Meet the team

Judy Dewinter

Judy was appointed chair in May 2019.

She 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 left her job when she 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. She is also a patient representative on various boards and advisory groups and was previously the lead governor at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (RFL), where she has been treated for many years.

She said: “I am delighted to be leading the Royal Free Charity to help the RFL move further and faster, investing in the services provided to patients, supporting the dedicated and hardworking Royal Free staff and funding research.”

Akta Raja

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

She trained as a 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 Royal Free Hospital 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

Russell became a charity trustee following the merger of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust with his local hospitals, Barnet and Chase Farm.

Russell works at the Heriot-Watt University as the CEO for Heriot-Watt Online. He was previously Associate Director for Executive Education at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Russell 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.

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.”

Julie Hamilton

Julie is the group chief nurse at the Royal Free London. She began her nursing career in general surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, before moving to intensive care at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Following a number of years there in various clinical and professional leadership roles, including director of nursing, Julie joined the Royal Free London in January 2019 as director of nursing for Barnet Hospital and was appointed group chief nurse in August 2020.

Valerie Jolliffe

Following a career in corporate finance in the City, Valerie moved into early-stage venture investing, principally in the technology sector, and has a particular interest in how new technologies can be applied in a healthcare setting.

Valerie is currently on the board of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine and is a trustee and treasurer of Beat, the eating disorders charity. She was previously a long-standing trustee of the Imperial Health Charity. Valerie has a MSc in Charity Accounting and Finance from Bayes Business School.

She said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to join the charity of my local hospital. I have previous experience of supporting an NHS charity, so I have a deep insight into how this comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. I’m very keen to apply my expertise here, in terms of both my charity and financial experience.

Peter Landstrom

Peter Landstrom was appointed as the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust’s acting group chief executive on 11 October 2023 — he had been acting in the role since May 2023.

Peter joined the Royal Free London in April 2022 from his previous role as chief delivery and strategy officer for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.

A graduate of Cardiff University, Peter started his career as a management consultant in PricewaterhouseCoopers, before joining the NHS in 2003.

He worked in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board for more than 10 years and held senior operational management roles across community, secondary and tertiary services, including leadership at a national level for several specialist services in Wales.

In 2015 he joined Western Sussex Hospitals, where he was chief operating officer, before going on in 2017 to be appointed as one of the group executives of both the Western and Brighton, and Sussex trusts, and leading on their merger in 2021.

Simon Lyons

Simon is an experienced investment banker, advising clients around the world on some of their most important strategic decisions. He spent the early part of his career at UBS before becoming a founding partner of PJT Partners which has grown from a start up in 2015 to a leading global financial institution today.

He said: “I was born at the Royal Free Hospital, grew up near Chase Farm and live near Barnet Hospital. As a beneficiary of all three sites, I know how vital these services are. I am passionate about supporting staff, patients and research to enhance the NHS experience which is so critical to our national wellbeing.”

Katie Morrison

Katie has 20 years’ experience in communications in the third and public sector.  Currently director of communications, campaigns and UK programmes at Plan International UK, she previously oversaw press, external affairs and internal communications for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Charity.

Katie started her career at the BBC before moving to Comic Relief and then UNICEF UK, where she managed the organisation’s UK media and communications work, including raising awareness of UNICEF’s work in emergencies and delivering large-scale fundraising and communications campaigns.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the Royal Free Charity team and excited to use my skills and experience to help the charity go from strength to strength, maximising the support we can give to the incredible staff of the trust, building on all the work done to improve patient experience and funding vital research projects.”

Melanie Sherwood

Melanie started a career in finance in 1986 after graduating from Manchester University. After completing an MBA from Cranfield School of Management in 1992 she worked in the retail, publishing and property sector.

She is a trustee of two charities: It’s Your Life, which helps underprivileged children and families in the UK, and Grenada Schools, an educational charity.  She has also been an active member of various charity committees, including  Save the Children and Centrepoint.

“I’ve lived in Hampstead most of my life,” she said. “We are very lucky to have a first class hospital so close and I am keen to use my skills to help support it.” ​

Dr Gillian Smith

Dr Gillian Smith is the interim chief medical officer of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. A consultant urologist by background, Gillian was previously the medical director of the Royal Free Hospital and has had a range of clinical and professional leadership experience with a focus on improvement and service transformation.

“The Royal Free Charity is a vital partner for the trust and allows us to accelerate improvements that we could not deliver alone. As a trustee, I am looking forward to building on the incredible work that RFC has done to support our patients, our colleagues, and our researchers.”

Alain de Botton

Lord Bragg

Joseph Connolly

Simon Callow CBE

Dame Jenni Murray

I am proud to be a supporter of the Royal Free Charity and to 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

Simon Weston CBE

Richard Wilson OBE

Becoming a supporter 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.

