David Mitchell, National Chairman
David Mitchell was re-elected as national Chairman of Trustees in September 2017. With three years’ service as a Trustee already, including serving as both Vice Chairman and National Chairman, David remains passionate about The British Polio Fellowship and committed to engaging with the membership and encouraging new groups.
Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, David contracted Polio in 1965 and since becoming a member of The British Polio Fellowship 16 years ago, David has divided his time between supporting the Lincolnshire Branch at local level, and his national duties.
A seasoned campaigner for the rights of people living with disabilities generally, David was recently appointed as a Director of the European Polio Union (EPU).
“My three years as a trustee have been hard work and full of challenges; difficult decisions and much future planning, but always enjoyable,” explained David. “I am proud to serve as National Chairman. We have accomplished a great deal, but more remains to be done. We are listening to the members and our challenge is to meet their needs and expectations.”
Gwenda Cope, National Vice Chairman
Having joined the Board of Trustees in 2016, Gwenda was elected as National Vice Chairman of Trustees in September 2017. Having joined The British Polio Fellowship when a friend introduced her to a member; Gwenda brings her considerable experience of the voluntary and charitable sectors to the role.
Having contracted Polio in the 1950s as a young child, Gwenda feels that the charity can reach out to the thousands of people out there who contracted Polio when she did and now face the long term and often unsuspected effects of Polio in the form of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). In doing so, Gwenda believes the charity can expand the membership base and amplify its voice in respect of PPS awareness.
Now retired from her career in developing affordable homes for housing associations, Gwenda is applying her skills to helping the charity face both current and future challenges and given the impact of the cold on members with PPS, Gwenda agreed to be the face of the charity’s 2017/18 Winter Warmth Appeal.
Aidan Linton-Smith, National Treasurer
Aidan Linton-Smith was elected as Vice-Chairman of Trustees in September 2016 and following the 2017 AGM, now takes the reigns as National Treasurer.
Having contracted Polio when just a few weeks old, Aidan has lived with the condition all his life but has not let it get the way of successful work and sporting careers. A Londoner by birth, Aidan is a member of the Home Counties North Region and has been a member of the charity for over 30 years. Aidan is the perfect choice for Treasurer, having filled the role in the past for eleven years and served as the Inner London Branch Treasurer for 36 years.
Aidan had a starring role in the Paralympic games in 2012 where he was a Gamesmaker in his own sport of Boccia – a title he has won at the charity’s National Indoor Games on six previous occasions.
“I have taken part in the games since the beginning, including as a youngster when they were held outdoors,” said Aidan. “The games are one of the few opportunities we have to compete and having been involved with The British Polio Fellowship for over 30 years, I am still very proud to be involved; serving as Vice-Chairman and now as national Treasurer.”
Archie Leyden returned to the Board of Trustees in September 2017, having served as a Trustee for eight years in the past. A member since 1962, Archie’s wide-ranging experience will prove invaluable in guiding the charity through the important decisions that need to be made in the months and years ahead.
When Archie was forced to give up work due to PPS, he devoted his time to volunteering with a range of organisations. Archie became a member of the regional council of The British Polio Fellowship in Scotland and ultimately, its chairman.
“In my previous time as a Trustee, I worked with three CEOs and there were many challenges,” explained Archie. “The board didn’t always agree but everything is looked at very closely before any decisions were made. I have enjoyed everything The British Polio Fellowship has to offer and made many friends. I have always stood for members throughout the UK and I will continue to do so.”
Andrew (Andy) Gilliland was elected to the Board of Trustees for the first time in September 2017. While this is Andy’s first stint on the Board, he has been a member of the charity for 57 years, making many lifelong friends along the way.
Andy is a well-known and respected figure in the Merseyside Branch and the North West Region generally. Andy contacted Polio when four years old and wears a full length calliper on his right reg. Growing up with Polio on the top floor of a tenement in the centre of Liverpool, (with ten flights of stairs and no lifts) cannot have been easy, but Andy went onto gain a BSC in Geography at Liverpool University and an MA in Disability Issues at the University of Leeds.
“I’m Merseyside Branch Treasurer and North West Secretary,” said Andy. “I worked as a Regional Planning Manager with Royal Mail for many years, working with people at all levels and from diverse backgrounds so I feel I have the ideal background for this challenge. The British Polio Fellowship lies very close to my heart and I will work to the best of my ability in seeing that we, the members, celebrate our 90th and 100th anniversaries.”
Bosik Gharapetian has been a Trustee of The British Polio Fellowship for the last three years, in addition to serving on both the Expert Panel and the Remuneration Committee.
As a member of the Expert Panel, Bosik was involved with the production of Post Polio Syndrome, A Guide to management for Healthcare Professionals which continues to have a profound impact.
Having contracted Polio in 1959 aged just six months, Bosik now lives with PPS and is a great believer in the work of The British Polio Fellowship. Bosik uses experience gained in management, consultancy, human resources, banking and finance not just to help The British Polio Fellowship, but another charitable organisation serving the most vulnerable and underprivileged members of the community.
“I am delighted to continue to serve as a Trustee and will continue to work hard to both promote the work of The British Polio Fellowship and serve my fellow members to the best of my capabilities.”
Andrew (Andy) Mack continues to use his Board level financial and governance expertise for the benefit of the Board of Trustees and the membership as a whole. An economics graduate and qualified Chartered Accountant, Andy has spent his career specialising in the audit of the NHS and other charity organisations.
Andy is currently Head of Public Sector Audit at Grant Thornton (the fifth largest accounting firm in the UK) and a non-executive director at the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. Andy contracted Polio at a young age but found inspiration in adversity. While unable to achieve early sporting ambitions, Andy took up chess – reaching Master level and qualifying five times for the British Championships.
Andy is committed to ensuring the charity is well managed; that effective communication takes place with members and that opportunities to generate income are maximised and all funds are spent wisely.
Christine Lumb continues to be a key member of the Board. Christine’s many years of service to the charity at both regional and national level, (together with her late husband Gordon) means she needs little introduction to members.
Actively involved with the charity since 1954 when she joined the Wakefield Branch, Christine has gone on to serve as Secretary and Treasurer of the Branch and is the current branch Vice Chairman. For many years, Christine was a Yorkshire Regional Rep and heavily involved in Swimming Galas and sporting events. It is for sporting events that Christine is perhaps best known to the wider membership, being an active member of the National Championship Organising Committee and currently serving as Chairman.
Working for both a solicitor and West Yorkshire Police means Christine has a wealth of experience for the Board to call upon, not least having witnessed and helped shape decades of the charity’s development first hand.
“I recognise our members are experiencing greater difficulties with the onset of PPS,” added Christine. “ My aim as a Trustee is to ensure all our members have access to the latest information on issues relevant to our condition and to help make life for members as easy as and enjoyable as possible.”