Someone who has not only been at the core of Oasis for decades but who has made a difference to everything she has set her heart and mind to in the roles she has fulfilled over that time.
Last month, the Oasis Directors were thrilled to be able to hold an intimate thank you supper for Chris Neligan, who recently retired as non-executive director of the Oasis School of Human Relations after seven years. We made the decision to ask Chris to be our first and only non-executive director and we have never questioned or doubted that decision.
In some ways this role was the tip of the iceberg. Over the last 25 years Chris has worked as a facilitator, practitioner, Chair of the Oasis Foundation and Oasis Director.
It all started in 1992, when I was ‘dredging’ Hull, as Chris puts it, for potential participants for an innovative Certificate in Counselling. So much has happened since. Last month, over the quiet retirement supper, we talked of the highlights of a significant career in the field of human relations, the initial transition from nursing to counselling, the pioneering work of establishing Peoplecare, guiding Oasis with immense strength and courage as an non-executive director through considerable loss and turbulence, and the personal challenges and joys of a close relationship with a radical enterprise such as Oasis and the people within it. Chris’s professional career goes beyond this of course. It seems that in one way or another Chris has dedicated her working life in service of helping others.
Anyone who knows Chris won’t be surprised that the first memories that came to mind over that time were the births of her grandchildren. In an Oasis world, where traditional family frameworks have often been seen as an outmoded paradigm, Chris has been a shining beacon revealing a real-life family that shows the model can not only work, but flourish.
Chris has brought love, commitment, action, dedication and tenacity to the work and life of Oasis. At times it has simply been her presence and commitment to speaking her truth that has made the all-important difference. Her inner resolve and heart has touched so many of us for the better.
In Chris’s characteristic way, she requested no party, no big send off, just a quiet evening with the peer group that she has worked in for so many years. So I am writing this on behalf of that group. I know the message is echoed by Oasis staff, Oasis Community practitioners, and those clients with whom Chris has worked in one capacity or another as a gifted practitioner and guide. She has always been a fellow human traveller on a shared journey where movement is always possible if we make the space.
We want to say a huge thank you to Chris, and honour and value all that she has brought, and all that we know Chris will continue to contribute in her magical, courageous and gentle way to the on-going work and life of the Oasis Community.
Chris, just know that we shall miss you in the roles you are leaving behind and look forward to discovering what will unfold in the new chapter. A chapter for which we wish you all the best that life can bring.