Sector mourns Gill Astarita

Gill Astarita, chief executive of Volunteer Reading Help and a well-known figure in the fundraising world, has died after a battle with cancer.

Astarita's long-time friend, PR consultant Penny Stevens, said she would be remembered as a passionate and inspirational leader who "helped a great many other people and brought hope, confidence, inspiration and laughter to many lives.

"Gill wanted to be remembered as an agent for change, changing people's lives for the better and changing organisations to make it happen. Never content with good or very good, she always pursued excellence with a passion."

Astarita joined the voluntary sector from university. She worked as a fundraising manager with Prisoners Abroad, Addaction and the Pre-School Learning Alliance before becoming director of marketing and communications at Action for Blind People. She pioneered the charity's use of face-to-face fundraising and direct marketing and helped its income grow from £3m to £13m.

From there she became chief executive of Volunteer Reading Help, where she helped to set up the Fundraising Academy, an organisation that trains people to find their first jobs as fundraisers.

She was married to Mark Astarita, director of fundraising at the British Red Cross.

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