Editorial: Harris' passion makes her a tough act to follow

Wanted: someone with the hide of a rhino and an unquenchable enthusiasm.

Someone who won't be cowed by rejection and setbacks. Someone with a passionate belief in their cause and the power to enthuse others. Apply: Nabs.

Kate Harris possessed all these qualities in spades and her decision to quit as the chief executive of the industry charity after five years leaves a void that will be hard to fill. With a combination of great charm, bubbly personality and relentless evangelism, Harris was always hard to refuse, whether seeking industry heavy-hitters to serve on a Nabs committee or rattling the collecting box.

It will take a special person to replace her. Not least because of the tough climate in which Nabs now operates. At a time when even the biggest charities find it hard to prise money from a public deluged with appeals to cough up for good causes, it is doubly hard for niche operations such as Nabs. Despite the financial and practical help Nabs offers to more than 3,000 people every year, it becomes hard to sustain its case when the natural inclination of many in the industry has been to dig deep into their pockets to help ameliorate the terrible suffering of the thousands caught up in the Asian tsunami.

The problem for Nabs is that it has always attracted praise and cynicism in equal measure. Not only does it have to work continually to dispel the myth that it raises cash for people already well able to look after themselves, but also to make its voice heard amid the more emotive appeals of other charities.

Yet need is need, wherever it occurs. The job of Nabs is to help adland's unfortunates. That's what it was set up to do and it does it very well.

Nobody at last week's Big Bash can have failed to be moved by its new commercial, in which some of the industry's most famous names are cast as victims. Nor should they need to question Nabs' raison d'etre.

Whoever takes over from Harris in spearheading Nabs' efforts to raise the £1.5 million a year it needs to operate effectively, faces a daunting task. Not least in ensuring the charity for so long synonymous with the creative community can keep the media owners who provide its financial backbone on board.