Child of Achievement names CEO

The new charity to emerge from the ashes of the discredited Child of Achievement Awards has appointed former Sign fundraiser Deborah Skillicorn to the post of chief executive.

The Child of Achievement Partnership is the successor to the Child of Achievement Awards, which was stripped of its charitable status by the Charity Commission last September after three of its trustees misappropriated more than £100,000.

The new entity has appointed five new trustees, registered its name with the Charity Commission and plans to launch in June.

The new charity is set to host an awards ceremony early next year, with 20 prizes, as opposed to the 150 annual honours that used to be handed out.

Skillicorn spent two years as corporate fundraising manager at Sign, the charity dedicated to mental ill-health and deafness.

She was appointed by chairman Steve Powell, who was installed by the Charity Commission in 2002 while its inquiry team audited the now defunct charity's accounts. Powell, who continues in his 13-year-old role as chief executive of Sign, appointed Skillicorn from a field of candidates because of her "enthusiasm, media skills and because she has many of the abilities we thought we would need to get this charity going again".

She began her role on 16 March and was last week confronted with the fallout of the old charity, after the results of the Commission inquiry were revealed in the Evening Standard by former BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan.

Skillicorn admitted she was thankful not to be relaunching the charity this week, because the media frenzy created by Gilligan's report "would have placed the charity in jeopardy" and scared off potential award sponsors.

Children's charities Weston Spirit and the Wooden Spoon Society are likely to nominate children for the charity's first awards ceremony.

She said the awards would switch from "celebrating survival to applauding innovation, entrepreneurs and campaigners whose projects or ideas can be replicated by other organisations." It will be assisted by a small grants programme of around £50,000.

The new charity is around £120,000 in credit. According to the Charity Commission, the old trustees have repaid almost all the money they owed, apart from £10,000 from Julie Fisher, the former charity's disgraced founder.

New trustees include Francine Bates, chief executive of Contact a Family, Erica De'ath, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Childcare Organisations, and Sally Whitaker, director of resources and marketing at the National Children's Bureau.

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