Air Traffic Control Assistant to top role at the county council for Chairman Gill

Gill Sanders who has today become the new Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council looks all the way back to her period as one of the nation’s first female air traffic control assistants as the time spent in that role gave her the confidence to progress in life.

Councillor Sanders has been a county councillor in Oxford since 2012 but had been a city councillor for 26 years until standing down this year – she has been Vice Chairman of the council in 2017/18 and worked closely with her husband and fellow county councillor John Sanders during his spell as Chairman in 2014/15.

The Chairman of the County Council is the authority’s equivalent of a Mayor at town or city councils – and Councillor Sanders has also previously served as Oxford’s Lord Mayor in 2002/3.

Originally from Swansea in South Wales Councillor Sanders is the mother of two sons and also a Grandmother. She’s lived in Oxford for 41 years. She worked in Oxford city schools for 25 years and eventually as an HR and Administration Manager at a large Oxford city comprehensive school.

She looks back to her early days in the world of work at Fairwood Airport near Swansea with fondness.

“Before I got married, I was an air traffic control assistant and one of very few women in the country to be in the profession. I learned a great deal working with men, many of whom had previously been in the forces. It was a really good grounding and helped build my confidence. I thought to myself ‘if you can do this you can do anything you want to’. It was a good insight into what I was capable of achieving.

“I am looking forward a great deal to my year as Chairman. I already have travelled to many places in the county with my husband John and I was Vice Chairman to Councillor Zoe Patrick in 2017/18 so I know what to expect.

“My diary is already getting full of various events and the lovely thing about the role of Chairman or Mayor is that you go to places you wouldn’t ordinarily go to and meet people you’d never ordinarily meet. It’s wonderful to talk to them and find out about their lives.”

During her time at the county council she has been shadow spokesperson for Children, Education & families and was Vice-Chair of the Education Scrutiny Committee and amongst her other committees have been the Corporate Parenting Panel, the Foster Parenting Panel and the Joint Meeting of Oxfordshire County Council with the Teaching Unions.

Gill will be supporting two charities during her year. The Porch – that provides lunch, an evening meal, assistance with job applications and lots more for those who are either homeless or in need of support of many kinds, and the Rose Hill Junior Youth Club that caters for about 150 children/teenagers each week.

Councillor Les Sibley, who represents the Bicester West division at County Hall, has been elected Vice Chairman for 2018/19.