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We have more than 1,000 staff, 1,092 volunteers and more than 20,000 members who support our work across the UK. We are led by our Executive Group, Board of Trustees, President and seven Vice Presidents who bring with them decades of experience from both the charity and commercial sectors.
Below, our Executive Group and Trustees explain their histories, and why they joined Action on Hearing Loss.
Our Executive Group
Paul Breckell - Chief Executive
Paul became Chief Executive in August 2012 having worked for the charity since July 2007.
“I feel very passionate about our work and this commitment comes both from my experiences of working with service users, staff and supporters at Action on Hearing Loss as well as having family experience of hearing loss and its impact on day to day living.”
Paul has spent most of his career in the voluntary sector having previously worked for Church Mission Society and for the HIV/AIDS healthcare charity Mildmay. He is also an active volunteer as a charity trustee and as a youth and children’s worker.
Kate Bull - Executive Director Commercial Services
Kate Bull was appointed as Executive Director of Commercial Services to tenaciously drive forward the charity’s sales opportunities and increase income to invest in supporting people who are deaf or have hearing loss or tinnitus.
Kate joins the charity from The People’s Supermarket, the unique community co-operative she founded in June 2010 and served as Chief Executive until September 2012. Kate previously worked in senior management for Marks & Spencer.
Kate, who is aiming to increase the profitability of the charity’s products, training and consultancy services, said: “I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to support businesses who want to extend their customer reach and provide greater access for their customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“I’m keen to ensure that Action on Hearing Loss expands our exciting range of products available through our catalogue and online shop, and reach out to new markets to become the first port of call for all businesses looking to meet their legal accessibility requirements.”
Louise Pritchard - Executive Director, Services
Louise joined RNID, now Action on Hearing Loss from the NHS where she was Director of Performance and Organisational Development at NHS Birmingham East and North. She has more than 23 years of senior level experience in the public sector. She has worked in London, Walsall and Birmingham, mostly in the commissioning and delivery of primary, mental health and community health services.
She holds a degree and Masters in Social Policy and Primary Health Care Policy and Management. Previous roles as Managing Director of Community Health Services have delivered service redesign within the social care, voluntary and hospital sectors.
“I am privileged and excited by the opportunity to work with exceptional people, delivering new and improved services that will make a real difference to people’s lives. I am determined that the invisible silence of millions is converted into a visible presence, connecting individuals at all levels, enabling us all to lead the lives we choose and to have our world enriched through the power of communication.”
Peter Robson - Executive Director, Corporate Resources
Peter joined RNID, now Action on Hearing Loss, having spent a number of years in finance management in the private sector both in the UK and Europe, from large multi-national organisations to smaller owner managed businesses.
"I was keen to move into the voluntary sector and was inspired by the wide and diverse portfolio of activities that Action on hearing Loss delivers. I am driven by the positive change we are able to bring to people’s lives.
"I am motivated by the passion and devotion of our staff and volunteers in improving the lives of the people we are here to serve. To maximise the impact we are able to make, we need effective support structures and I am delighted to be working with a great team of dedicated people focused on delivering first class services.
"Away from the office I am also involved in my local community near Bath and am a Governor of a local Academy helping to support the school in enabling the children to achieve the best of their ability and having a keen interest in sports, I am also treasurer of a local youth football club."
Sohaila Rastan - Executive Director, Biomedical Research
Dr Rastan, a specialist in biotechnology and genetics, has had a rich and varied career with a background in both the voluntary and private sectors. This includes working for the Wellcome Trust, MRC Clinical Research Centre, SmithKline Beecham and MacMillan Cancer Support. She has served on many scientific committees, including the UK Government Gene Therapy Advisory Committee and the Board of the National Cancer Research Institute.
Sohaila has noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus from a misspent youth listening to heavy metal bands.
Our President, Vice Presidents, and Patron
The Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP
Sir Rocco Forte
The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT
HRH The Countess of Wessex
Our Board of Trustees
Gerald Corbett – Chairman
Gerald Corbett became Chairman of RNID in 2007.
After studying history at Cambridge University, where he was a foundation scholar, he went to London and Harvard business schools and in the mid-1970s joined Boston Consulting Group, which advises on corporate strategy.
In 1982 he joined electrical retailer Dixons, where he became Group Financial Controller and Corporate Finance Director. Since then, he has been a director of 10 public companies and Chairman of four - including Woolworths and Britvic. He was Chief Executive of Railtrack from 1997 to 2006.
Stephen Hill - Treasurer
Stephen became a Trustee late in 2008.
After studying Economics and Law at Cambridge, Stephen began working with BCG, Guinness and Pearson. He spent six years running the Financial Times Group and in 2003 became CEO of the internet start-up Betfair; now one of the world's largest internet companies.
Since 2006 he has run his own investment and property development companies, and been a senior adviser to a private equity fund. He currently serves on the board of Channel4 and on the Advisory Board of the Judge Business School in the University of Cambridge.
Professor Norman Black
Norman received a BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and a PhD from Queen's University, Belfast in 1980 and 1984 respectively. He worked for BT for 14 years before joining the University of Ulster in 1985 as Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, becoming Professor of Digital Communications in 1995.
He was Director of the NI Bioengineering Centre from 1994 to 1999 when he became Head of Medical Informatics at the University of Ulster. He was appointed Dean of Informatics in 2000 and Dean of Engineering in 2004 and he took up the role of Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) in 2008.
