The Devizes-based Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, which is responsible for much of the waterway’s 87 miles of historic buildings and artefacts, has appointed a new chairman to take over at the end of the year.

Rob Dean, who is an existing trustee, has been chosen by the council to take over from Dr Mike Rodd from January 1.

Mr Dean has been actively involved with the KACT for more than five years, first as treasurer then chairman of the Newbury branch of the KACT, and he has successfully directed the annual Newbury Waterways Festival.

With 35 years’ experience in the diplomatic service, Mr Dean, who was created a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2012 New Year’s honours list, was chosen to succeed Dr Rodd due to his wide-ranging skills, drive and capacity to lead the organisation into the future.

He said: “I am extremely honoured to be asked to chair the KACT trustee council and I am looking forward to building on the excellent work of Dr Rodd to ensure that the trust continues to protect, enhance and promote the Kennet and Avon during these difficult economic times.”

Dr Rodd re-organised much of the KACT’s infrastructure to enable it to be run more efficiently after his appointment as general manager in 2009. That goal was reached in 2011, when the organisation came under the management of a full-time administrator in conjunction with trustees, rather than a salaried executive.

Dr Rodd subsequently become chairman of the trust council, and guided the organisation’s engagement with Defra over the latter’s intention to move British Waterways into the charitable sector by creating the Canal and River Trust.

Dr Rodd said: “I feel this is an appropriate point at which to hand over the leadership of the KACT. I know that Rob, with his passion for, and commitment to, the Kennet and Avon will do an excellent job, and will bring a number of exciting ideas to the organisation.”

Dr Rodd is to concentrate on leading innovative fundraising activities and public awareness initiatives for the KACT in conjunction with the organisation’s president, David Bruce.

He will also continue his long-standing commitment as boatmaster, running frequent trips for the KACT.