Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, executive director of volunteering charity CSV, will stand down from her role in February after 47 years at the organisation.
Hoodless was appointed assistant director of CSV in 1963 and was its first employee. She became its executive director in 1986 and in 2004 was made a dame for services to volunteering.
"I'm proud that in the past 47 years volunteering has been brought into the sunshine," she said. "People no longer see themselves as ‘only a volunteer'."
Hoodless said her successor would need to have "excellent influencing skills" and would need to work hard to ensure the charity maintained its statutory funding, which makes up 79 per cent of its annual income.
She plans to take a six-month break after retiring and will then start asking people to leave donations to CSV in their wills. She said she would also do other voluntary work.
Her replacement has not yet been appointed.