The Leader of Nottingham City Council has thanked its outgoing Director of Public Health after she accepted a new role on the south coast, starting later this year.

Councillor David Mellen has praised Alison Challenger for her leadership during the Covid pandemic and for her wider work on the city’s public health agenda over the past five years.

Mrs Challenger, pictured, has been the council’s Director of Public Health since 2016 and will take up the same role at West Sussex County Council in April.

She will continue to lead Nottingham’s Covid response with the support of her team until that time, and a recruitment process has already started to appoint her successor.

Councillor Mellen said: “I’d particularly like to thank Alison for the incredible work she’s done in the past year of this pandemic, together with her public health colleagues at the council and partner organisations.

“It’s been a really tough time for everyone but Alison has been on the front line driving our public health response with her usual calmness, authority and leadership. I pay tribute to her efforts and that of the wider team.

“But her work in Nottingham goes much further than the current Covid situation. Alison has pushed forward with change in a number of areas and has been a valued and respected voice on Nottingham’s Health and Wellbeing Board.

“We’d like to wish her all the best in her new role in the south of England where I know she’ll have a really positive impact on the lives of people in West Sussex.”

Mrs Challenger is a clinically-qualified public health professional with a background in nursing and midwifery, who has worked in Nottingham for 30 years.

She is a member of the Faculty of Public Health Board, the Association of Directors of Public Health Council, and the Public Health England Tobacco Control Implementation Board.

Mrs Challenger said: “Deciding to leave Nottingham City Council has been a really hard decision. I’ve worked in the city for three decades now, with the past eight years in Public Health here, and been lucky enough to do that alongside so many talented and committed colleagues.

“I feel the time is right for me to make a change to my lifestyle and it has always been a desire of mine to live close to the coast at some point. I’m excited to be moving to West Sussex but will miss a lot of people here and thank them for the support over the years, especially the past 12 months.

“Being responsible for public health in a large city like Nottingham during a global pandemic has been all-consuming. We have navigated through some tough times with the support of our partner organisations, but I truly feel there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine roll-out gathering pace. I’d urge everyone to take up the offer when their turn comes round.

“Finally, I’d like to thank my fantastic Public Health team at the council who have worked so hard in recent months and been a great support. Nottingham will be in very good hands while my successor is being appointed.”