Battersea CEO leaves to take Commonwealth war memorial role

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home chief executive Claire Horton is quitting to oversee the management of the war graves of Commonwealth service personnel who fought in the two world wars.

Claire Horton is stepping down from the animal welfare charity after more than a decade leading the charity.

She is to take up the role of director general of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in January 2021. The global body works to recognised the 1.7m commonwealth service personnel who lost their lives in the two world wars. It operates in 23,000 locations globally.

“Battersea is an incredible organisation, filled with the most talented and dedicated people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with and all totally focussed on changing and saving the lives of animals,” said Horton, who was awarded the CBE in the 2020 New Years Honours List.

“I am deeply honoured to have worked alongside them for so long and I want to thank everyone at Battersea for their unstinting support, and their belief in me, over the last eleven years. Whilst I might be leaving as CEO, I shall remain very much part of the Battersea family, as a staunch supporter, fundraiser and advocate and my commitment to changing the world for animals remains as strong as it ever did.

“My move to head up the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in January takes me into a new sector and to a pivotal role in the historic, global institution that honours and cares for the graves and memorials of the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, ensuring they will never be forgotten.

“I feel extremely privileged to be afforded this truly unique and unrivalled opportunity.”

Battersea chairman Paul Baldwin added: “Claire has been hugely committed to Battersea, an exceptional leader who has built and led her teams from strength to strength.

“Her passion, energy and drive truly inspired our staff and volunteers and she leaves a strong and lasting legacy. Thanks to Claire, tens of thousands of dogs and cats all over the world face a brighter future, one in which they will be treated with the love, care and respect they so deserve.

“On behalf of the Board, staff, and volunteers of Battersea I would like to thank Claire for her outstanding contribution to the charity over the past 11 years and wish her the very best of luck for the future.”

During her time at Battersea, Horton oversaw a revamp of the organisation that saw its income quadruple and lobbying activity increase. This included political campaigns to change legislation around animal cruelty sentences and microchipping dogs. It also launched an academy supporting animal rescue centres globally and worked with ITV on the series Paul O’Grady, For the Love of Dogs.

The charity says it will start the recruitment process for a new chief executive “in the near future”.

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