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Meet the team

The staff, trustees and patrons all have different roles but together drive the charity to be brave, inventive and imaginative about how we can transform the hospital experience.


Our team provide support to patients and staff on each of the three sites, Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm.


Chris Burghes

Chief Executive 020 7472 6677

Chris Burghes was appointed as the Charity’s first Chief Executive in the autumn of 2010. Since then he has led the organisation through its re-branding exercise, merger with the Friends and the Charity’s growing fundraising function. Chris is responsible for implementing the Trustees’ plans and managing the charity on a day-to-day basis. He was formerly the Business Development Director at the Fire Fighters Charity and, prior to that, worked for the National Farmers’ Union.

Ikram Hirse

Ikram Hirse

Executive Assistant to CEO 020 7472 6677


Barry Aspland

Director of Finance 020 7794 0500 Ext 23074

Barry joined the Charity in October 2018 with responsibility to provide robust financial management across the Charity’s range of activities including construction of critical infrastructure to operational services to support the needs of patients of the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust. Barry has over 10 years’ experience as a finance director across a wide range of charities delivering services to vulnerable people and has held comparable roles in the private sector.


Julio Grau

Director of Fundraising 020 7317 7774

Julio joined the Royal Free Charity in 2013 to lead the philanthropic campaigns for the major projects of the Charity and manages the fundraising team that secure gifts from individual supporters, legacies and trusts and foundations, and the charity’s retail team. His wide experience in the sector has been acquired at senior fundraising roles held at leading academic, arts and social welfare organisations. Julio is also the charity’s Data Protecion Lead and chair of the Works of Art Committee of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.


Richard Scarth

Director of Operations 020 7317 7773

Richard joined the Charity in 2015 and has responsibility for the growing number of patient and carer services the Charity provides, and for our Volunteer Teams across all sites. In addition he is a Director of The Royal Free Charity Recreation Club. Richard will oversee the Patient Hotel to be located in The Pears Building, where the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation will also be based. Richard started his career in financial services and has held senior positions within large healthcare organisations, where he gained significant experience in delivering support services to a broad range of people. He is also a mentor through the renowned Career Ready Scheme and in his spare time is a busy firefighter with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Genevieve Grimshaw

Genevieve Grimshaw

Head of HR

Genevieve joined the charity in September 2015 as a HR consultant to deliver a HR transformation programme to include the development and embedding of a HR framework for the organisation. This has involved change management, organisation restructure and the development of a leadership team.  Genevieve developed her senior level career in company governance and quality assurance as Assistant Chartered Secretary and ISO Quality Manager and has wide experience working across PLC, private and not for profit sectors in senior chartered secretary, operational and HR roles.  Genevieve is a member of CIPD and CMI and holds a Bachelor of Arts Business Management degree.


Diane Ryan

Head of Community Fundraising 020 7472 6761 ext 34582 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Diane Ryan joined the charity in September 2008 with the responsibility of managing and acknowledging the donations received and maximising the impact these donations made. With the charity becoming a fundraising organisation she is now also responsible for the fundraising activites of the Charity and supporting fundraisers.


Alison Kira

Head of Project Development 07494 479 593 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Alison was appointed in December 2014 initially with responsibility for establishing the charity at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals. She is now responsible for the development of projects that will ensure the delivery of the strategic objectives of the Charity. She has over 20 years experience in the charity sector and has previously held project management, development, and service delivery management roles.

Fred Adams

Fred Adams

Legacies Manager 020 7317 7772

Fred joined the Royal Free Charity in June 2015 with 15 years of fundraising experience gained with national welfare, health and sector infrastructure charities.  Fred has responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of the fundraising strategy for gifts in Wills.  Please contact Fred if you require any information about legacies or if you are interested in supporting the Royal Free Charity with a gift in your Will.

Carla Bispham

Carla Bispham

Community Fundraiser (Barnet) .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Carla joined the charity in September 2015 as the Community Fundraiser for Barnet Hospital. She supports individuals, as well as groups, organisations and businesses who would like to fund raise for the hospital or a specific ward or department. She works with the staff to identify how the charity can improve the patient experience. Carla has previously organised many successful fundraising events in the community. 

