Chailey Heritage Foundation appoints new chief executive

Gareth Germer, incoming chief executive at Chailey Heritage Foundation
Gareth Germer, incoming chief executive at Chailey Heritage Foundation

A member of the senior leadership team at Samaritans is joining the Chailey Heritage Foundation as its new chief executive.

Gareth Germer, who is currently chief operating officer at Samaritans, will start the role in October.

Germer will replace Helen Hewitt, who is retiring to relocate to Bristol with her family.

The charity, which is based in Lewes, Sussex, provides education and care services to children and young adults with complex physical disabilities. It was founded in 1903, and its income was £13.1m last year, according to filings with the Charity Commission.

Hewitt, who has been chief executive since 2013, said she was proud of everything the charity has achieved but added that a key challenge was recruiting and retaining social care staff, which “has been difficult” for the foundation.

She said: "I came only intending to stay for three years but the charity gets under your skin and it is really hard to leave.

"I shall be sad to step away but it feels like the right time for me and for the charity.”

Hewitt added: "Recruitment, particularly in social care, is a national problem and it has been difficult.

"Our ability to deliver our services depends on being fully staffed and we are disappointed if we have to turn anyone away, because we never want to do that.

"I am proud of the staff and their dedication, but we are a complex provision, so staff are naturally key to what we can deliver and indeed how. 

"We now employ over 450 staff and still need more. Our countryside location is wonderful but it makes it harder to attract staff.” 

Germer previously worked in the charity sector at the NSPCC and Rethink.

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