Recruiting a CEO to lead through challenges ahead

East Anglia Children's Hospice (EACH) 2019East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) offer care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and support families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. They offer families flexibility and control over where they receive their care and support - at home, in hospital or at one of three hospices at Milton (Cambridge), The Nook (Norfolk) and The Treehouse (Ipswich).

More than 1080 children, young people and families relied on EACH in the last year. They delivered 7700 sessions of wellbeing activity and 55 families received end of life care in the last year.

EACH has developed a loyal band of volunteer supporters and the dedicated fundraising team have worked hard to ensure that the Charity is well regarded by the local community. High profile Patrons such as HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and Ed Sheeran have also served to keep the spotlight on this local hospice charity. 


Due to the previous CEO’s retirement after 15 years in post, Lynn Walters and David Culley of Pure Executive were approached to support EACH to recruit their next CEO.

Having previously recruited three Board members, and members of their teams, our close relationship, long-standing knowledge and understanding of the Management team dynamics, reassured them that they were in safe hands helping them to find their next CEO.

The challenge was to find a high calibre person within a salary package that was appropriate for a charitable organisation.  They needed an experienced CEO who could manage ambitious plans for growth and ensure the successful mobilisation of their brand new hospice, The Nook. The next CEO would lead the next phase of their growth and take the organisation through the challenges ahead.

John Pickering, Chair of EACH said:

“We needed Pure to find us a new CEO nothing more nothing less but a big responsibility on us as a board and on Pure because we were replacing a long-serving CEO and were very conscious of our responsibilities in setting the direction of EACH for the next 5-10 years.”


As the leader of an organisation that employs 300+ people (and a further 1,500 volunteers) the next CEO needed to inspire, ensuring one common culture and a series of values that everyone feels part of. With the Duchess of Cambridge as Patron, the next CEO would need to hold credibility in chairing large, high profile events and be an exceptional public speaker.  

Above all, EACH needed a business leader who could create and maintain a sustainable business model, capable of adapting to the ever-changing political and economic landscape.  They needed to enable EACH to thrive and not merely survive.

Having prepared an outline proposal, Lynn Walters and David Culley met with the appointments committee to discuss the proposal further and fully understand the brief. Timescales were agreed and a full job description was created for their review.  

With a dedicated microsite, extensive advertising, networking and targeted search within the UK Hospice sectors, Pure Executive were able to identify a strong pool of candidates. The role was promoted on the Hospice UK and NHS websites to ensure we reached as large an audience as possible and the final shortlist comprised a range of Charity, Commercial and healthcare professionals.

Recruitment doesn’t always go to plan and this search was no exception. The initial short-list delivered a strong pool of candidates. Three were selected for the final stage interview but due to unprecedented circumstances, two of the three had to pull out at the eleventh hour. So we went back to the drawing board and started the search again. 

The second shortlist included a broad range of new strong candidates and they completed a 2 staged interview process that EACH and Pure co-designed. Following a detailed wash-up meeting via Zoom due to the pandemic, EACH successfully appointed their next CEO.   

Due to the current pandemic and a long notice period, the start date of the new CEO has been delayed. But this has not stopped him from getting involved in critical business decisions and operations, actively engaging with the organisation, volunteering his time where possible and attending (Trustee) meetings throughout this period. 

How pure executive made a difference

At Pure, we strive to help businesses and their people to thrive and flourish. When asked about the service EACH received from Pure Executive, John Pickering said:

“To feel valued as an important client evidenced by responsiveness and the personal attention of the key individuals working on our project. We felt well looked after and communication was always excellent.”

“Pure Executive set us up with a team of two - David Culley and Lynn Walters and because it was a small team they were always very well briefed on where we were in the process. I have never worked with an agency in the charity sector before but for me, their patience with a pretty disparate board of trustees and their excellent communication skills could not be faulted.”

“It felt to me that although they were coming in from outside they felt very much part of our team and would sit around the table with us to set up the process - that is very comforting when a big decision is required.”

Reflecting on their experience the candidate said:

“I found the experience of working with David Culley and his team during my application for CEO extremely helpful and professional. It was clear that David entirely understood the brief from his clients and had researched the challenges the new incumbent would encounter. He helped me work through my own motivations and skill sets so that I could make informed decisions as the recruitment process progressed. The issue of “fit” is critical in executive appointments and as a candidate, I was confident that my offer was relevant to the organisation. Throughout the process, David provided constant feedback after each element ensuring that I was engaged and motivated to continue. I will certainly be using David to help support me in future. I would recommend Pure Executive to other organisations looking to identify and recruit senior talent.”

To find out how we can help with your Executive recruitment and succession planning contact Lynn Walters or Jodie Woodrow at Pure Executive.

 Judith Pugh profile picture

Written by

Judith Pugh

Judith joined Pure in 2017 and is responsible for marketing the business, building our marketing strategy and delivering campaigns. Judith’s worked in marketing for more than 20 years across a range of industries – from health and fitness, horticulture, GIS software, education and now recruitment.

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