Westerleigh Group has announced that Debbie Smith, a highly accomplished business leader, will take up the role of Chief Executive Officer from January 10, 2022.
She will succeed Roger Mclaughan, who has stepped down after leading the Group for nearly two years, due to recently learning that he has inherited a faulty gene that leads to Huntington’s Disease, a rare neurological degenerative disease.
Westerleigh Group, which is headquartered just outside Bristol, is the UK’s largest independent owner and operator of crematoria and cemeteries, with 35 sites in England, Scotland and Wales, all set within beautifully-landscaped gardens of remembrance which provide pleasant, peaceful places for people to visit and reflect.
Neil McCausland, Westerleigh Group Chairman, said: “Roger has been at the helm since Spring 2020 and during his tenure, he led the organisation through the Covid-19 pandemic and developed our ‘Growing with Care’ business strategy while making the absolute commitment to delivering exceptional care for our families and colleagues alike.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Roger for his outstanding leadership over the last two years, the commitment to our business and its stakeholders, and the level of care which visibly permeates through everything he does.
“He will be leaving behind a legacy of a robust business growth strategy which will sustainably develop Westerleigh Group over the coming years.
“Understandably, Roger wants to re-focus his priorities over the coming years to concentrate on his family and his health.
“He is undoubtedly a tough act to follow and the Board has undertaken a comprehensive search to find an equally excellent and experienced CEO to build upon Roger’s work. We are confident that, in Debbie, we have found someone we believe is the perfect person.”
Debbie has extensive Executive and Board level experience across the UK and Ireland, predominantly in large, complex, customer-facing organisations in regulated markets culminating in MD, Boots Ireland, CEO Retail, Post Office and Chair, Payzone Bill Payments Services.
She is a Development Board Member of Dementia UK and is renowned for championing inclusivity and diversity throughout her career, most recently, as a Retail Week ‘Be Inspired’ ambassador.
Debbie said: “I am delighted to be joining Westerleigh Group at such a pivotal time, building on the foundations and strategy introduced by Roger and leading the next phase of growth.
“Westerleigh’s success has been built on the quality of its people and their ability to provide exceptional care to every aspect of their work. It’s a privilege to be starting my role at the company with such a strong set of values and purpose.”
Mr McCausland added: “Debbie’s values, purpose and energy are very similar to Roger’s and the Board is confident she will fit in incredibly well with the whole company.”