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.

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.”

Alistair Summers

Alistair is an entrepreneur with 30 years’ experience in running and advising businesses in areas as diverse as coffee roasting, turbine blade coating and technical cleaning. He is a chartered accountant and a partner in his practice.

Alistair is a trustee of both the Prince’s Trust and Prince’s Trust International and sat on the board of the National Youth Theatre and St Paul’s School, London. He is a joint founder trustee of the Accelerate and Access Foundation, a charity supporting children from deprived backgrounds to attend university.

“I have lived almost all my life within sight of the Royal Free and it saved the life of my son after a serious accident,” said Alistair. “I am therefore passionate in supporting the hospital and staff who do so much to help others when they need it most.”