One-of-a-kind Ribble Valley council officer calls it a day after 43 years

Council officer Lesley Helm is retiring after 43 years in Ribble Valley Borough Councils revenues team.
Council officer Lesley Helm is retiring after 43 years in Ribble Valley Borough Councils revenues team.
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A one-of-a-kind council officer is closing her ledger after 43 years in Ribble Valley Borough Council’s revenues team.

Lesley Helm joined the council in 1975 aged 16 as a junior clerk in the then treasurer’s office. After stints as a rate rebates assistant, payroll assistant and rating assistant for the old general rates system, she was appointed business rates officer in 1990, a post she has held ever since.

Over the years, she has seen significant changes to working practices, particularly the switch from handwritten to online ledgers.

She said: “The job was very different when I started. In those days, there were no computers and everything was handwritten, including bills, and we had huge rates ledgers that we kept by hand.

“I remember the first council’s photocopier. The paper came on a big roll and the ink came off in your hand. It’s amazing how much technology has changed the way we work.”

Testimonials have flooded in for Lesley, described as "one of a kind" by members of the business community and an outstanding officer by the council’s chief executive, Marshal Scott.

Katie Bancroft, manager at Manor Court Offices in Ribchester, said: “We have 41 offices and our relationship with Lesley is a key factor in our smooth operation. She really is one of a kind – nothing is ever too much trouble and she is always incredibly helpful. She will certainly be missed and we wish her the very best for the future.”

Whalley estate agent and chartered surveyor John Atherton, who is chairman of Whalley Chamber of Trade, said: “I have been dealing with Lesley for 25 years. She is extremely efficient and helpful, and has provided a first-rate public service. She will certainly be missed.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council chief executive Marshal Scott said: “Despite Government cuts, the council has managed to maintain excellent service levels in one of the sparsest boroughs in the UK.

“This has been achieved by many years of sound management, careful financial planning and the dedication and commitment of officers like Lesley, who know their jobs inside out and provide efficient and effective services to customers they have worked with for many years.

“Lesley is an outstanding officer and we wish her the very best for a happy and well-earned retirement.”

Lesley said she was looking forward to spending her retirement with partner John, touring England in their motor home, visiting family in Malta and pottering around at home, where she is a keen cook and wannabe gardener.