NORTH Devon Hospice has appointed a new chief executive.Gordon Lester will take the helm of the Newport-based charity at the beginning of April. He takes over from Philip Jewell, who is standing down after 23 years.Mr Jewell was the first employee of what was then known as Hospice Care Trust (North Devon) when appointed administrator in 1985. "When the hospice started, the care team consisted of just three nurses who worked in the community," said Mr Jewell. "Since then, we have enjoyed unprecedented growth. We have an amazing team of eight community nurses, considerable day facilities and a fantastic bedded unit. "However, none of that would have been possible without the ongoing support of the North Devon community, so I would like to say a personal thank you to all the individuals, groups and businesses who have supported us through the years. The fact that we are able to provide such essential care to so many people is down to the generous spirit of our area."Mr Jewell said his successor, Gordon Lester, would inherit an organisation with committed and talented staff, a deservedly strong reputation in the community and a sound financial basis. Mr Lester, currently operations director of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), said he was "hugely excited" by the prospect of joining the North Devon Hospice. "When I first visited the hospice, the enthusiasm and dedication of the staff and volunteers really shone through," he said. "It will be wonderful to promote the hospice's essential work in this beautiful part of the country.