The Printing Charity’s chief executive Stephen Gilbert has retired after 12 years in the role.
Gilbert, who was also secretary at the Crawley, West Sussex-based charity, will be 64 in April. He is taking early retirement and left on 31 January.
When Gilbert joined in 2003, the number of people being helped by the organisation then known as the Printers' Charitable Corporation was declining. He developed a new strategic direction and re-launched it as The Printing Charity, winning a second Supplemental Royal Charter in 2014.
Gilbert was also instrumental in forming new initiatives, including the annual Print Futures Awards, to help train young people entering the UK printing, publishing, packaging and graphic arts sectors. The Printing Charity also formed new partnerships with other charities, organisations and trade associations.
By 2015, the year The Printing Charity celebrated the 150th anniversary of the granting of its first Royal Charter, it helped more than 1,000 people.
Fundraising and marketing manager Alison Braganza worked with Gilbert for a decade.
She said: “I’m sure that he would be the quickest to say that he’s very demanding and challenging – he is and in a great way. He really will be missed. He was very motivating and instrumental in making things move forward. There are going to be very big shoes to fill.
“He’s left us at a really brilliant point when we’ve had the best year. The number of people we helped last year went right over the target. Stephen has left on a real high.”
In a statement Gilbert thanked “the many friends” he had made over his 12 years in the job.
He said: “I’m grateful to the trustees for the opportunity to retire a year early. I have enjoyed the 12 years I spent with the charity and I’m delighted to be able to leave on a high in a year when we have almost doubled the number of people helped in 2014.
“Of course I will miss all the people I have worked with and who have made this achievement possible. I feel now is the right time to pass the charity on to the next generation to cherish and protect and deliver the vital work that it provides.
“I would like to say thank you to the team I worked with who have helped me make this happen. I’m so proud of them and everything that they have done and we have achieved together.”
Gilbert has not cut all ties to the organisation. He is expected to contribute through consultancy work.
Meanwhile the charity’s trustees are working on finding a replacement and is expected to appoint an interim chief executive shortly.
In a statement released by the charity they thanked Gilbert for “his drive and vision that have transformed a little-known organisation into a vibrant, national charity”.