Jonathan Mulligan

Jonathan Mulligan

Community Fundraiser (Royal Free) .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Jonathan joined the charity in October 2017. He plans and delivers community fundraising events coordinating with fundraisers and supporters. Jonathan brings a long experience as a lead fundraiser in both emerging and established charities in the UK and Ireland, where he developed fundraising strategies, and ran campaigns to engage individuals and communities.

Ellen Blessington

Ellen Blessington

Fundraising Assistant

Ellen joined the fundraising team in September 2017. She assists the Director of Fundraising with research and the administration of major gifts, provides general support for the fundraising team, and is the first point of contact for all fundraising enquiries. While at university, Ellen volunteered in Uganda building playgrounds for school children and the local communities, and after graduating she moved to Argentina to volunteer with Doctors of the World for four months.


Jenny Todd

Head of Volunteering

Jenny joined the Royal Free Charity team in August 2016 as the new Head of Volunteering. Managing the volunteer teams at the Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm, her remit is to support and grow volunteering across the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust in order to reach more patients with a wider variety of services. Her previous experience includes managing diverse large scale international and local volunteering programmes for a broad range of charities that include Business in the Community and Plan International UK.


Gill Hyatt-Lachs

Volunteer Team Manager (Royal Free) 020 7830 2306

Gill started with the Friends of the Royal Free in 2001, recruiting volunteers for the hospital shop and trolley service. When the Friends merged with the Royal Free Charity in March 2011, Gill came under the umbrella of the Royal Free Charity and now manages the volunteer team at the Royal Free Hospital. She liaises with volunteers, clinics, wards and services to ensure that volunteers are appropriately placed as well as working with partner organisations and ensures that the Charity adheres to best volunteering practice.


Sharon Howarth

Volunteer Assistant Team Manager (Royal Free) 020 7830 2306

Sharon joined the Charity in September 2013 as administrator to the Volunteer Team and became Volunteer Coordinator in 2016. Now as Assistant Manager she is responsible for volunteer recruitment and daily co-ordination and management of volunteers across the Royal Free. Her role involves liaising with wards, clinics and departments in order to establish and develop volunteering placements.

LaDonna Casey

LaDonna Casey

Young Volunteer Coordinator (Royal Free) 020 7830 2306 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

LaDonna joined the volunteer team in October 2016 to help us organise the volunteer rota and their duties and she now assists with the recruitment, selection and support of all new young volunteers at the Royal Free Hospital and satellite sites. She works with Trust staff to develop new fulfilling opportunities for young volunteers that in turn support the needs of the Trust and ensures that young volunteers are placed in suitable roles. LaDonna has been in the charity sector since 2008 working at the Big Lottery Fund, Mencap and Save the Children. She is a keen volunteer, a fitness enthusiast and a tutor of English and Spanish in her spare time.

Monika Sobanska

Monika Sobanska

Young Volunteer Programme Coordinator 020 7830 2306

Monika joined the Charity in November 2018 to manage Young Volunteers at GP practices, a project funded by the Pears Foundation. She is also developing a Live Music project across the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Monika has over 10 years’ experience working within the NHS in both clinical and clerical roles. She is passionate about health and nutrition and is also a qualified Nutritional Therapist.

Alix Temple

Alix Temple

Volunteer Team Administrator (Royal Free and Edgware Neuro Rehab) 020 7830 2306

Alix joined the volunteer team November 2016. She is responsible for answering incoming volunteer enquiries, administering the recruitment process and helping the team with other admin tasks. Alix is helping to increase the number of fundraising volunteers for the charity, and has helped young volunteers fundraise in the local community, with hopes of creating many more fundraising opportunities for volunteers in the future. She comes from a medical administration and recruitment background.

Angela Constantine

Angela Constantine

Volunteer Administrator (Royal Free) 020 7830 2306

Angela began working at The Royal Free Hospital volunteer team over 25 years ago when it was part of the NHS Trust and there were only 2 members of staff to run the service.  She has been integral in growing the volunteer service to what it is today and now in her retirement, Angela helps out in the office with administration for 2 days a week.

Samantha Boyce

Samantha Boyce

Receptionist Administrator 020 7830 2306


Louise Bellass

Volunteer Team Manager (Barnet and Chase Farm) 020 8216 4449

Louise joined the volunteer team in September 2015 and became Team Manager of the Volunteer Teams at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals in June 2019. Louise delivers the volunteers programme and her duties include recruitment, daily support of over 150 volunteers and development of appropriate roles that add value to the work of the hospitals and enhance the patient experience. 

