A major North East attraction and educational charity has appointed a new CEO.

Leigh Venus comes into his new role at Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society (KOAS) with an extensive background in the culture and heritage sector.

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

"The organisation delivers a powerful social good anchored by unique visitor experiences and public outreach.

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

Located in Northumberland, Kielder Observatory is a public astronomical facility nestled under the largest area of protected night sky in Europe.

Set in the largest man-made forest in Western Europe, and near Kielder Water, the observatory has provided public events, projects, and educational outreach, drawing tens of thousands of people to learn about the night sky since 2008.

Mr Venus said: "I’m inheriting a wonderful team, so I’m looking forward to building on the extraordinary work accomplished so far.

"We’ll continue ensuring that everyone who encounters Kielder Observatory leaves us with not just a fleeting joy but a permanent wonder."

Mr Venus' sector leadership stretches back to 2009 when he served as heritage development manager for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

He was also responsible for reviving and developing Jarrow Hall museum and heritage site and directing operations at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema during a period of success and redevelopment.

Until 2023, Mr Venus chaired the contemporary dance company Fertile Ground and he currently serves as a trustee of London’s Vagina Museum.

Catherine Johns, outgoing CEO of KOAS, 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.

"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, added: "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."