Jon Spiers

Jon joined us in September 2020. He began his career as a graduate trainee at Cancer Research UK, working across fundraising, strategy, IT and policy and then led the development of its campaigning function, leading policy campaigns on issues like tobacco control, cancer funding and science policy, including getting Parliament to back smoke-free public places.

During a period in public affairs and PR consultancy for health charities and pharmaceutical companies he helped introduce a new meningitis vaccine, genomic cancer testing and new therapies for conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and lung cancer. He then became chief executive at Autistica, the UK’s autism research charity, leading an initiative to make autism a clinical priority for the NHS, ensuring autistic people co-designed services and funding many globally-renowned research studies.

Robin Meltzer

Robin was appointed in July 2020 to work closely with our stakeholders, within our three hospitals and in the wider community, to raise the profile of the charity and increase engagement at all levels as we support and add  value to the work of the trust.

Robin was director of fundraising and marketing at a health research charity before joining the Royal Free. Following a career in international television production, Robin moved to the charity sector via political campaigning, communications and fundraising. He served as vice-chair of the London Liberal Democrats and managed campaigns across west and south west London.

He was an early campaigner against the causes of air pollution, winning the independent Clean Air in London Award for his efforts to tackle air pollution in the capital.

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.

Alison Kira

Alison joined the charity in December 2014 initially with responsibility for establishing the Royal Free Charity at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals following acquisition by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust earlier that year. Since 2020 Alison has held the role of director of grants and services overseeing much of the charity’s expenditure on its beneficiaries, and since April 2024 as director of grants. Alison oversees compliance and governance for approximately £9 million of grants and special purpose fund expenditure, for the benefit of patients and visitors, staff and research and development projects. Prior to joining the charity Alison spent 15 years with a national youth charity managing a portfolio of prevention and early intervention services and programmes across London and the Midlands.

Paul Stein

Paul is an experienced fundraising director and consultant, specialising in start-ups, talent development and the building of effective philanthropic partnerships.

He began his career at Macmillan Cancer Support, progressing to Greater London area fundraising manager, a role in which he managed community fundraising across the capital. Since then he has played an integral part in raising the profile and increasing voluntary income for charities such as World Jewish Relief and MQ: Transforming Mental Health.

Paul joined the charity in January 2020. He is responsible for all aspects of income generation, including major giving, individual giving and community fundraising.

A published author (Donors for Life: A Practitioners’ Guide to Relationship Fundraising), Paul regularly features in lists of the UK’s 50 most influential fundraisers. He is a frequent journal contributor and speaker on the fundraising and marketing conference circuit, outlining his commitment to best practice and innovation throughout the sector.

Sharron Grant

Sharron joined the charity in May 2020 from Jewish Care where she worked for 16 years as the head of human resources. Jewish Care is the largest provider of health and social care services for the Jewish community in the UK.

Prior to working in the charity sector,  Sharron worked for an IT, utilities and sales company in various human resources roles.

David Cheesman

David joined the charity in May 2023 with a particular focus on developing our support for the cancer strategy. He joins the Royal Free Charity from Royal Free London where he was director of strategy.

He was previously programme director for Guy’s & St Thomas’ (GSTT) Comprehensive Cancer Centre where he led on the establishment of two new cancer centres – the award winning £160m Cancer Centre at Guy’s (which opened in September 2016) and a second smaller centre at Queen Mary’s Hospital (in May 2017) in Sidcup.

He was subsequently appointed managing director of the South East London Cancer Alliance and established a collaborative model to deliver high quality cancer services across community, primary, and secondary care in south east London.

Laura James

Laura’s role is to identify opportunities for charity wide innovation with internal and external stakeholders and development of the charities services portfolio with a particular focus on services supporting cancer patients, carers, and their families. She joined the charity last year to lead our services during the maternity leave of assistant director of services Jenny Todd.

Laura joined us from Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK), where she was the head of clinical services, peer support, health information and emotional support for nearly seven years, leading award-winning health information and nursing teams. There she developed new services such as a WhatsApp support service and an emotional counselling service, which led to over 15,000 people accessing PCUK services every year.

Laura was also a qualified nurse. Her nursing career began in the acute admissions unit at University College London and then went on to work in general practice as a nurse practitioner. She held a prescribing qualification and has written multiple published articles, and has appeared in interviews on both television and radio under her previous role as PCUK’s clinical voice.

Jenny Todd

Jenny joined the Royal Free Charity team in August 2016 to manage the volunteer teams at Barnet, Chase Farm and Royal Free hospitals. Her remit is to support and grow volunteering across our three hospitals 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 including Business in the Community and Plan International UK.