme to break the cycle of poverty by focusing on families with pre-school children living in Blackpool’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

She said: “Creating and developing Blackpool Better Start has been the biggest professional privilege of my life.

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Merle Davies

“It was always my intention to step down before the end of the project, leaving the organisation in capable and experienced hands for the future.”

Deputy director Clare Law will move up to take charge of Better Start which is a partnership between the NSPCC, Blackpool Council, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, the CCG (clinical commissioning group), the police and the community.

Merle added: “We have had tremendous success and international recognition over this period and this has been down to the sheer ability, commitment and energy of the CECD team and our wonderful partners. I am so proud of all that we have achieved together.”

Merle had previously worked in Borneo, Germany and Scotland covering a range of roles from running a refugee department to being a national education advisor, before returning to a senior role at Blackpool Council.

Council chief executive Neil Jack said: “Over the past 19 years, Merle has made a major contribution to improving children’s services in Blackpool.

“Her passion for early child development and for the town she grew up in, has given her an unrivalled drive and determination to support families and give the children in Blackpool a better start in life.”

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