Meet the trustees
- Sonya Benford
- Paul Cooper
- Marsali Craig
- David Denholm
- Esther Foreman
- Siobhan Gilmour
- Carolyn Heaney
- Adrian Howd
- John Litchfield - Vice Chairman
- John Miller
- Stuart Nixon
- Gideon Schulman
- Hilary Sears - Chairman
- Martin Stevens
Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee:
"I want to put my skills to use nationally and work towards a better Society.
I was diagnosed at 19, and since then my husband and I have been active members of the Society. I've put my experience as a College Governor into practice locally and got involved in editing the local branch newsletter.
I strongly believe that the Society and its members will benefit from a younger Trustee, and I'd love to inspire others to join me. Given that MS affects more young adults than ever before, it's vital that the voices of these members are heard and that young people are more proportionately represented at all levels of the Society."
"The MS Society allows me to put my professional skills to use helping people affected by MS. MS is very close to my heart, and I really appreciate the work the MS Society does to help people affected by MS.
I am a chartered accountant, chartered tax advisor and qualified treasurer. I have been working in the City for almost 20 years now. I suppose you would call me a Corporate Financier. I have been a partner in two large firms of chartered accountants and also a Director of two private equity funds.
This has given me lots of experience in working with senior management teams to help them finance and grow their businesses. My aim is to bring that experience to the MS Society and help it maximise what it can achieve for people affected by MS."
"The MS Society was the first place I turned to after being diagnosed myself with MS in 2002.
I have known about the MS Society since I left school at 16 and worked as a care assistant for the summer at a holiday home/respite care centre in Kent run by the Society. That was my first glimpse of what was worst – and best – about living with MS.
So I am very aware of what a difference the Society can make in people’s lives. It was the first place I turned to after being diagnosed myself with MS in 2002. I found the information on the website to be a godsend - objective but positive.
I volunteer now both as a local Aberdeen branch committee member and as a national Trustee. What I like about my role in Aberdeen is meeting all sorts of different people with very different sorts of MS. It makes my own MS seem much more “normal”.
I enjoy the opportunity to get involved at a national level, making decisions about how best to run the Society, and making sure good research is funded. It’s a great challenge to try and influence politicians and health boards to try to get the best possible deal for people affected by MS.
Sometimes this means travelling round the country to meet members and support the Society at events, or attending board meetings and getting involved in decision making, but sometimes it just involves keeping up to date with news on the website and checking my emails. No day is quite the same.”
“I have felt privileged to work with MS Society staff, fellow trustees and volunteers who share an unshakable belief in the difference they can help make for people affected by MS.
Our youngest son was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in December 2005, aged 25. His experiences – having to give up his teaching career and the daily challenges he faces of trying to follow his consultant’s advice to “Do your very best to get on with the rest of your life...” have helped shape my views about the key role the Society fulfils, and the part I can try to play in helping it achieve its goals.
Over the last 4 years as a trustee, I have had firsthand experience of some of the considerable challenges the Society has faced and successfully met. I have felt privileged to work with MS Society staff, fellow trustees and volunteers who share an unshakable belief in the difference they can help make for people affected by MS.
The role of trustee has its challenges – some inspiring and some not so! Nevertheless, working together on those challenges has proved to me the wisdom in the words of Margaret Mead, a distinguished anthropologist and scientist, "Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has."
"I was first diagnosed with MS 20 years ago as a very young teenager. Back then there wasn't a huge amount of support for people my age as it was seen as an "old person's disease".
Both myself and the MS Society have come a long way since then. The experience led me to develop a strong passion for and a career in social justice, welfare reform and human rights and I have seen the MS Society go from strength to strength - not only in research and support but also welding influence over national and local decision makers affecting people with MS.
I joined the Board, because now I believe it is more important than ever to have our collective voices heard. I want to help our community become stronger as well as do my bit to help all people affected by MS to live full and positive lives."
"I was diagnosed with MS when I was 21 years old. I contacted the MS Society really to try to find out 'what exactly was MS?'"
