The chair of the disability charity Scope has stepped down because of ill health.
Andrew McDonald, who has been the role for the past five years, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007 and prostate cancer in 2010.
The charity said today that McDonald’s health had deteriorated significantly in recent months and he felt unable to fulfil his duties.
McDonald has been a key figure in the charity’s transformation in recent years, during which time it sold all its regulated and daycare services with the aim of becoming a more effective campaigning organisation for disabled people.
He was due to continue as chair until November 2020 to complete his second three-year term, but has stepped down from the charity’s board with immediate effect.
He said in a statement he had taken the decision with a "very heavy heart".
He said: "I always said that if my health were to deteriorate such that I would be unable to do the job, I would stand down. Sadly, I think that stage has now been reached.
"I have had increasing problems with prostate cancer and I am no longer able to chair Scope with the energy it deserves."
Claire Flint and Andrew Hooke, trustees of the charity, will become interim co-chairs while a long-term successor to McDonald is sought.
The charity hopes the new person will be able to take up the role in early 2020.
Mark Hodgkinson, who was appointed by McDonald as chief executive of Scope last year, said he was deeply saddened that McDonald was stepping down.
"He has had a hugely positive impact on Scope and our work," said Hodgkinson.
"I will miss his first-rate guidance, leadership and acumen, but Andrew’s health must come first.
"Andrew has been a passionate chair committed to disability equality and his influence will continue to shape our future."