Adrian Burder, who died unexpectedly on 31 October after a short illness, aged 53, was a huge figure in the formation of the modern-day Dogs Trust.
Born in Neath in 1964, Burder was the youngest of three children and grew up in Port Talbot and Colwinston in the Vale of Glamorgan.
He began working for Lloyds Bank after leaving school but quickly realised he had made a mistake and decided to go to university, after which he got a job at the National TV Licensing Authority in Bristol.
His career in the voluntary sector began when he relocated to London in 1989 and was taken on by what was then called the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, now Cruelty Free International, to work in campaigning and fundraising, a job he believed he got because he was the only interviewee to turn up in a suit.
Five years later, he started what was to become a 24-year-long career with Dogs Trust – then called the National Canine Defence League – by joining as its first fundraiser and head of fundraising. He became head of marketing in the late 1990s before taking over as chief executive from the long-serving Clarissa Baldwin in 2014.
The charity said Burder was instrumental in its rebrand to Dogs Trust in 2003 and responsible for its annual income growing from £1.8m when he joined to £106.4m in 2016/17.
His time at the trust included work to reinvigorate its dog sponsorship programme, in which animals that seem unlikely to be rehomed are looked after for the rest of their lives at one of the trust’s 21 rehoming centres in the UK and Ireland.
He had a particular concern that the charity should be involved in animal welfare in his native Wales and was delighted when permission was granted for a rehoming centre to be built in Cardiff, which is due to open in 2020.
Jim Monteith, finance director at the Dogs Trust, who has taken on the role of acting chief executive, said Adrian was "one of a kind". He added: "He will be terribly missed by staff, trustees and volunteers past and present, and we are so grateful for his immeasurable contribution to making the world a better place for man’s best friend."
The charity said he always made an effort to remember everyone’s names and would also be remembered for his quick wit and dry sense of humour. His interests outside work included rugby and music: he played scrum-half for his county and drums in a band called the Industrial Chipmunks. He leaves his wife Jill and sons Harry and Oliver.