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Educational charity's CEO steps down

By Liz Nicholls

After two decades at the head of one of Kent’s most influential charities, Simon Dolby is to stand down as its Chief Executive.

Simon Dolby with the KM Charity Team's Green Apple Awards.
Simon Dolby with the KM Charity Team's Green Apple Awards.

Mr Dolby founded Inspire Schools, which trades as the KM Charity Team, in 2000 and built it into a major force in the education and charitable sectors.

Now every week more than 60,000 children and families at 200 schools use the charity’s award-winning Active WoW walk to school scheme and Buster’s Book Club reading reward initiative.

The charity stages the annual Kent Teacher of the Year Awards with sister events held in London and Sussex, as well as the Green School Awards, Young Cooks children’s MasterChef-style event and the Bright Spark Awards, which is a Dragons’ Den-style science showcase.

To support the charitable sector with its fundraising the charity stages collaborative events where the bulk of the sponsorship raised goes to the good causes the participants are most passionate about. Events include the annual KM Dragon Boat Race, KM Big Bike Ride, KM Colour Run and KM Abseil Challenges. A small slice of any sponsorship goes towards the KM Charity Team’s literacy initiatives. And for 20 years he has staged the popular KM Big Charity Quiz events which raise around £25k for good causes each year.

His decision to stand down as CEO six months before the charity starts its 20th anniversary celebrations is a deliberate one to ensure his replacement has a bumper year to kick-start their new reign.

He said: “It is never easy deciding when to move on, particularly as the founder of a charity making such an important impact in Kent. It has been emotionally a difficult decision but I feel the time is right to let someone else take the helm and will support the charity to ensure its success continues.”

He added: “This year has been one of my proudest as the amount we raised for other causes over our history has now passed £1 million; the number of reading minutes achieved through our reading reward scheme Buster’s Book Club topped 10 million minutes for the first time in a year; and the lifetime figure for green healthy journeys passed seven million. I couldn’t be more proud of the achievements of the charity and the dedication of the staff involved.”

Mr Dolby will take on an ambassadorial role assisting a small number of KM Charity Team’s high profile events. Professionally he is taking on a new role in a Kent company and expects to reveal more in the coming weeks.

“This is a fantastic and unique organisation to lead and I look forward to advising Trustees of the charity when it comes to selecting my replacement,” he said.

The job vacancy can be viewed in the recruitment section of the charity's website.

Fact-file

  • In 2005 the charity won The Queen’s Award for voluntary service linked to its walking bus initiative.
  • The charity has won five international Green Apple environment awards for its Active WoW and green travel initiatives.
  • The reading reward scheme Buster’s Book Club has recorded 30 million minutes during its five years of operation with 10m achieved this academic year.
  • More than 17,000 children have passed one of its bronze, silver or gold road safety skill tests over the last two decades.
  • 6,600 nominations have been assessed for the Kent Teacher of the Year Awards in its 19 years.

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