Shortly before retiring from his role as Chief Executive of Bury Council, Mike Kelly promised Gilli Paxton (the Borough Archivist) the entire collection of photographs he had taken throughout his career with the Council. True to his word Mike – now fully retired – delivered the collection in person and both Gilli and I were here to accept the donation for our Archives.
Mike’s donation consists of:
Photographs taken between 2003-2015
Paper files recording date/event/people in photo/photo reference number
Reflections on time as Chief Executive March 2002-March 2015
Photos of Civic Trip to Gallipoli 12-15 April 2015 and other information
Reflections of experience of the Gallipoli trip
Photos of the Gallipoli 100 Commemoration Events 24-26 April 2015
My short time working in the Archives has taught me the importance of an accurate and comprehensive cataloguing system and so the first thing that struck me about Mike’s collection was how well-organised it is! All of Mike’s images are stored on an external hard drive; these are searchable by utilising an electronic master file and typing a date, name or image number to display the results. Mike was eager to show me how this worked by typing in a name search – it just had to be Gilli’s! And there she was looking relaxed and glamorous in 2011!
In addition to photographing meetings with colleagues in the Council, Mike has documented many other events such as the opening of new buildings; colleagues’ leaving parties; as well as all the exciting visitors the Council has welcomed over the years. The most notable (for me anyway as I was there!) was Danny Boyle’s visit to Bury library in December 2011.
And I was surprised but really pleased to note that a photo of me was slipped in there from a visit by the leader of the Council, Mike Connolly, to Bury Library’s Computer Centre, again in 2011.
Accompanying Mike’s photograph collection are written reflections on his time as Chief Executive of Bury Council. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mike’s journey as I felt it gave me a privileged insight into the challenges faced when in such a high position of authority:
“As a leader, what you discover quite quickly is that you are a figurehead 24/7, not necessarily in the public’s eyes, that’s the role of the Leader, but certainly for the staff. Ostensibly, it’s not about you it’s about what you represent. I never got carried away with the notion that I was any better than any of my staff, my feet always stayed firmly on the ground. Egos can be hard to manage and can be a distraction but thankfully that was never an issue for me personally.”
After meeting him in the search-room I can confirm these words to be utterly sincere! Mike’s affable nature made me feel completely at ease in his company despite his former status.
Mike’s ‘reflections’ close with a poem written to express what working for the Council has meant to him. Poignantly written at the end of his career, the poem is a nostalgic representation of what Bury, its Council, inhabitants and workers have meant to him over the years.
An Ode to Bury
“Bury is a place of wonderful things
It’s people, it’s place, it’s culture, and the joy this brings
My love affair with Bury started in 2002
How could I have known what challenges lay ahead for me to do
Never flinching; never slackening to become number 1
Our performance from ‘weak’ to ‘excellent’ was finally done
With inspections aplenty we are always under review
Bury though, has seen them all successfully through
In little old Bury, we are lean and mean so they say
Punching above our weight day after day
In 2011 my joy turned to delight on becoming the big boss
To be leader of such a great organisation, I was simply at a loss
It fell to me to lead the way through choppy waters no doubt
Steering a safe path was what it was all about
Our magnificent staff are second to none
They have been to hell and back and so many have gone
Overall, my time in Bury has been full of more highs than lows
Always ducking the arrows and taking the blows
The future of Bury is in good hands with its leadership and wonderful staff
Always positive, always creative, always ready to graft
For me, my time in Bury is over and it’s time to go home
Bury will always be special to me no matter what I do or wherever I roam”
We are incredibly grateful to Mike for this generous donation; not only does it record key aspects of life as a Chief Executive both in words and images but it’s given our service ideas to introduce and develop a new and exciting area within our archives! Our ‘Working Lives’ collection will hopefully encourage the people of Bury to document aspects of their own experiences at work and I’m sure these will prove incredibly useful for future students of Social and Economic History. For more information and advice please contact us using the Contact tab at the top of the page.