Caroline Thomson will step down as Chair of Oxfam GB next year.
Ms Thomson informed staff and Oxfam’s Council of Trustees earlier today that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would therefore not be seeking a second term as chair.
Thomson said: “I am sad to be leaving Oxfam GB at an exciting time when it is reimagining itself so that over the next decade it can be an even more effective partner to help people living in poverty to improve their lives.
“This is a very personal decision. Ordinarily, I would be looking forward to overseeing the next chapter in Oxfam’s 77-year history. However, in the circumstances this is the right decision for Oxfam and for me. While I feel fit and healthy now, I want to focus on staying that way.
“As a lifelong supporter, I have been honoured to contribute to its vital work. Oxfam occupies a unique place in British life, providing often lifesaving, aid to millions of people in some of the most challenging environments on Earth, publicly challenging policy makers when their actions hurt the poorest people and running a network of national shops which play an important part in communities across the UK.
“During the past two years, we have also had to challenge ourselves and learn from very public failings. I know that Oxfam’s trustees, leadership and staff are committed to building on the reforms we have made and delivering further improvements to ensure that Oxfam always lives up to the high standards we expect from ourselves and others.
“I am announcing my departure now so that Oxfam can begin its search for my successor. I would like to thank our CEO, Danny Sriskandarajah, and all staff at Oxfam for their commitment and support. I will depart next year, confident that Oxfam is in safe hands.”
Responding to Thomson’s announcement, Oxfam GB Chief Executive Danny Sriskandarajah, said:
“This has obviously been a difficult personal decision but it is typical of Caroline that she has been open and frank and has put Oxfam first.
“We have been enormously fortunate to have Caroline as our Chair, I would like to personally thank her for the opportunity to lead Oxfam GB and for her calm authority and insight which has been invaluable during my first few months in post.
“Caroline’s leadership and experience would have been valuable at any time but has proved indispensable over the past two years as she has ensured that Oxfam has not flinched in learning the tough lessons it needed to.
“We will be sorry to say goodbye to Caroline, but we fully understand her decision and I look forward to continuing to work with her over the coming months.”
Recruitment for a new Chair of Oxfam GB will begin immediately, with the successful candidate expected to take up the role in the New Year. A timeframe for the handover will be agreed once an appointment has been made.
Notes to editors
Caroline Thomson became Chair in October 2017. Chair of Oxfam GB is an unpaid, voluntary position.
The standard term of office for our Chair is three years. Trustees, including the Chair can serve a maximum of two terms.
A short biography of Caroline is available https://www.oxfam.org.uk/what-we-do/about-us/our-trustees