Action on Hearing Loss appoints two new executive directors

James Abbott has joined as executive director of finance, and Tim Willett will join on 8 April as interim executive director of fundraising marketing and communications

James Abbott (left) and Tim Willett
James Abbott (left) and Tim Willett

Action on Hearing Loss has announced the appointment of new executive directors of fundraising and finance, three months after embarking on a financial turnaround plan.

The charity announced today that the former director of finance at Scope, James Abbott, had joined the charity as executive director of finance this month. The independent consultant Tim Willett will join on 8 April as interim executive director of fundraising, marketing and communications.

The appointments come shortly after the charity’s accounts for the year to 31 March 2018, published in January, revealed that its auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, had said that "material uncertainty" over fundraising income and other conditions cast doubt on the charity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

The accounts showed that the charity’s expenditure of £42.7m had outstripped its income of £40.1m – the fifth time in six years this has happened – and that the charity had only £1.3m, or the equivalent of a week’s running costs, in free reserves.

As part of the turnaround plan, the charity is selling its offices in Islington, north London, and has relocated most of its finance function to Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

Abbott said he was joining the charity at a "critical time".

In a statement, he said: "I am thrilled to be building a new sector-leading team, which will efficiently and effectively support and drive forward our organisation.

"I am also excited to play a key role in delivering the charity’s financial turnaround plan, addressing the pressure on our liquidity and growing our income.

"The successful delivery of this plan is essential to ensuring that Action on Hearing Loss continues to be there for the millions of people who have hearing loss or who are deaf."

Abbott had been finance director at the disability charity Scope since October 2017, having originally joined the organisation in May 2016 as head of financial planning and analysis. Before that, he was financial planning and analysis manager at Diabetes UK and worked in various roles at Guide Dogs.

Willett spent eight years at the lifeboat charity the RNLI, most recently as head of funding strategy, before becoming an independent consultant.

He said it was a "challenging but exciting time" in the history of Action on Hearing Loss.

"Good communication is so vital in everyday life and changing so rapidly," he said. "It is a wonderful opportunity to work for an organisation that helps an often overlooked community.

"Action on Hearing loss works hard to enable communication, inspire human connections and build inclusion. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?"

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, who was previously chief executive at Scope, said was "delighted to be attracting great talent" to the charity.

"Both Tim and James will play major roles in our continued drive to strengthen our charity and grow our reach and impact to support people living with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss across the UK," he said.

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