Tributes paid to Surrey children’s services director

Tributes have been paid to Surrey County Council’s executive director of children, lifelong learning and culture, Dave Hill CBE, who has died suddenly.

Mr Hill was a former president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and joined Surrey in 2018.

During his time at the local authority, he was responsible for the rapid and wholescale improvement in children’s services in the county.

Before joining Surrey, he spent eight years as director of children’s services at Essex County Council.

Prior to Essex he had served as director of children’s services at Merton from 2005 to 2008 and at Croydon from 2008 to 2010.

Paying tribute, chief executive Joanna Killian, said he was ‘an amazing colleague and great friend’.

‘At the heart of it he was just a great guy whose passion in life was his family – wife Jo, and daughters Laurel and Lydia whom he adored – and doing the very best he could for vulnerable children,’ said Ms Killian.

‘My heart goes out to his family and to all his colleagues and staff who I know will be as devastated as I am that we have lost this amazing, talented man,’ she added.

‘His passion for doing the right thing by children and just getting things done shone through and he was the architect of the most brilliant transformation I have ever seen.’

The leader of Surrey County Council, Cllr Tim Oliver, added: ‘Dave was a tower of a man who was held both in respect and affection by those who worked with him at Surrey and across the whole of children’s services.

‘He was thoughtful, inspirational, committed and self-deprecating. He will be irreplaceable.

‘Dave will be much missed by all here at Surrey, and we will work tirelessly to ensure his legacy lives on in delivering the very best support for Surrey’s young people,’ added Cllr Oliver.

The chief officer of ADCS, Sarah Caton, said: ‘It’s hard to find the right words to pay tribute to Dave in a way that he truly deserves, particularly because he has made such an enormous difference to the lives of so many throughout his long career in local government. He was a kind and compassionate man who was deeply committed to improving the lived experiences and outcomes of all children and young people, particularly children in care.

‘A big man with a big heart and an even bigger talent, Dave was a charismatic and inspirational leader. Dave’s presidential year was unique and will always be remembered for its focus on ‘love’, based on the simple premise that all children deserve to be and to feel loved by those who care for and work with them. Dave also cared passionately about changing the narrative about the care system in England. As Chief Officer of ADCS, I had the privilege and the pleasure of working closely with Dave when he was President and he will be sadly missed. What I wouldn’t give now for a bear hug embrace from the marvellous Dave Hill,’ she added.

Photo Credit – Surrey County Council

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