Obituary: Carol Paton, Housing and care professional known for her dedication
Born: 28 December, 1959, in Dundee. Died: 14 March, 2012, in Edinburgh, aged 52.
Carol Paton, who has died peacefully at her Edinburgh home at the age of 52, was a highly respected and successful professional in the housing and care sector and a warm generous friend and colleague, as inspiring in her approach to imminent death as she had been in her all-too short life.
Carol was born and raised in Dundee where she attended Dundee High before attending Edinburgh University, graduating in 1980. She continued her studies at Nantes University before eventually returning to Edinburgh to undertake further study at Napier College.
After a brief spell as a tour guide, her professional life commenced in earnest in 1986 when she became a trainee with the Housing Corporation. She then worked for Edinvar and Horizon Housing Associations, where she became a passionate advocate of barrier-free housing.
She became director of Lorne Area Housing Association in Edinburgh in 1994 and, after some years there, took up a senior post in the regulation arm of Scottish Homes and its successor, Communities Scotland. She returned to Edinvar (now Places for People) as deputy managing director and played an important part in Edinvar’s response to the Cowgate fire.
In 2004, she set up her own company, Paton Independent, through which she provided housing and management consultancy services including interim management services to several not-for-profit organisations, most notably Cumbernauld Housing Partnership.
Always keen to extend herself, she trained and qualified as a mediator and professional coach and provided mentoring services to fellow professionals.
She was appointed to the board of the Care Commission in 2006 and continued to serve on its successor body, the Care Inspectorate, until the month before her death.
She was described by the chairman, Frank Clark, as an outstanding member who, apart from being loyal, conscientious and painstakingly thorough in her work, displayed massive integrity in all that she did.
She was also a lay member of the Employment Tribunal. She was appointed as a member of the Standards Commission for Scotland in January 2011, a recognition of her very high standards of probity and integrity as well as her substantial other talents.
Carol transformed every organisation she worked with, infusing the workplace with her positive thinking.
She was absolutely committed to making a real difference to the social wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in society and she believed passionately in the role which the Care Inspectorate could play in making this happen.
She was so genuinely well liked both for the contribution she made and for her sense of fun. She was known as a problem solver, who never shied away from conflict. She demanded high standards of others, but always demonstrated them herself. She never quite believed that she was innovative or creative, however to others she was a true inspiration.
Carol was so much more than the model professional. To her countless friends she offered warmth, her characteristic self-deprecating humour and an exceptional generosity; every encounter with her was rewarding and memorable.
She lit up a room when she entered it; always colourfully and stylishly dressed, she stood out in a crowd. She enjoyed life to the full, from singing, walking, tennis and badminton to Prosecco, malt whisky and good food. She also enjoyed a good argument, usually as an accompaniment to the latter.
And she never missed a shopping opportunity; if the jewellery shops in Bruntsfield have not experienced the recession before today, they will now.
Seven years ago she found the companionship and love of Jim Middleton.
Their wedding in August 2011 was a memorable occasion, with Carol radiant in her trademark purple and pink. Exactly one day later she was diagnosed with cancer.
She tackled her illness as another project to be managed positively, never with anger or self-pity. The end came suddenly, but she was spared suffering.
She had 26 items on her to-do list on the day she died.
She described her illness as like being in a good film which you have to leave before the end.
For Jim and her friends her untimely death will leave a huge gap and public life in Scotland is much the poorer. However, the lives of her many friends and colleagues are all the richer for the time shared with her.
DAVE ALEXANDER, MARNIE ROADBURG and DEREK O’CARROLL
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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