Norman has extensive research experience having been President of the European Society for Engineering & Medicine and a founder Member of the Institute of Telemedicine. He is Chair of Innovation Ulster Ltd, and a Board member of UK Healthcare Education Partnership Ltd.
Sir Rodney Brooke
Sir Rodney has a long experience in local government, including as Chief Executive of West Yorkshire County Council, Westminster City Council and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.
He chaired the General Social Care Council for seven years until November 2008; chaired the Bradford Health Authority and served as a non-executive director of a Primary Care Trust and a Community Trust, and on the Council of University College Hospital, London. He also chaired the London Grants Review Board (2004-05) and the Commission on Governance in the Third Sector (2008).
Sir Rodney is currently a member of the General Medical Council and the National Information Governance Board for Health and Social Care Records; and a director of the Internet Watch Foundation, Capacitybuilders (the Government agency designated to strengthen the capacity of the third sector) and the Tavistock Institute.
Win has a wide experience within Public Services in Wales, especially in Parliamentary/Political Affairs and the Third Sector in Wales.
He has always had an interest in issues concerning people with disabilities. As a Minister in the Welsh Office (1997-1998) he had a wide portfolio including health, disabilities, children and local government. He had close contacts with RNID as Minister and since retirement with representatives of people with hearing loss in his role as Chair of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and its predecessors since 2005.
Professor Matthew Holley
Matthew is Professor of Sensory Physiology and Head of the Department of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield. Over the past 20 years his research has focussed on the inner ear.
He has also served on research funding panels for The Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, RNID and Deafness Research UK and chaired our Medical Advisory Panel for two years to June 2007. Matthew has tinnitus and mild hearing loss.
Sir Peter Job
After graduating at Exeter College, Oxford, Sir Peter joined Reuters as Sub-editor and Correspondent in 1963. After a series of posts within Reuters, he became Director of Reuters Holdings in 1989 and was Chief Executive Officer of Reuters Group from 1991-2001, when he retired after 38 years with the company. During this time he also held a number of non-executive directorships in various companies including Diageo plc, GlaxoSmithkline plc, Schroders plc and Royal Dutch Shell, and served on audit, remuneration and nominating committees.
Conor was elected at our AGM on 10 November 2012.
At 23, Conor is our youngest trustee. He is an audiologist working in NHS clinics around North London. As such he encounters hearing loss on a daily basis and strives to raise awareness of sensory impairment.
Conor has been studying science and the social effects of hearing loss for six years, and he is looking forward to contributing as we strive to support hard of hearing people.
Harry achieved a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacy from Heriot-Watt University in 1988 and registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) in 1989. He completed a post graduate diploma in clinical pharmacy (community) at Queens University Belfast October 2002.
From 1988 to 2003 Harry undertook a variety of roles at regional and local level for Boots the Chemists Ltd. During this time he became interested in pharmacy politics and actively participated as a member and chair of Health Board committees and as a member of the RPSGB Scottish Executive.
In November 2003 he was appointed to the role of National Pharmacy Advisor to NHS 24 where he worked closely with the Scottish Executive Health Department (SEHD).
Harry was subsequently appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Pharmaceutical General Council, now Community Pharmacy Scotland, in July of 2006 and has completed the ‘Delivering the Future’ NHS Clinical Leadership programme during 2005/06.
Janine graduated from Manchester University with a BA Hons degree in French Studies.
After attending Manchester University, she trained at the Royal Northern College of Music, the Paris Conservatoire and the National Opera Studio and, despite being told that she could never be a singer because of her progressive deafness, Janine has enjoyed a career as a professional operatic soloist spanning 25 years.
For the past two years, she has been involved with 'Music and the Deaf', 'Sing Up' and Classic FM's Hear Here! workshops, 'Deafness – No Bar to Music'.
For many years, Janine has campaigned on behalf of RNID for their telephone hearing check, reducing the stigma of deafness and lowering waiting times for hearing aids.
Ashley de Safrin
Ashley has a strong business background with many years working in sales and marketing in the hospitality and tourism industries. He has been advising businesses since 1990, especially small and medium sized businesses, and has been working for Business Link in London since 2000 as a Business Adviser advising London restaurants and hotels. He also holds an MBA from Cranfield.
Ashley can offer RNID expertise especially in planning, marketing and communication. He also believes businesses need to be able to address the needs of their staff who are deaf or hard of hearing in a sympathetic way and that, with the right support, hearing loss need not be an obstacle for people in work.
Diane works as a personality profiler, handwriting analyst and lecturer. She has published three books and many articles and is a Fellow of the RSA and Member of the British Science Association. She has an ongoing interest in communication. Diane wears two hearing aids.
Liz is Director of Fundraising at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and has recently joined Action on Hearing Loss as a trustee.
Liz has thirteen years experience in Fundraising, having started her career in the sector at Plan and Sense. In 2004 Liz joined the British Red Cross and whilst Head of Direct Marketing led transformational growth in the charity’s direct marketing income, which grew from £27m in 2007 to £57m in 2010. In 2009 her team won Third Sector’s Fundraising Team of the Year. Since September 2010 Liz has been leading a new Fundraising strategy and team at Battersea, who in their first year have more than doubled fundraising income.
Liz is passionate about the sector and the difference that fundraisers can make. She is a member of the Institute of Fundraising’s Learning & Development committee as well as the National Convention Board. Liz has also worked with the Institute of Fundraising to develop new qualifications in charity direct marketing and codes of practice for direct mail and house-to-house collections.