THE new CEO of a Christchurch-based autism support charity says it is a "privilege" to take on the role as the body enters a "new and exciting era".

Autism Wessex, which celebrates its 50th anniversary year in 2018, have appointed Siún Cranny as their CEO.

Her appointment follows a year of transition for the charity after the departure of longstanding CEO Bob Lowndes.

The charity said it is grateful for his invaluable contributions to Autisum Wessex during his 21-year tenure.

Born in Ireland, Ms Cranny comes to the charity with a wealth of experience in the not-for-profit and public sectors having led Sargent Cancer Care for Children and a national mental health charity in Ireland.

More recently she has been working with teams across the UK for RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) to deliver change strategy.

“I have come on board at an exciting time as we anticipate the celebration of our 50th anniversary year," Ms Cranny said.

"I am really looking forward to working with such a talented and inspirational team to achieve continued growth.

"My emphasis will be in how we better support our customers - those children and adults with Autism and their families, throughout the Wessex region.

"It is a privilege to lead the next chapter of success for Autism Wessex and I would like to thank the team for such a warm welcome.”

Mary Claire Boyd, chair of trustees, said: “We are all delighted to be welcoming Siún as our new Chief Executive. The Charity has undergone a significant period of transition and Siún’s arrival has already proven a positive step forward in a new and exciting era. We look forward to Siun’s fresh approach to take the charity forward.”