Antonia Watson, dearly loved and respected friend and colleague, sadly passed away 20th July 2017, surrounded by her family.
Antonia’s professional passion has always been within the homelessness field. Her first job was as a project worker in a hostel in Reading and by the age of 30 she became Chief Executive at Irish Centre Housing in London.
Her admirable career spans across 25 years of working in supported housing and homelessness, in the charity and Registered Social Landlord sector, supporting vulnerable people to live with dignity and hope.
Antonia used her experience to serve on a number of boards, including North London Muslim Housing Association, Women in Prison, Homeless Action and Cymorth Cymru. In 2005, Antonia was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by St Mary’s University College for her work with homeless people at Irish Centre Housing in London.
As Chief Executive of The Wallich between 2010 and 2017, Antonia was passionate about co-production and transformed the organisation into a place where the people receiving support were truly involved at every level of the organisation.
Her vision was one where power was shared, people worked together and support was created in partnership. She developed numerous initiatives and projects which genuinely changed people’s lives for the better and created opportunities for people that rarely had them.
Antonia championed not just traditional homelessness support, but creative ways of helping people to engage in their communities through heritage, arts, culture and sport.
She changed the culture of The Wallich, she took risks and was brave enough to talk about mistakes made and lessons learnt, enabling others to use those experiences to improve their services. Antonia was also humble, despite her position of authority, and her focus on what mattered to those she was helping always took precedent over what she could take credit for. She was a truly selfless and inspiring woman.
In changing the organisation for the better, Antonia’s leadership meant The Wallich changed its focus to the individuals that make up our charity and that is where her loss will be felt most – by those individuals who she worked with, and fought for.
Antonia will be deeply missed, but her legacy continues in the many innovative projects The Wallich has developed during her time with the organisation, that will support and enrich so many people’s lives.
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A Memorial Service will take place in Cardiff. Time and Venue to be released soon – Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be sent details when available.