We're asking everyone involved with the Co-operative Movement and beyond to say a heart felt thank you to Gillian Lonergan, who after over 36 years as part of the Co-operative Union, Co-operative College and Co-operative Heritage Trust, retires at the end of this month.

Joining the Co-operative Union back in January 1983, Gillian has held a number of positions throughout her long and distinguished career, including Head of Archive and Learning Resources, as well as managing a number of high profile projects such as a major two year redevelopment project of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum. Re-opened in October 2012, the revamped space included new interactive education and exhibition areas, as well as improved access.

Gillian's passion for co-operatives and co-operation has seen her become revered across the movement and beyond, with her depth of knowledge on co-operatives truly astounding.

Simon Parkinson, our Chief Executive and Principal had this to say:

It is difficult to sum up the contribution that Gillian has made to the Co-operative College, the Co-operative Heritage Trust and the wider Co-operative Movement. She is rightly recognised for her knowledge and passion on all things co-operative, and whilst she may be retiring from her formal role, I have no doubt she will continue to make a massive contribution to the movement as a whole. Everyone at the Co-operative College wishes her well in all she does going forward.

Special interview

As a tribute to Gillian's wonderful career there will be a special interview with her as part of our Centenary edition of Co-op News which is released later this month.

Gillian in the shop area of the original Rochdale Pioneers

Filmed at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum against the backdrop of the original Rochdale Pioneers shop dating back to 1844, the inspiring location served as the perfect setting for Gillian to reminisce on some of her favourite items from the archive, the challenges that co-operators have faced down the years and her plans for the future.

You can also view the interview with Gillian below

Join in the conversation

Wish Gillian a happy retirement by getting in touch through our social media channels using #ThankYouGillian to join in the conversation.

You'll find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, whilst more information about the Rochdale Pioneers Museum can be found here. Details of the National Co-operative Archive, including how you can book in your visit to explore some of the remarkable items in the collection, can also be found here

Special Webinar

If you'd like to hear more about the history of the College or you've got a question that you'd like to ask Gillian then why not sign up for our free webinar taking place on the 26th march at 4pm. Taking you on a 100 year journey of the Co-operative College, the webinar will explore our reach, our learning and our many different homes. For more information and to book your free place click the button below.

More information