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.

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.

Yusuf Firat

Yusuf joined the charity in September 2021. Yusuf qualified as a chartered certified accountant in local government and worked for the Audit Commission before moving into the charity sector in 2001. His experience includes children’s charities, animal welfare, social housing and the health sector. He has led the finance, IT, HR, procurement, trading operations, property and facilities in a number of organisations.

For a period of time, he ran the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance. He oversaw the finances of Caxton Foundation, MacFarland Trust, Skipton Fund and Eileen Trust, all of which support people who have contracted HIV, Hep C through contaminated blood transfusion. Yusuf also worked as a consultant for a number of years. His health charity experience includes the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as well as the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, where he is currently a co-opted member on their audit committee.

A strong advocate of equality and social justice, Yusuf thrives on building relationships, collaboration and adding value. He is a keen runner, an England Athletics qualified run leader and a volunteer in the running community. He is a keen ambassador for running, high impact physical activity, and uses running as a tool to bring people together.

Alison Kira

Alison joined the charity in 2014 with responsibility for establishing the charity at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals, and since has worked on developing a number of projects from research stage to established workstreams. She now has responsibility for business planning and strategy ensuring the aims of the charity are aligned with the needs of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. Alison has more than 20 years’ experience in the charity sector and has previously held project management and service delivery management roles.

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.

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.

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.

Laura James

Laura joined the charity in February 2022 as the interim director of services to maintain and grow the reach of our services teams across the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, supporting as many people as possible so they can access direct services through complementary therapy, the support hub, and our volunteer team.

She 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 also happens to be a qualified nurse and maintains an up-to-date nursing registration. 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 also holds 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 the Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm. 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.