Northam Lodge is turning 40 this year, and has just welcomed a new CEO, Dr Len Lofts, to take over at the helm.

Bideford charity Northam Lodge has a new face at the helm after appointing its new chief executive.

Dr Len Lofts takes over from outgoing CEO Charlie Dixon at the learning disability charity, in the year it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Dr Lofts has previously worked for Wellbeing Services Devon and United Response, and hopes to lead Northam Lodge in developing its support for people with profound and multiple learning and physical disabilities and complex needs.

Dr Lofts has more than 40 years' experience working with people with learning disabilities, beginning as a social worker for Norfolk Social Services.

Northam Lodge’s new chief executive Dr Len Lofts.Northam Lodge’s new chief executive Dr Len Lofts.

His personal interest to improve services began with an uncle who had a learning disability, who was supported by Dr Lofts' grandparents at home.

Dr Lofts has also worked for Barnardo's in London, Bucks Social Services, Mencap and the Fremantle Trust in Buckinghamshire, where he was CEO.

A trained psychotherapist, Dr Lofts also ran his own management consultancy business in the UK and abroad, which included work with Scope and a range of statutory, private, independent and charity organisations across social care, education, housing and employment.

Speaking on his appointment, Dr Lofts, who lives in Welcombe, said: "I am looking forward to building on the massive commitment and achievements made by Charlie Dixon, the trustees, staff, families, carers and the people they support.

"It is not easy to sustain services and grow them, particularly for people with profound and multiple disabilities and complex needs where the costs are much higher, but they have done just that.

"Joining them to build on what they have achieved is a real honour and opportunity for me.

"I live in North Devon and I am looking forward to developing links with organisations in the area across all sectors.

"Even at a time when there are severe funding cuts to social care provision (there have always been funding cuts throughout my career in social care), there remain opportunities to grow services and service quality and to sustain the really important work that Northam Lodge has developed over 40 years.

"It is a privilege for me to be given the opportunity to make a contribution to this. I am excited by it and looking forward to working with such a committed group of people."

Handing over the keys of Northam Lodge to Dr Lofts, Charlie Dixon, who has led the charity for more than 10 years and is leaving to pursue a career in counselling, said: "It's been a great 10 years at Northam Lodge and I've really loved working with our colleagues, volunteers, the people we support and their families.

"I'm sad to leave but delighted to be handing over to someone with Len's skills and experience to take the charity forward."

Chairman of trustees, Chris Fulford, added: "We are eternally grateful to Charlie for his 10 years' dedicated service and wish him the best for his future.

"Welcome Len, and may you continue to expand our services to the disabled in North Devon."