Caroline White, chief executive YHA England and Wales. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Caroline White, chief executive YHA England and Wales. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The boss who has overseen the transformation of a youth hostel charity has announced she will step down.

Caroline White, chief executive of YHA (England and Wales) will leave the post in June next year.

The organisation said she was appointed to lead the charity in 2008 with the specific aim of modernising and transforming YHA into a world class organisation.

The controversial policy of closing many hostels continued under Ms White’s leadership, but she oversaw a period of renewal with buildings modernised and seven new hostels opened. More than £56m has been invested in the YHA network during her time in charge, and the organisation has re-emphasised its value to young people.

Nearly half a million young people stayed with YHA last year on educational trips, summer camps, with their families or as independent travellers.

During her time as chief executive, YHA’s occupancy levels have increased from 48 per cent to 60 per cent and guest satisfaction scores have risen from an average of 82 per cent to 91 per cent throughout the network.

YHA said operational changes throughout England and Wales have ensured financial sustainability for the charity. YHA is now in a strong financial and sustainable position for the future, it added.

Peter Gaines, YHA chairman of the board of trustees said: “As chief executive, Caroline has transformed YHA from an outdated, loss-making organisation into a vibrant and forward-looking charity with a clear direction and renewed focus on young people.

“She leaves a highly motivated group of staff and volunteers driven by a united ambition to unlock the full potential of YHA for future generations. We owe her an enormous debt of gratitude.”

Ms White said: “I have absolutely loved the last nine years at YHA but the time is now right for me personally to pass the baton on to my successor to deliver our new flagship sites: The Sill national landscape discovery centre at Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland and YHA London Stratford, and to further realise the potential in YHA.

“I am immensely proud of the passion and commitment of all our people and all they do to create opportunities for so many young people. YHA has a very bright future and I look forward to seeing its continuing success.”

Caroline White is currently a board member of the Outdoor Industries Association, the trade body for outdoor companies and bodies. She was previously chief executive of Soho Housing Association and English Churches Housing group.

She has held a number of non-executive roles including trustee of Centrepoint and chair of her local Primary Care Trust and was an adviser to the School of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of Surrey.

She will continue in her post at YHA (England and Wales) until June 2017.

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