Guide Dogs has appointed a former Royal Navy rear admiral as its new chief executive.
Richard Leaman will replace Bridget Warr, who is leaving the charity in March after six years. A spokeswoman for the charity said Warr had not yet decided what to do next but now was a "natural time" to leave because the charity was about to begin a new ten-year strategy to expand its support of blind people beyond only providing guide dogs.
Leaman's most recent naval posting was as a deputy chief of staff at a Nato strategic headquarters in the US. He was awarded an OBE in 1994 for his disaster relief efforts when captaining a ship during Hurricane Andrew.
His contract with the Navy means he will be unavailable for comment before he takes up the position at the end of March.
The charity spokeswoman said that moving from the Navy into the charity world looked like a big leap, but Leaman's time in the Navy had given him extensive experience of leadership, financial management and consulting and working with different groups of people.
She said Leaman had been looking for a new challenge outside the Navy and had jumped at the opportunity. "He grew up with guide dogs on Blue Peter and things like that," she said.
She said he was not visually impaired and had been appointed solely on the strength of his application. But she pointed out that the charity's chair, Tony Aston, was visually impaired, as were five of its 15 trustees.