Shirley Scott obituary

Other lives: Leading light in the field of charity management

My wife, Shirley Scott, who has died from cancer aged 68, committed her life to the management of charities. As Official Custodian for Charities and then as chief executive of the Charity Finance Directors’ Group (CFDG) she played key roles in shaping the financial management structures of modern organisations.

Shirley was born in Bedford to Kenneth, a civil servant who had been a radio operator during the second world war, and Mary Mould (nee Holmes), who had worked as a typesetter before marrying. When Shirley was young the family moved to Sidcup, where Shirley was educated at Chislehurst and Sidcup girls’ high school. She left at the age of 16 to do a course in remedial gymnastics but this proved dissatisfying and a holiday job at the Charity Commission led to a change of direction and new career.

By 1988 she had risen to the senior ranks of the commission and had been involved in its introduction of IT. She was appointed Official Custodian, managing £1.25bn of investments for 40,000 charities. The Woodfield Report which came out in the same year had recommended sweeping changes to the commission and Shirley then took on responsibility under the 1991 Charities Act of divesting those funds to the charities that owned them.

Following divestment, she was persuaded to apply for the role as the first chief executive of CFDG, which she started in 1994. She ensured that it became expert on charity finance, consulted by the sector and government. She supported the introduction of new accounting standards in 1995, 2000 and 2005. Under her leadership the membership grew from 280 to over 1,000 and the staff from two to 10.

After 11 years Shirley decided to reduce her workload and she took on roles helping smaller charities with governance. Her final staff role was as clerk to the Richard Reeve’s Foundation, a longstanding charity providing educational support to residents of the City of London and Camden. She stood down in 2014 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Wildlife, particularly birding, dominated her social life, along with a love of cricket and rugby. She volunteered for 15 years at Birdfair and was a trustee of Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Shepperton local history society. Shirley made friends wherever she went.

She is survived by me, and many nephews, nieces and cousins.

Nigel Scott

The GuardianTramp

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