Venus takes the reins as new chief executive at Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society

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A Northumberland attraction and educational charity has welcomed a new chief executive.

Leigh Venus, who has extensive experience in the culture and heritage sector, has joined Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society (KOAS) as its new CEO.

Leigh said: “I’ve loved Kielder Observatory since I first set foot there, so this is a dream come true.

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"The organisation delivers a powerful social good anchored by unique visitor experiences and public outreach, and I’m excited to be part of that.

Leigh Venus, the new CEO at Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society.Leigh Venus, the new CEO at Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society.
Leigh Venus, the new CEO at Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society.

"I can’t help but notice my name fits the bill too!”

Kielder Observatory delivers a wide range of public events, projects, and educational outreach, and since opening in 2008 has welcomed tens of thousands of people to learn about and be inspired by the night sky.

Leigh said: “I’m inheriting a wonderful team, so I’m looking forward to building on the extraordinary work accomplished so far, inspiring people to understand their place in the universe and viscerally feel the preciousness of the tiny world we call home, a perspective more important than ever in the face of climate crisis and global turmoil. We’ll continue ensuring that everyone who encounters Kielder Observatory leaves us with not just a fleeting joy but a permanent wonder.”

Leigh was previously heritage development manager for the RNLI.

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He was also Chair of contemporary dance company Fertile Ground until 2023.

Outgoing chief executive, Catherine Johns, who has joined Dance City as executive director, said: “I’m extremely proud of the success we have achieved in the last few years: transforming the organisation, coming out of the pandemic stronger than ever, and redoubling our commitment to sharing the wonder of the Kielder moment of inspiration to even more communities across the North East and beyond.

"It’s been a privilege to lead this team of talented, amazing people. I wish Leigh every success in, what is, the role of a lifetime.”

Peter Standfield, KOAS Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: "We’re delighted to welcome Leigh to Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society. His arrival marks a promising new chapter as we aim to bring the unique 'Kielder moment' to an even more diverse audience.

"We also reiterate our gratitude to Catherine for her remarkable contributions and wish her the very best in her future endeavours."

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