I telephoned the helpline and was delighted to experience such a sensitive, compassionate voice. I was so impressed by the MS Society I decided that I would love to learn more about the work of the Society and the rest, as they say, is history!
I joined the Research Network in 2002. I loved the work involved there, meeting so many different people with differing forms of the same condition.
The involvement of people are affected by MS is crucial to keeping the MS Society focused and accountable. I have first hand experience of MS but also have learned so much more since being involved with the Society. MS is as individual as we are. I believe the MS Society represents a dedicated charity which individuals can trust to provide evidence based information which is both reliable and up to date.
I love being a volunteer for the MS Society – especially meeting people who are affected in varying way by MS."
“As a Trustee I have worked with a diverse range of inspiring people living MS and making a difference in voluntary roles. I have strong personal commitment to a strong civil society in which individuals contribute whatever they have to offer for the benefit of others.
I have lived with MS since 2001. Over 20 years experience working at the Department of Health gave me a sound understanding of priorities within government, and strong insight into the challenges and opportunities they represent for organisations campaigning on behalf of people who use public services.
I have used this experience since 2008 to inform and contribute to the increasing success and transformation of our governance and strategy - establishing strong foundations for the Society to build on its past achievements and continue work for the increasing benefit of people living with MS.
It has been a fantastic experience to work as part of a strong Board of Trustees during a period of significant change and development for the Society – overseeing, to name but two significant achievements, effective transition to the new Charitable Company with a single constitution and transformational change in how the Society supports breaks for people with MS and their carers.”
"An interest in MS has driven much of my professional and academic career.
My PhD was in the area of MS-related Neuroscience, as were my post-doctoral studies.
After this I pursued a career in the financial services industry initially as an analyst looking at potential investments in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors. I have also had experience as a fund manager, focused on healthcare investments.
My current role brings me into daily contact with the companies and investors shaping ongoing MS drug development. I communicate the importance of MS drug therapies to a diverse range of people and am fortunate to regularly attend key MS meetings such as ECTRIMS and the AAN.
MS is a dcondition I am passionate about - I have seen the hardships it can present, and I believe I can make a positive and diverse contribution to the MS Society as a Trustee."
“I want to make sure the Society continues to provide vital support to everyone affected by MS.
My first contact with the Society was about a year after my wife, Linda, was diagnosed with MS. The local Branch was very supportive to Linda so shortly after her death I became a volunteer for the branch, ending up as Chair for six years. I decided to become a trustee so I could work to make sure the Society continues to provide vital support to everyone affected by MS.
My personal experience of MS, and over 40 years working in the private sector in marketing, PR, sales and relationship management, means I can bring a range of skills to help the Society achieve its aims.
My role as trustee means I work with the Board and Executive Group to formulate the strategy of the Society, and then make sure this strategy is delivered. I am on the Maidenhead Slough and District Branch Committee, and make as much time as I can to visit branch and regional meetings to keep in touch with the Society's volunteers.”
John is a member of the Finance and Audit sub-committee and a Director of MS Nominees Ltd.
John's daughter, Sophie, fell ill during her GCSE exams in 2007 and was eventually diagnosed with MS. The family knew little of the condition and started on a steep learning curve, with the help of MS Society publications and events.
John has been in public service for much of his life, serving in the Army for over 30 years and leaving, after a posting to Sierra Leone, to work as a director with a defence company.
He has a great deal of experience of operating within government organisations as well as chairing committees, which allows him to represent the MS Society to best effect.
John also has a special interest in the smaller but no less vital groups associated with the Society, particularly Mutual Support for those in the Armed Forces and branches near his home in Essex.
John loves sports; he is a great believer in exercise, where possible, to help mitigate the physical, mental and societal effects of MS before a cure can be found.
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"I firmly believe that a Trustee is an ambassador for the Society and MS community in general. I am committed to taking the voice of the Society and the MS Community forward in all situations.
I have lived with MS for 30 years; I have been volunteering for the MS Society for 15 years. As a nurse, and now NHS manager, I also bring to the Board a clear understanding of health and social care issues in England and Wales.
