Our trustees

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

The Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership was formed on 1 January 2020 and the trustees and senior staff are drawn equally from both partners.

We’re excited to build on our past collaboration and - together - to now formally use our energy and commitment to benefit everyone affected by asthma and other lung diseases. We intend to be a strong voice for change in respiratory health care services and policy across the UK. We’re confident we’ll be able to invest more in world-leading research and support services by becoming a single organisation. 

Our trustees


Baroness Tessa Blackstone – Chair

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.

Professor Ian Hall – Vice Chair

Ian is Director of the NIHR-Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and works clinically as a respiratory physician, running a specialist clinic for patients with severe asthma in Nottingham.

Ian has over 25 years’ experience in this clinical area and in 1993 was appointed as the inaugural National Asthma Campaign Senior Research Fellow. Ian has been heavily involved in research management and clinical academic training at a national level, as well as medical education.

He chairs the UK Respiratory Research Collaboration. Ian has supported Asthma UK over many years, serving on the Asthma UK research panel, contributing to Asthma UK reports, and participating in workshops for a range of activities including EARIP. 

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.

Jean-Francois Bessiron

Jean-Francois brings over 20 years’ experience in supply chain / commercial operations and digital marketing / technology. He has held senior leadership positions with FTSE100 and NASDAQ quoted companies at Kingfisher, TechData, Amazon, and most recently at Groupon where he is International Vice President.

Jean-Francois has deep expertise in leveraging technology at scale to develop new customer propositions from customer insights to product strategy, customer experience and physical operations (logistics, customer services). He has been leading internal transformation programmes impacting several thousands of employees across EU, developing automation and machine learning to make faster and better business decisions.

Jean-Francois is an Independent Advisor for the UK Government at HM Revenue & Customs.

Jim Bowes

Jim is the CEO and co-founder of Manifesto, an award-winning top-100 digital agency and consultancy. He set up the London-based business in 2011, designing digital services and products around the needs of users, working predominantly across the health, housing, travel and charity sectors.

Jim has worked in digital for over fifteen years, and also presents the podcast Alexa Stop!, which discusses the impact of technology on our lives.

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.

Professor Edwin Chilvers

Edwin is Professor of Medicine, and Head of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London. His research interests are in inflammatory cell biology – relevant to a range of inflammatory lung diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and acute lung injury.

Before taking up his current post, Professor Chilvers was Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Cambridge from 1998-2018. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2007, serving on Council between 2013-16, and was President of the British Thoracic Society in 2016-17.

Dr Isabel DiVanna

Isabel is a director-level business development and marketing professional. She is currently the Executive Director, Commercial and Customer Experience, at RenewableUK, the trade association for green energy.

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

She is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, of the Chartered Management Institute and of the Institute for Leadership and Management. She is also a trustee of Papworth Trust.

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.

Katherine Morgan

Katherine is Director of Marketing and Transformation at Fenwick. Previously she was Head of Business Planning for Sainsbury’s Argos, providing insight and governance for various steering groups and Board level committees. 

Katherine has wide experience balancing customer, commercial and strategic initiatives and hopes to use this to support the partnership’s future activity.

Niren Patel

Niren is an investment strategist at Aviva Investors, and is responsible for building bespoke investment strategies for institutional investors across all areas of design, management and client delivery.

Prior to joining Aviva Investors, Niren was a Director within the Solutions business at BlackRock. He worked with a number of large UK Defined Benefit pension funds to design, implement and evolve their investment strategies.

Niren began his career at KPMG LLP where he worked both in investment and pension consulting. Niren is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Professor Ian Sabroe

Ian is a consultant in respiratory medicine in Sheffield, and an asthma specialist. He undertook a PhD in asthma-related research at the National Heart and Lung Institute at the Royal Brompton Hospital, and has continued research in this area as a consultant and Professor at the University of Sheffield.

Ian helps to coordinate care of people with asthma across the Yorkshire region. He has worked with Asthma UK before on its Research Committee, and has had funding for his research from Asthma UK.

Michael Marmot

President of the British Lung Foundation

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 senior staff

Chief Executive - Kay Boycott

Chief Operating Officer - Ben Clarkson

Director of External Affairs - Alison Cook

Director of Fundraising - James Culling

Director of Services - Mike McKevitt

Director of Research and Innovation - Samantha Walker

Head of Devolved Nations - Joseph Carter