Claire Horton, the chief executive of the dogs and cats rescue and rehoming charity Battersea, will step down at the end of January, the charity has announced.
Horton, who has led the charity since 2010, is leaving to take up the role of director-general of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
In a statement, Battersea said it would begin recruiting for her replacement “in the near future”.
Horton was named Charity Chief Executive of the Year in the Third Sector Awards 2016 and was awarded a CBE in recognition of her services to animal welfare in the 2020 New Year Honours List.
During her time at Battersea, Horton has led its “total transformation”, the charity said in a statement, securing continued year-on-year growth, increasing its supporter base, quadrupling its income, repositioning the brand and investing in the expansion of its direct animal services.
The charity has also quadrupled its volunteer numbers during her tenure and participated in successful campaigns including increases to sentences for people convicted of animal cruelty, the introduction of legislation to crack down on puppy farming, and compulsory microchipping of dogs.
Horton said: “Battersea is an incredible organisation, filled with the most talented and dedicated people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with, and all totally focused on changing and saving the lives of animals.
“Their shared sense of purpose and commitment is breathtaking and it is this dynamism and energy that has made Battersea one of the foremost animal welfare organisations in the world.
“I am deeply honoured to have worked alongside them for so long and I want to thank everyone at Battersea for their unstinting support, and their belief in me, over the past 11 years. While I might be leaving as chief executive, I shall remain very much part of the Battersea family, as a staunch supporter, fundraiser and advocate, and my commitment to changing the world for animals remains as strong as ever.”
She said her new role at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission would take her into a new sector and a pivotal role in a historic, global institution.
“I feel extremely privileged to be afforded this unique and unrivalled opportunity,” she said.
Paul Baldwin, chair of trustees at Battersea, praised Horton as an “exceptional leader” who had led her teams from strength to strength.
“Battersea is truly indebted to Claire for her visionary and transformative leadership,” he said.
“Her passion, energy and drive inspired our staff and volunteers, and she leaves a strong and lasting legacy.
“Thanks to Claire, tens of thousands of dogs and cats all over the world face a brighter future, one in which they will be treated with the love, care and respect they so deserve.
“On behalf of the board, staff, and volunteers of Battersea, I would like to thank Claire for her outstanding contribution to the charity over the past 11 years and wish her the very best of luck for the future.”