After seven years as Transaid’s Chief Executive, Chris Saunders OBE was this week presented with a gift to mark his retirement by the charity’s patron HRH The Princess Royal.
The presentation, of a commemorative truck typical of those seen on the road across Africa, followed the official opening of a new warehouse in Tamworth, Staffordshire, by Norbert Dentressangle – a strong supporter of the international development charity.
Saunders, who will step down at the end of March, said: "It has been a privilege to work with such a fine team of people and I am honoured to be presented with a gift from our patron.
"Transaid is a small organisation with massive potential. It demonstrates how important effective well-managed transport is to improving the health and livelihoods of people living in very poor communities in the developing world. I will be handing it over with absolute confidence that there could not be a better team in place to take on and succeed with this challenge."
Since Saunders joined Transaid in December 2003 the team’s list of programmes has expanded from one single scheme to seven projects in five different countries. Further growth is predicted over the next year.
Saunders will be succeeded by Gary Forster, Transaid’s current Head of Programmes, who joined Transaid in 2006 as a volunteer after working as a logistician for Procter & Gamble. He spent two years in Southern Africa helping to establish a network of partners and building the foundation for the Professional Driver Training Project before moving to West Africa where he secured Transaid’s input into three large-scale projects focusing on maternal health, immunization and malaria.
Forster returned to the UK in early 2010 to focus on developing Transaid’s project portfolio, networking with donors and putting teams in place.
He said: "Chris has provided excellent leadership for the team. His resolve has steered Transaid through tough times while his conviction has kept us focused on success.
"In 2010 Transaid delivered more projects, with greater impact, in more countries than ever before. This was only possible because of the work undertaken by Chris to establish Transaid as a strong and capable organisation."
He added: "As well as being a visionary leader, Chris has been a good friend to everyone here."