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11th December 2023

The chief executive of Save the Children UK, Gwen Hines, is to step down next year after six years with the charity to become CEO of Plant Heritage.

Hines, 49, who previously held senior roles in the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank, said that after more than 25 years working on international development and child poverty, she wanted to pursue her passion for plants and conservation in the next stage of her career.

‘It’s been the greatest privilege to lead Save the Children UK and it was a hard decision to leave,’ she said. ‘I will continue to be a strong champion for child rights. But I’ve reached a point in my life when I want new experiences and if I don’t make this happen in my 50s, I never will. Climate change makes it even more important to conserve the UK’s rich diversity of plants for the future.’ 

Hines joined Save the Children in 2018 as executive director of global programmes and was promoted to CEO in July 2021. She has presided over the charity’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with income up 23% to £294 million in the last financial year, boosting support for families in trouble spots such as Ukraine, Afghanistan and the drought-stricken Horn of Africa.

Under her leadership, Save the Children has also focused more on child poverty in the UK and on a global hunger crisis - caused by conflict, Covid and climate change - which afflicts more than 5 million children. The charity is now raising millions of pounds for children caught up in the Gaza-Israel conflict.

‘I am really proud of how Save the Children has evolved over the past six years to strengthen the charity’s focus on impact, and to put children themselves at the heart of its work, including standing with young people who are demanding action on climate change and inequality,’ Hines said.

Richard Winter, interim chair of Save the Children UK, said Hines was a champion of equality, diversity and inclusion, and had been an outstanding leader. ‘Gwen has fostered a culture of kindness and respect while at the same time ensuring great results are achieved for children,’ he said. 

Cecilia Bufton, chair of Plant Heritage, said she was thrilled Hines had agreed to become its CEO. ‘To have such an experienced leader will be a real asset.’ she said. ‘Her passion for horticulture embodies the ethos of everyone at Plant Heritage.’

A new CEO of Save the Children UK is expected to be chosen in the first half of 2024.