As our research commitment increases, I believe we must maintain and increase the quality and breadth of work supported. My involvement in and commitment to research will inform this through membership of the Research Strategy Committee.
The increased number of children/young adults with MS brings challenges to which the Society must respond; this, allied to the ever increasing number to ways we are all able to communicate, demands we find ways to speak to and for the whole MS community across genres. As I was diagnosed in my teens, have a long association with MS and am in regular contact with the MS community, I have a personal perspective in these debates."
"I love volunteering for the society because I believe it makes a real difference to lives of people affected by MS.
Professionally I have worked in human resources since 2000 and hold a BSc in Finance & IT and a MA in Human Resources.
In September 1998 I experienced my first MS relapse, it then wasn't until October 2001 that I was finally diagnosed. I made an conscious decision at that point that MS would not dictate my life.
I stood for the position of trustee in 2011 on the platform of wanting to see the Society as the global leader and driver of the MS agenda within awareness, support, research, information and as advocates. the Society is an immense organisation with amazing staff, dedicated volunteers, geographical scope and many areas of operation, turning over millions of pounds every year.
As a trustee you have obligations to the Society to act as guardians, including legal responsibilities, complying with the constitution and the motions passed at the AGMs. It also has the responsibility to drive the agenda, challenge the work of the staff and use my knowledge to inject new ideas. It also means that sometimes some very tough decisions have to be taken on behalf of the Society.
For me, two of the Societies priorities should be engaging with younger people (young at age and young at heart) with a national strategy and supporting people with work beyond the law."
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“I’m hugely excited about playing my part in helping support people affected by MS.
My father was diagnosed with MS in 1982, only to be told eight years later that he was in fact living with Olivopontocerebellar Atrophy, which can present similar symptoms to MS. I know how devastating his diagnosis and the progression of the disease were and how he benefited from being able to communicate with people with MS and those caring for them.
I’m a wife, stepmother and career business woman, with a first career in advertising and marketing. My second career was in executive search. I was a Vice President in two global firms and also ran my own.
In 2006 I was seconded into the Cabinet Office, working across departments, and exposed to policy making.
I have long championed diversity and am a member of ForumUK and Judge in the Women in the City Awards.
I have chaired three membership organisations: City Women’s Network, the IOD Central London Branch and the Association of MBAs. In 2008 I was appointed Chairman of KIDS, a national charity which works for disabled children and young people.
I am in my final year of a part-time MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change and am a keen skier, rugby supporter, and less keen golf novice!”
"It is an honour to be a part of the board and to work with them “to beat MS”.
I have had MS for 15 years which gives me a personal understanding of its unpredictability and the challenges we face daily. I joined the Society in 1995 shortly after diagnosis with MS following a very informative visit by the local branch’s support officer.
I volunteered for Macclesfield branch in 1996, and leading the team as Chairman, I was elected as a trustee in 2010. This experience working for and with people affected by MS gives me a deep understanding of our members’ needs, our branch network and an appreciation of MS on a far wider scale.
My background as a business analyst gives me a wide range of financial management and analytical skills to assist the board.
It’s an honour to be a part of the MS Society and to work with them “to beat MS”. The Society has great strength through the volunteers and the branch network. We are one Society united by a common aim; we are all accountable for the way we spend the money the Society raises and working together is one way of making better use of those funds."
Lillian Boyle - Chair of Audit and Risk Committee
"My involvement with MS started when my husband was diagnosed with primary progressive MS several years ago. I live in the Isle of Man and have been a committee member of the Isle of Man branch for the past few years. The experience of working as part of a local branch has provided me with an understanding of the value the MS Society brings at a local level as well as the importance of the research and campaigning done on a national basis.
I am currently the independent Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee and as such I am not a member of the Board of Trustees. I have a legal background and have spent the past 30 years in the finance sector, latterly as the MD of an international life assurance company. I now act as a non-executive board member for a number of organisations in different sectors and specialise in governance, risk and regulation."