Mee Ling Woo

Mee Ling Woo

Volunteering Team Administrator (Chase Farm) 020 8375 1349

Mee Ling is the team administrator based at Chase Farm Hospital available Monday - Thursday and can support volunteers with enquiries.

Alison Brooking

Alison Brooking

Database Administrator Ext 32589

Alison joined the Charity in July 2018 and leads on gift processing. She is delighted to be involved with thanking the Charity’s wide range of supporters for their generosity. Alison also supports the Databases Manager on maintaining the quality and integrity of the data held by the Charity.

Kedir Mohammed

Kedir Mohammed

Finance Manager 020 7794 0500 Ext 23077

Basia Coltman

Basia Coltman

Assistant Charity Accountant 020 7794 0500 Ext 37511

Andrea Petrou

Andrea Petrou

Management Accountant 020 7472 6677 Ext 36073

Gosia Grela

Gosia Grela

Accounts Assistant

Laura Butler

Laura Butler

Retail Manager 07487 241875

Laura joined the Charity in February 2017 as Shops Project Manager to set-up our first charity retail shops. As Retail Manager, she is now responsible for implementing the policies and procedures for the shops and line management and recruitment of the shop staff. Laura previously managed community development projects including the first charity shop for Groundwork South in Hillingdon.


Trustees give their time and expertise at no cost to the charity but with a passion to really make a difference to every patient at the point when they need it most. They take on challenging projects and are visionary about how healthcare can be supported. The patient is always at the heart of their decisions.


Judy Dewinter

Chair of trustees - joined the board: 2018

Judy was appointed chair in May 2019.  Before this she had had a successful career with the world’s first electronic brokerage firm, Instinet, culminating in a board role leading its European equities division.

In 2003 Judy started treatment for the blood cancer multiple myeloma. Since then she has worked tirelessly to improve the treatment for and care of myeloma patients,  chairing the board of Myeloma UK and then becoming its president.  Judy is the lead governor at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (RFL), where she has been treated for many years. She is also a patient representative on various boards and advisory groups.

She said: “I am delighted to be leading the Royal Free Charity as we continue our work to improve the services provided to patients, support the dedicated and hardworking Royal Free staff and fund research.”


Akta Raja

Vice-chair - joined the board: 2019

Akta, who is the board representative for the RFL, is a partner in a fund that incubates small UK businesses and is the fund board member for their investments.

She trained as solicitor at Slaughter and May and worked in mergers and acquisitions before founding her own company. This was subsequently sold to the firm where she now works.

She has been a non-executive director on the RFL trust board since January 2017, chairs the trust’s finance committee, sits on a number of board committees and on the boards of the trust’s wholly-owned subsidiaries.  She is also chair of the local members’ council at the Hampstead site.

She said: “I am very pleased to be representing the trust on the board of the Royal Free Charity, which provides valuable support to patients and staff.”


Russell Brooks

Trustee - joined the board: 2015

Russell became a trustee following the merger of the RFL with his local hospitals, Barnet and Chase Farm.

He works at the London School of Economics and Political Science as associate director for executive education. Before this he spent eight years working at Cancer Research UK, where he was part of the team who delivered a successful £100 million capital appeal to fund the charity’s contribution to the construction of the Francis Crick Institute. He holds other voluntary roles.

Russell said: “I am proud to be part of the Royal Free Charity. Our donors and volunteers are inspirational and make an incredible impact by improving the patient experience at our three hospitals.”


Liz Cleaver

Trustee - joined the board: 2011

Liz is an experienced media professional who left the BBC in 2010 after 26 years in a variety of roles from radio and television production to launching BBC Knowledge, the forerunner of BBC4. She was also controller, BBC Learning, responsible for the BBC’s learning output and activity. 

She now works as a digital media consultant and is particularly interested in customer/audience engagement. She is involved with several charities. “I became a trustee because I was keen to support my local hospital, the Royal Free, and have a particular interest in improving the patient experience. “


Russell Gilbert

Board treasurer - joined the board: 2011

Russell, who was appointed in June 2011, trained as an aeronautical engineer in Bristol and completed a PhD at Cambridge University. For most of his career he worked with Shell, initially in the North Sea and latterly as a project manager in China, Malaysia and Nigeria. He was a non-executive director of Islington Primary Care Trust and works with the Cranfield Trust and Developing Technologies, a charity based at City University.

