Royal British Legion names next director general

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has appointed the RNID’s chief executive Mark Atkinson as its next director general.

He is to join from the deaf people’s support charity in early 2024 and will replace Charles Byrne, who is leaving RBL at the end of this month after ten years at the armed forces veterans’ organisation.

“I am enormously proud to be joining the Royal British Legion – a much loved charity which for over a hundred years has been providing practical support to those who have served in the armed forces and their dependents,” said Atkinson.

“It makes a profound difference to so many lives every day through its welfare work, campaigning, and as champions of Remembrance.”

Ahead of Atkinson joining the RBL’s director of services Antony Baines will lead the charity as interim director general.

RBL chair Jason Coward added: “We’re greatly looking forward to welcoming Mark to the Royal British Legion and benefitting from his extensive experience within the third sector.

“Like many charities, the RBL faces challenges around how we adapt to changing beneficiary needs, how we respond to current economic issues, both in supporting our community and raising vital funds, and how we create the best environment for our staff to thrive.

“These are all issues Mark has previous experience in and I am confident he will bring strong leadership and strategic thinking to the charity as we continue to ensure we’re fit for the future and put those we support at the heart of our work."

Atkinson joined RNID as its chief executive in 2018. He was previously chief executive of Scope for three years and also spent 18 months as its executive director of external affairs.

He has also held senior communications roles at Ambitious about Autism, Youth Sport Trust, Citizens Advice and the Local Government Association.

Last September RBL was named as one of the top ten happiest charities to work, based on the views of its workers and looking at policies including healthcare, pension schemes, maternity and paternity leave and holiday allowances.

This year the charity revamped its iconic poppy to ensure it is plastic free. From this year the poppy has been made using renewable fibres from coffee cup production waste.

RNID names replacement

Meanwhile Atkinson will be replaced as CEO at RNID by the charity’s deputy chief executive Harriet Oppenheimer.

She takes on the role after joining the hearing loss charity three years ago following a career in management consultancy.



“I am thrilled to take on the role of chief executive of this great charity for the next phase of our growth,” said Oppenheimer.

“I’m proud of how far RNID has come in recent years, and I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity we have to make a real impact for the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.

“Mark has been an outstanding chief executive for RNID. Speaking both personally and on behalf of us all, we will miss his vision and leadership, but he leaves behind a thriving organisation. I wish him every success in his future role.”



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