Alistair Burtenshaw, who stepped down from his post as London Book Fair director earlier this month, is to take over as chair of book charity Booktrust.
Burtenshaw, who takes on the role today (26th September) said he wanted publishers to join Booktrust's calls for the government to protect funding for the charity's bookgifting programmes.
He said: "I'm delighted to chair Booktrust at such a crucial juncture in its history. It’s a dynamic organisation that does wonderful work—thanks in large part to the fantastic support of the UK publishing community. I want to thank publishers for everything they’ve done for us . . .
"Support from Government has been vital in maximising the impact of our partnerships with publishers enabling us to give over 5 million books last year.
"However, that funding—already 50% down from 2010—will come to an end in under six months' time, leaving these much valued programmes under threat. Together with c.e.o., Viv Bird, I want to lobby hard to protect that funding. I urge all our friends in publishing to add their voice to ours in encouraging the Secretary of State for Education to reconfirm the government's financial commitment to these vital and valued bookgifting programmes."
Booktrust received a 50% funding cut from the Department for Education in 2011. Earlier this year, it replaced its free book-gifting scheme for schoolchildren Booked Up with paid-for programme Bookbuzz. The current government funding for its baby book scheme Bookstart runs until the end of March 2013.
Bird added: "Alistair is a staunch advocate of building strong relationships with publishers who have been crucial to the success of Booktrust in recent years. While we wait to hear the Government’s intentions on future funding, I would like to join Alistair in thanking all those in publishing who have continued to support our work through challenging times."
Burtenshaw left his role as director of books and publishing for Reed Exhibitions—including as director of The London Book Fair—after ten years earlier this month. He was elected a trustee of Booktrust in December 2006 and deputy chair in December 2008.