“While my children were growing up, we needed and received a huge amount of support from the NHS. Becoming a trustee of the charity has given me the opportunity to give something in return. As treasurer and chair of the charity's development and property companies, I have had the opportunity to contribute some of my financial and project management experience to the board.”


Michael Luck

Trustee - joined the board: 2018

Mike has worked for Sainsbury’s since 2002 in a variety of roles including buying, pharmacy and produce. He is currently director of business development.

Both of Mike’s children were born at the Royal Free Hospital and he was drawn to help the charity after his wife became a transplant patient there. "I have a real drive to support the charity in improving the patient and staff experience and I look forward to the charity building on the success it has already achieved."


Steve Shaw

Trustee - joined the board: 2018

Steve has been chief executive of Barnet Hospital since July 2017. A consultant in intensive care for more than 20 years, he was previously clinical director for intensive care and then divisional director for urgent care.

He is passionate about patient care and has led a number of quality improvement projects that have developed real benefits for patients. “I am delighted to help the charity in supporting first class care for our patients across the Royal Free Group.”


We are very grateful to our patrons for their support of those at their most vulnerable. They are in a unique position to speak out for the patients' benefit and to champion cutting edge treatments, facilities and research.


HRH The Duke of York



Alain de Botton



Lord Bragg



Jim Broadbent


It was absolute pleasure to visit the hospital and see first-hand the world leading research that is taking place at the Royal Free. I was amazed that in my local hospital life changing research is happening on a daily basis.


Joseph Connolly



Simon Callow CBE



Dame Jenni Murray


I am proud to be a Patron of the Royal Free Charity and support its work in helping improve patient care and the environment within the Royal Free Hospital. I had the best of treatment there for my broken humerus (not at all funny!) and, in times of great difficulty for the NHS, feel the Charity is essential in ensuring all patients are as satisfied as I am.


Susie Orbach


Geoff Posner

Geoff Posner



Simon Weston CBE



Richard Wilson OBE


Becoming a Patron of the Royal Free Charity is my ‘way of showing support for the hospital that has been my “local” for 55 years now and to help encourage the world leading research that is going on there at present.

Recreation Club staff

Providing training expertise, support and advice our Rec Club staff will ensure that you are able to get the most out of your membership.



Rec Club Manager

Kelly is the inspirational Rec Club manager who has transformed the club into the newly refurbished and energised hub it is today. She has a sport & exercise science degree and is Level 3 Fitness Qualified and has had an interesting past, working in Saudi Arabia. Her inspirational quote is, “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”



Duty Manager - Fitness

Umar has been in the Fitness industry for 14 years. He has NVQ - Level 2 & 3 in sport & recreation management and Level 3 personal training, nutrition and exercise for the older generation qualifications. He is also qualified in TRX, HITT, Strength, Circuits and spinning class. His inspirational quote is, "Goals give you more than a reason to get up in the morning; they are an incentive to keep you going all day."



Assistant Club Manager

Norma has worked at the Rec club since 1979. She is a big rugby and football fan (All-Blacks and Liverpool!). Her inspirational quote is, “ If the opportunity doesn’t come knocking, build a door.”



Duty Manager - Membership

Ben has been working at the Rec Club since 2000 and will help you with any membership questions. He is an Arsenal football season ticket holder.
His inspirational quote is "Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must KEEP moving."
Fun Fact! Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour.



Duty Manager - Housekeeping

Magda has been in the Fitness industry for 8 years, she is Level 3 fitness qualified, Level 4 qualified in low back pain management and qualified in Kettle bell and Boxercise classes.Her inspirational quote is, "The secret to getting ahead is getting started."



Duty Manager - Maintenance

Dom has been in the Fitness industry since 2011 and has Level 2 fitness qualification. He is a big follower of rugby and passionate about cycling. (Runs a mean spin class!)
His inspirational quote is "Success is failure turned inside out, the silver lining on the clouds of doubt."



Fitness instructor

Dan is a fitness instructor with Level 2 fitness and Level 3 Personal Training qualifications. He loves swimming and weight lifting.
His inspirational quote is "You don’t have to be GREAT to start, but you have to START to be GREAT."