The chief executive of the Pilgrims Hospices has announced his shock resignation from the post.
Steve Auty, 60, has led the charity for nine years but had come under fire over controversial plans to close the in-patient beds at the Canterbury hospice.
This has now been dropped following a storm of protest.
Steve Auty, Chief Executive of the Pilgrims Hospice, is stepping down
He has overseen a huge growth in the care being offered by the hospices, driven fund-raising up from £7 million to £11 million a year and helped expand care for the dying in the community.
He and his team have also doubled the number of Pilgrims Hospice shops and taken the lottery membership to record levels.
A keen cyclist, he has raised money personally for the charity through epic cycle rides.
The Pilgrims Hospice in London Road, Canterbury
But it was the proposal to close all 16 beds at Canterbury and replace them with increased outreach and community care that prompted a huge public backlash.
He says it is now time to “hand on the baton” to a new chief executive to lead the way forward for the East Kent hospices.
He said: “I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the staff, volunteers and supporters whose hard work and generosity have enabled all of this to happen.
The packed hall for the meeting on the future of the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury held at Canterbury Academy on Friday evening.
“On a personal level, I am proud and privileged to have led Pilgrims and I remain passionate about the need for hospice care to be widely available to the people of east Kent both now and in the future.”
He is due to leave the post at the end of the month and has been thanked for his work and achievements by the charity’s chairman and the Board of Trustees.