Who we are

Asthma UK is governed by a Council of Trustees and is chaired by Professor Robert Wilson.

Asthma UK has a long history, stretching all the way back to 1927, when the Asthma Research Council was founded after the Earl of Limerick wrote to The Times.

Today Asthma UK is a membership-based charity with a current membership of approximately 5,200. Council sets the strategic direction of the charity, ensuring the charity achieves its objectives whilst upholding the charity’s values.

The day to day running of the Charity is the responsibility of the Senior Leadership Team. More details of our governance structure can be found in our governance section. 

On this page:

Our Board and Trustees

Professor Robert Wilson (Chair)

Professor Rob Wilson was appointed as Chair in July 2009. He is a Consultant Physician, and Clinical Lead of Lung Infection at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital. He is also an adjunct Professor of Medicine at Imperial College London.

John Tucker (Vice Chair)

John retired from legal practice in April 2016 after 5 years as a partner of an Australian firm and 26 years as a partner at Linklaters with various board and management responsibilities in London and New York. He is a Director and Finance Committee member of London First and Chairman of Governors at The Study preparatory school for girls in Wimbledon. John joined as a Trustee of Asthma UK in June 2015 and is a member of the Remuneration and Nominations Committees. John also holds various consulting roles for established as well as start-up ventures.

George Anson

George became a Trustee in June 2015 and brings 30 years of entrepreneurial and financial expertise. He is a Managing Director of HarbourVest Partners, a global private equity investment management company, having founded their London office in 1990. He is also a former Director and Chairman of Invest Europe. George is a Trustee of The Watts Gallery and The Anson Charitable Trust. He sits on the Finance and Audit Committee.

Jim Bowes

Jim became a trustee in March 2017 to help Asthma UK maximise the benefit of its use of digital technology. He is the CEO and co-founder of Manifesto, an award-winning top-100 digital agency and consultancy. Jim 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, he presents the podcast Alexa Stop!, which discusses the impact of technology on our lives.

Jean-Francois Bessiron

Jean-Francois became a Trustee in March 2017 and brings over 20 years’ experience in Retailing, both online and offline, in senior leadership positions with large UK and global organisations, including at UK Board level. His expertise spans from buying, supply chain, marketing, merchandising and, in the past 8 years, digital and technology at Amazon. He has led large commercial divisions and has launched in 2016 AmazonFresh, a new online grocery service in the UK. He is currently working on developing Amazon new “Business to Business” initiative across Europe.

Kate Clarke

Kate is the Chair of our Remuneration Committee, and became a trustee in 2012. She has a background in marketing, having worked at Mars Confectionery and Kraft Foods. She is keen to use her commercial experience to support and grow Asthma UK’s fundraising.

Professor Ian Hall

Ian joined as a Trustee in July 2017. He is currently 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. 

Dr Paul Hodgkin

After working as a GP for 25 years, Paul founded www.CareOpinion.org.uk in 2005, a not-for- profit website where patients, carers and staff can share stories of care. Paul brings experience and knowledge of the impact of the digital world in the healthcare arena to the role of Trustee at Asthma UK, and joined in June 2015. He is a member of the Finance and Audit Committee.

Mary Leadbeater

Mary is a Chartered Accountant. After working in finance roles for the Royal Dutch Shell Group for 15 years she joined the NHS in 1994 as a hospital Finance Director. She has been a Trustee and member of the Finance and Audit Committee since 2012, and was co-opted as a Trustee from June 2015. She provides advice on financial management based on her experience gained as a board member of several healthcare and charitable organisations.

Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie OBE FRSE

Sir Lewis joined as a Trustee of Asthma UK in March 2016. Lewis is jointly qualified in general practice and public health medicine and is Mackenzie Professor of General Practice at the University of Aberdeen. He has R&D interests in developing new models of service delivery, eHealth and disease prevention. He has significant experience of NHS Boards at Non-Executive and Executive level, and as a Charity Trustee. Lewis a member of the Nominations Committee.

Martin Sinclair

Martin was an Assistant Auditor General at the National Audit Office, the external auditors of central government until September 2015. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. He is a Non-Executive Director of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. He joined as a Trustee in 2012. He has been a member of the Asthma UK Finance and Audit Committee since 2010, and became Chair of the Committee in September 2016.  He contributes to the charity providing advice on accounting, audit, risk and performance management issues.

Jane Tozer MBE OBE

Jane’s career was in the technology sector.  She is currently Senior Independent Director at StatPro plc, Non-Executive Director at Nominet Ltd, Senior Independent Director at F&C Global Smallers plc, Non-Executive Director at her local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and a member of the Warwick Business School Advisory Board.  Jane has also held directorships with various government departments.  Jane joined as a Trustee in 2011, and is a member of the Remuneration Committee, the Finance & Audit Committee and the Research Commercialisation Board.


Chief Executive and Senior Team

Kay Boycott – Chief Executive

Kay began her career in commercial roles for Nestlé and Johnson & Johnson, followed by 10 years in strategy consultancy for clients including GlaxoSmithKline, Nestle and Vodafone. She was also a Non-Executive Director and Audit Chair of NHS Hammersmith & Fulham Primary Care Trust for five years and a Trustee of Gingerbread.

Kay moved to the charity sector in 2009 as Director of Campaigns, Policy and Communications at the housing and homelessness charity Shelter and became Chief Executive of Asthma UK in October 2013. Kay is a member of the Kings Fund General Advisory Council and was shortlisted as Digital Leader of the Year in 2017. 

Dr Samantha Walker – Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Research and Policy

Samantha joined Asthma UK in January 2011. A nurse by training, she maintains her research activity through an honorary senior lectureship (non-clinical) in the Division of Community Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh and has published extensively on asthma and allergy for over 25 years in high impact research journals.

Harriet Jones – Director of Finance and Resources

Harriet joined Asthma UK as Director of Finance and Resources in January 2015.

Previously, Harriet was Finance Bursar at University College School, a foundation of independent schools. This followed a period at the Home Office and various roles at the BBC over 9 years, most latterly heading up the Business Analysis and Planning team. Harriet qualified as a chartered accnNiountant whilst working at Deloitte.

Dr Nina Blackett - Director of Digital Health 

Nina joined Asthma UK in 2017 with more than 20 years’ experience in developing digital products, largely in education and health. After a career in commercial digital publishing, including Oxford University Press, Dorling Kindersley and BMJ, she first moved to the charity sector (Macmillan Cancer Support) in 2015 following completion of her PhD in digital health, which looked at charity provision of digital tools and resources alongside commercial models. 

Rachel Devereux - Interim Director of Income Generation 

Rachel joined  Asthma UK in June 2018 to lead the Fundraising team. Rachel has a varied commercial background across marketing and digital. Including roles at MORE TH>N, Experian and most recently LeasePlan.

In these roles she has led successful commercial acquisition and retention teams- improving efficiency of spend and operations, growing revenues through NPD, events and digital sales channels.

Alison McNamara - Director of People and Organisational Development 

Alison joined Asthma UK in July 2017 to head up the People and Organisational Development team. Alison has over 15 years experience in organisational and people development having worked in a variety of roles leading on; change management, leadership development, reward, productivity and performance in housing, economic development and audit and inspection fields.