THE South West Heritage Trust has appointed a new chief executive.

Sam Astill takes over from Tom Mayberry, who is retiring after 43 years working South West heritage and has been CEO of the trust since its creation in 2014.

Sam, presently head of museums at the trust, takes up his post in the New Year.

He said: “The trust is already a leading heritage organisation in the region working with many local and national partners.

"Developing our work with communities can improve life chances, build prosperity and create a better future for people in the South West.

"I look forward to developing an organisation that plays a vital role in the daily lives of people and communities.”

Tom said: “It has been a great privilege to establish and lead the trust over the last 10 years.

"We’ve delivered some tremendous projects and I have been fortunate to work with some wonderful colleagues.

"I know that Sam will continue to take the trust forward and to make our remarkable heritage accessible to many more people.”

The South West Heritage Trust runs heritage services in Somerset and Devon, including museums, archives and the historic environment.

Its sites include the Museum of Somerset, Somerset Rural Life Museum and the recently-opened Avalon Archaeology.

The trust cares for archive collections at its heritage centres in Taunton, Exeter and Barnstaple.

It also provides advice about the historic environment and is responsible for more than 400 acres of historic landscapes.

It works in close partnership with Somerset Council and Devon County Council, its principal funders, and organisations such as Arts Council England and Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.

Mike Motum, chairman of the trustees said: “Our thanks must first go to Tom for his exceptional leadership and management since the trust was established.

"He is enormously respected, and his knowledge of local heritage is unsurpassed.

"There are many challenges and opportunities ahead and we look forward to working with Sam and the whole team to ensure that the trust remains resilient and relevant.”