Our trustees

Our trustees and senior staff are dedicated to leading the fight against lung disease across the UK.


Michael Marmot

Professor Sir Michael Marmot

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, founder of the Institute of Health Equity, has over 35 years’ research experience focused on how people’s social circumstances affect their health.

His work as principal investigator on the Whitehall Studies of British civil servants fundamentally changed the public health focus of preventing ill health from lifestyle behaviours to social causes. Sir Michael also chaired the World Health Organisation’s ‘Commission on Social Determinants in Health’, and the landmark English review of health inequalities (the ‘Marmot Review’).

He is a former president of the British Medical Association and previous winner of the Balzan Prize for Epidemiology and William B. Graham Prize for Health Services Research.

Our trustees

An image of Baroness Tessa Blackstone, our chair of the board of trustees

Chair of the board of trustees – Baroness Tessa Blackstone

Baroness Blackstone is a Labour peer and has chaired the board of a wide range of organisations. She studied at the London School of Economics (LSE) where she went on to take her doctorate. Her academic career began as a lecturer in social administration at LSE. Later, she became professor of educational administration at the University of London Institute of Education.

She was minister of state in the Department for Education and Employment and then in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Tessa has published widely in academic journals, and written a number of books mainly on social and educational policy.

An image of Professor Stephen Spiro, one of of our trustees

Professor Stephen Spiro

Stephen is an honorary medical adviser for the British Lung Foundation, and the vice chair of the charity.

He is a professor of respiratory medicine. He was head of department at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) until retiring from the NHS in December 2008 and is now an honorary consultant physician at UCLH and the Royal Brompton Hospital, London.

Stephen helped form the London Lung Cancer Group, which has run clinical trials for more than 30 years. He has also undertaken research into respiratory physiology, sleep disordered breathing and screening in people with a high risk of lung cancer.

He still teaches undergraduates at UCLH, and is chair of Rennie Grove Hospice Care.

An image of John Graham, our treasurer

Treasurer - John Graham

After completing a chemistry degree at Oxford University, John trained as an accountant with Deloitte in Manchester. He worked in industry with BP, the Seiko Epson Group in the UK and eventually became finance director of Northamber plc, a FTSE 250 company.

In 1996 he became finance director of NSPCC, staying with them for 11 years before moving as finance director to the Royal British Legion in 2008 until 2016.

During his 20 years with the charity sector, John has been involved in a number of sector initiatives including advice on pensions and risk. For 8 years he sat on the Charity Commission SORP committee helping to articulate the international accounting standards for the benefit of the charity sector.

John is chair of the finance and audit committee.

An image of Ralph Bernard, one of of our trustees

Ralph Bernard CBE

Ralph Bernard’s media career has spanned over 30 years. He was responsible for the UK’s first commercial radio merger, which ultimately created GWR Group, the country’s largest radio group until 2008.

In 1991, Ralph had the original idea to launch Classic FM, Britain’s most successful commercial radio station. Ralph led the GWR Group for more than 25 years, stepping down as chief executive in 2008. He received a CBE for services to broadcasting in the 2002 Jubilee Honours.

In addition to his work with the BLF, Ralph is also chairman of the Central School of Ballet and chairman of Classic FM.

An image of Teresa Burgoyne, one of of our trustees

Teresa Burgoyne

Teresa is a retired nurse who worked in the NHS for 32 years, 20 years as a sister in intensive care and 10 years as a respiratory nurse. She has worked nationally with the RCN, regionally on the East Midlands Respiratory Programme Alliance  and locally on clinical commissioning group committees lobbying for respiratory patients. 

For the last 10 years she has dedicated her time volunteering for the BLF helping to set up one of the first Integrated Breathe Easy groups(IBE), Nottingham West. In the last two years she has helped set up and mentor Breathe Easy Hucknall and Breathe Easy Gedling groups and has joined the new BLF project advisory group to offer guidance and support to the delivery of the Big Lottery and Nesta IBE project.

She is passionate about making a difference and improving quality of life for patients, their carers and families and wants to share the Breathe Easy experience with other members of Breathe Easy groups to make a difference nationally.

An image of Emily Bushby, one of of our trustees

Emily Bushby

Emily is the chief operating officer at Guarantco.

Her previous roles have included leading the finance function of a medical related charity, mergers and acquisitions for a highly acquisitive FTSE 30 business, and investment management within the banking sector.

She trained as a chartered accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London and is an alumnus of Exeter University, where she gained a BSc in Psychology.

Emily is chair of the governance committee.

An image of Isabel DiVanna, one of of our trustees

Isabel DiVanna

Isabel is a director-level business development and marketing professional. She is currently the commercial director of the Bar Council.

She has been a director of corporate partnerships and business development in London and in Cambridge, and she spent many years working on professional development, continuing training and executive education, following a career as a lecturer in history in Cambridge (at Wolfson and then Clare College).

She has experience working in the professional services (consulting, research and advisory) and not-for-profit sectors (education, charities, Royal Charter and local authority) seeking to grow their portfolio and business through fundraising, partnerships and commercial activities.

She is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and of the Chartered Management Institute, and a member of the Institute of Fundraising and of the Business Continuity Institute.

An image of Dr Francis Gilchrist, one of of our trustees

Dr Francis Gilchrist

Dr Francis Gilchrist is a senior lecturer at Keele University and a consultant respiratory paediatrician at Royal Stoke University Hospital.  He currently practices paediatric respiratory medicine with a special interest in asthma, chronic lung infections, cystic fibrosis and flexible bronchoscopy.

Dr Gilchrist graduated with honours from the University of Manchester in 2002. He undertook his core paediatric training in the North West Deanery before moving to the West Midlands to complete his paediatric respiratory training at Royal Stoke University Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. After gaining his CCT in 2010 he took a two year clinical fellow post at the Manchester Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre during which time he completed his PhD.  He took up his current role in September 2012.

An image of David Gill, one of our trustees

David Gill

David has a vast business experience; he currently runs his own publishing consultancy and, in a distinguished career spanning 35 years, he has held a number of senior management positions including at The Economist

An image of John Loots, one of of our trustees

John Loots

Born in Luton and brought up in Acton, West London John served an engineering apprenticeship with Napier Aero Engines. Following a number of promotions over the years, John managed a project to implement the manufacture of components using a new technology – liquid silicone rubber moulding. This led to a transfer to the main manufacturing location in Santa Ana, California.

Returning to the UK, John was promoted to manufacturing operations manager until he was head hunted by Interconnection Products Ltd in Derbyshire where he was appointed as operations manager. After a year he was managing director!

After 19 years, he joined Business Link South Yorkshire as a business adviser, a position that he held until retirement in 2008.

John was diagnosed with COPD in 2005. His involvement with Breathe Easy began in December 2013 following a presentation about the newly formed group at the pulmonary rehabilitation class.

An image of Richard Pettit, one of of our trustees

Richard Pettit

Richard's career as a solicitor began in Baker Street in his family firm, before spending thirty years as a partner of Clifford Chance LLP, based in the City.

He founded and managed the firm's office in Singapore for seven years. He is now a consultant with Thorp Alberga, an offshore law firm.

Outside the practice of law, he was a non-executive director at a subsidiary of Mizuho Corporate Bank; and he spent five years as an original trustee of Sparrow Schools Foundation, a Dulwich based charity which funds schooling for disadvantaged children living in Johannesburg townships.

Our senior staff

Chief Executive - Dr Penny Woods

Director of External Affairs - Alison Cook

Director of Fundraising - James Culling

Director of Patient Services - Mike McKevitt

Head of Devolved Nations - Joseph Carter

Our medical and scientific advisers >