England Council

Our council members in England are ambassadors and advocates for people affected by MS across the UK. They are responsible for the overall direction of the MS Society in England.

During 2014, the Council will meet on the following dates:

  • 14 August at MSNC
  • 22 October at MSNC

Meetings are open to members – you just need to register at least two weeks in advance by contacting englandcouncil@mssociety.org.uk or 020 8438 0757.

Annual meeting 2014 - presentations

Meet the council members


Debbie Alexander

“I was diagnosed with MS in 2006. I am passionate and enthusiastic, with an eye for detail, and fortunately employed by a supportive company. I have written tenders and won awards on behalf of my employer and feel that I am well placed to help the Society continue its essential work.

I regularly fundraise for MS charities and have spoken at MS Awareness Days. I am an active member of an online support group for women with MS. I believe the connections I have made with many people with MS help me understand the diversity of need and provide creative solutions to overcome barriers.”

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Joe Vick

Joe is from Cirencester and first became involved with the MS Society after his son was diagnosed with MS. Joe’s wife and others founded the Cirencester branch of the MS Society (which now includes Stroud and South Cotswolds) and Joe would like to use his experience of MS and his  professional capabilities to help the MS Society develop.

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Joan Collacott

“I’m really impressed by how ambitious the MS Society is in delivering a wide range of services and financial help to people affected by MS, both nationally and locally.

I had a long career in nursing and management, and I wanted volunteer for a charity that supports people with MS.

The Society’s strength lies in the fact that it’s led by hard working volunteers at all levels. It means it can reach out and support people with MS in the best way.”

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Simon Cox​

I have had MS for 30 years and my working life has been in the Construction Industry. My Volunteering for the Society started about 17 years ago only in a small way and then becoming a branch committee member, Vice Chair and then Chair.

From being Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber region I have taken a seat on the England Council. I am always working hard for PWMS to have a fulfilled and active life and wherever possible remove barriers and reinforce the work of the society. I enjoy my work as a volunteer as I feel part of a family that has to help each other and solve problems to make the most of life.

As an England council member I hope to help shape the future of how services are provided in England by the Society and Health and Social care. I feel an important role will be a conduit between members and branches views to the Council and Trustees.

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David Denholm

Looking forward, the Society faces many issues contained within our campaigns of “Fighting Back”: (emotional, social and work/career issues), and pushing for improvements in healthcare, independence and support as outlined in the “MS Manifesto.”

We have to fight back on behalf of different individuals and groups affected by MS across the English Regions – and those in the other Nations. The Council will play a key influencing role with members, volunteers and those affected by MS, as well as with trustees, MS Society staff and the Board. In addition, we have to be key opinion leaders both locally and nationally to help the Society address the health service inequalities that exist.

We cannot underestimate the challenges in the current economic climate. I want to use my experience and knowledge as a trustee of the Society and my business background to help us continue to “fight back”, move forward and secure the best possible future for those affected by MS.

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Cindy Fischer

“I wanted to be on the England Council because I have a friend who has MS and I welcome the opportunity to contribute to an organisation making a difference to the lives of people affected by MS.

I have a Master’s degree in Social Work and fourteen years’ experience in the charitable and public sectors. I have worked in hospices for 8.5 years and I hope my knowledge can influence the provision of locally based supportive care; from diagnosis through to end of life"

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Ian Howells

Having served as Lead Support Volunteer for the Thanet branch I have gained valuable insights into the needs of people affected by MS.

My inspiration for doing this came from the difficulties I had experienced in obtaining advice and getting home adaptations completed. I care for my wife who has SPMS. We have lived with MS for 22 years and progressively adapted our lives and our home to meet her needs.

For me this ultimately meant giving up work to be a carer. I bring to the England Council personal experience of dealing with these challenges and a background in strategic management that I hope will prove useful. One of the big challenges for the Society is to be relevant for everyone affected by MS.

This is not easy against a backdrop of healthcare reform, financial austerity and increased social diversity. I hope my skills as a continuous improvement specialist can be used to accelerate the Society’s progress towards achieving its strategic aims.


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Ken Johnson

“My step father has MS, so I joined the MS Society to make a difference to people with MS. I began as a Branch Chair, moved to Regional Chair in 2007, finally becoming a member of the National Council for England in 2011.

I have found involvement in the Society extremely rewarding, and have made many valued and respected friends across the country. I am continually impressed by the talent and ingenuity shown by people affected by MS who are helping to change public attitudes towards MS.

Our challenge ahead is to make the National Council for England a respected and effective part of the MS Society’s organisation. We need to translate the MS Society strategy into effective action and benefits felt by people affected by MS across England.”

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John Josephs

Shortly after my eldest son was diagnosed with MS, I joined the North of England regional committee, editing the Newsletter for six years and raising substantial amounts of money towards its cost. I served as Treasurer for four of those years. My personal experience and work on the committee have given me a deep understanding of the impact of MS on people’s lives.

My background as a Chartered Accountant, with thirty years experience in broadcasting, has given me a unique skill base to help design successful strategies and communicate them effectively, and is very relevant to the issues facing the MS Society today. I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve on the England Council.

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Jim McGown

“My daughter was diagnosed with MS in 2001, following her first ‘episode’ in 1999. Having followed her progress in coping with the condition, I joined the MS Society to help others and became a volunteer with the Kettering Branch, assisting with fundraising and publicity.

I am confident that my experience in project management, sales and marketing, financial services, and running my own recruitment business, has equipped me with the skills to add value to the role of England Council member.”

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Sarah Schol​

“My mother bravely battled MS for over 25 years until she sadly passed away in 2010. Having seen and lived with the effects of this destructive condition, I am passionate about finding a cure.

Through my work as a senior HR professional, I have extensive experience in working with diverse teams to create and lead business strategy and implement large projects. I will listen to members and those affected by MS, bringing an unbiased view and the ability to think creatively and practically to generate the interest and revenue required to deliver the right solutions with the greatest return on investment.”

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Rosemary Tocock

“I enjoy volunteering as I wanted to give something back for the help and support the Society gave my husband and I when we needed it.”

“I became involved in the Society more than 30 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with MS. The local Branch and the Society was most supportive. Since his death eleven years ago, I have become more involved both at Branch and Region level.

My role as a local Branch chair has enabled me to help people affected by MS live a better life - people with MS still want to live life to its fullest. Being involved at the “coal face” has given me a good understanding of the effects and consequences of MS which I am confident will help my role on the England Council.

 I also have made some great lifelong friends.

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Dave White

I am pleased to be given the opportunity to serve as a member of the Society’s England Council, representing Cheshire and Merseyside. When I took early retirement in 1999 a friend who has MS and was a branch member said, “Now that you have plenty of time how about being a volunteer driver?” and so my volunteering began.

As a former branch chair, and regional volunteer who was involved with the implementation of the risk management system, I am aware of the need for two way communication between the Society’s central organisation and its branches. I will endeavour to ensure that this is nurtured in order to promote the best outcomes for those affected by MS.

I look forward to being involved in the Society’s vision for the future.

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Nikki Young

“I have worked as a social worker/manager in children’s services for 17 years with my diagnosis of secondary progressive MS with me all the way.

Life lived in a power chair has helped me see the world around people with MS in so many different ways, and experience the ups and down of MS at high speed and a sense of humour.

I have always fought hard to stay working, to stay involved and to contribute to the loud voice for MS. As a politics graduate, campaigning for disability equality means everything to me and to MS friends. I have been a volunteer for twenty years or more with a number of organisations.”

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Page last updated: 06 Nov 2014

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