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Obituary: Nila James


Nila James, Director of Fundraising at Magic Bus UK, has died aged 55 after suffering a brain haemorrhage while doing a parkrun.

She had worked as a fundraiser since 1997 when she started as an Area Fundraising Manager with RNIB. She subsequently worked for Cancer Research UK, and Sense where she spent six years.

She was particularly interested in animal welfare and worked for two animal charities in succession. After the British Veterinary Association she moved to the Animal Health Trust, where she was Head of High Value Partnerships. As well as working with major donors she also worked with fundraising committees on special events such as the Newmarket Charity Race Day, London Equestrian Awards and various royal patron events.

Amid the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 she became Director of Fundraising at Calibre Audio, “the only national charity in the UK to provide a totally free audiobook service to anyone with a print disability”.

As Director of Fundraising she lead a team of four to raise £1.3 million, including helping to secure £92,000 grant from the Julia and Hans Rausing Covid Resilience Fund. Under her leadership the annual appeal raised £121,000, the highest amount raised to date.

As well as securing a strategic partnership “with one of the largest publishers in the world” she also helped secure the charity’s “first A-list patron”, Dame Judy Dench.

Together with work on overhauling the charity’s CRM she created and implemented the charity’s EDI strategy.

She had been at Magic Bus UK for just seven months. She had also just completed the first year of a Masters Degree in Voluntary Sector Management at Bayes Business School.

Nila’s husband Matt said that they had together for 22 years. In announcing her death online he described her as “my beautiful Nila, doting mother to our two beautiful daughters”.

He said:

“Nila devoted her career to making life better for others and was one year into a Masters Degree for leaders in fundraising. I’ve no doubt Nila would have made great use of this qualification and cemented her glittering career at the highest level.”

Matt has launched a fundraising appeal in Nila’s memory on JustGiving to support WWF, which was Nila’s favourite charity. The £1,000 target has been surpassed and the total now stands at over £9,000.

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