Published: 14:22, 05 August 2020
| Updated: 15:39, 05 August 2020
A new chief executive is set to take over the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, it has been announced.
Richard Morsley will become the man at the helm on September 1, replacing Bill Ferris who retires after 19 years at the end of the month.
Richard has been at the Trust since September as the assistant chief executive.
He said: “I am delighted and feel incredibly privileged to have been selected to take forward the ambitions of the trust.
"Navigating the last four months of the unplanned Covid-19 crisis has been difficult and managing the long-term future of the trust and The Historic Dockyard into a somewhat uncharted future will certainly be demanding.
"I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees, our highly committed, professional team and our dedicated volunteers as we approach the future with confidence.
“The Historic Dockyard is a unique place; a world-class heritage environment and museum, a thriving business community, place of learning and residential community.
"Richard will bring energy, new thinking and experience to lead the team..."
"The strong business model developed over many years provides a great foundation to rebuild our ambitions.
"I am thrilled to be taking on the role at such an important moment in this organisation’s development.”
The selection process for the position was started earlier this year but suspected due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chairman of the Trust, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, praised Richard as the man "with exactly the right skills" to take the Dockyard forward.
He said: "Richard will bring energy, new thinking and experience to lead the team through the challenges and potential opportunities ahead.”
Sir Trevor also praised the outgoing Bill Ferris OBE, who was appointed in 2000.
He said: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Bill for his long service to the trust.
"Bill has achieved much during his career and helped build the multi-award winning trust we are so proud of today.
Through spearheading his “preservation through re-use” strategy, Bill has taken the trust from a charity facing significant financial challenges to one in a more resilient position despite the impacts of this pandemic.
"We are grateful to Bill for staying longer than anticipated to lead the team through the crisis period. We wish him well in his retirement.”
Bill played a major role in securing the long-term future of the venue which, when he arrived, faced significant financial challenges with its reputation at an all-time low.
One of his major achievements was the refurbishment and conversion of the Grade I-listed Fitted Rigging House, thanks to a £4.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Following the announcement earlier this year that he would retire, the 61-year-old said: “I consider my time here to have been a privilege.
"I want to pay particular tribute to the three chairman I have served and to the trustees who have been a constant inspiration from day one.
"It is a fact that it’s the people involved with this great place, along with the spirit of partnership and mutual support that has led to the success we see today."