Our Trustees | Cruse Bereavement Care

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The Cruse Board of Trustees of a charity have legal responsibility for our charity’s management and administration. Our trustees are all volunteers who give up their time to help us run Cruse, and have a broad range of experience and expertise.


Sir Tony Hawkhead - Chair

Tony has had a long and successful CEO record in national charities for more than 25 years, including with Action for Children from 2014-18 and Groundwork UK, which delivers a range of environmental regeneration, employment and training schemes in England and Wales. Tony is currently the Independent Vice Chair for the Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, leading on children’s services, strategy and culture and public engagement. He has also been a Non-Executive Director (NED) with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and chaired the Department of Work and Pensions Voluntary Sector Welfare to Work Task Force in 2007-2008 on third sector involvement in welfare to work schemes. He was the only volunteer sector member of the UK National Advisory Board on Social Investment, 2016-17, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister to report on how to boost impact-focussed investment. Tony received the CBE in 2003 and was knighted in 2011 for charitable services to environmental regeneration. 

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Michael Whitehouse OBE - Hon Treasurer

Michael was Chief Operating Officer of the National Audit Office until April 2017 and now has a portfolio of non-executive directorships  including the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency and the South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust. An accountant and auditor by profession, he has had responsibility throughout his career for numerous public sector portfolios, including the Health, Education, Social Welfare, Housing, Defence, Diplomatic Service and International Aid sectors. As an NAO director, he developed the NAO’s work on cross government systemic issues, which is now a well-established feature of the NAO brand. Michael chairs Cruse's Board of Trustees' Audit and Finance Committee

Letizia Perna - Vice Chair, Safeguarding Lead

Letizia is currently the Head of Patient and Family Support at Royal Trinity Hospice in London. Letizia has previously worked as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist working with patients, family members/friends, and children around issues of grief and loss both at Royal Trinity Hospice and at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Centre in New York City. Letizia has over fourteen years’ experience in the non-profit/third sector as a clinician, clinical supervisor and educator. She is passionate about mental health issues and mental wellbeing and advocates for an end to mental health stigma and discrimination. She has vast experience of developing services and of working with volunteers within the charity sector. Letizia is a member of the London End of Life Clinical Leadership Group and is the Vice Chair of the Association of Bereavement Service Coordinators (ABSCo). Letizia is passionate about mental health issues and mental wellbeing and advocates for an end to mental health stigma and discrimination.   She is also interested in cultural change management with a particular focus on equality, diversity and inclusion. Letizia chairs the Board of Trustees' Appointments and Remuneration Committee

Mo Bradley - Vice Chair, Network and Cruse Council

Mo Bradley has worked in the care, support and housing sectors for all of her career. Until 2018 she was chief executive of a Housing Association providing care, support and housing to older adults and those with complex needs and sensory loss. Her previous role was as a director of care and support, leading the department through both a substantial growth and change agenda. After retiring Mo joined Birmingham Area’s Management Committee and is currently the Area Chair and also the Training Co-ordinator for the West Midlands Region.  Mo is also training to become a Bereavement Volunteer. Mo has a keen interest in governance which includes all those involved in both delivering as well as receiving the service. 

Nilufar Anwar - Trustee

Nilufar is Senior Corporate Counsel at Salesforce, a leading technology company, with board-level experience at both private and public companies. Nilufar was previously Chair of the Board of #techmums, an award-winning social enterprise that empowers mums, their families and communities through teaching key technology skills. She is ranked at #3 in the Yahoo! Finance and HERoes Top 50 Future Women Leaders 2019 in recognition of her advocacy and leadership on tackling gender equality issues.  Nilufar is a keen advocate for the use of technology to support Cruse by empowering its volunteers and connecting with the people it supports on a personal level. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion and regularly speaks at conferences on gender equality, diversity and inclusivity.

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Paul Butler - Trustee

Paul Butler is is currently the Chief Executive of Selby Trust in Haringey, chair of FE College in East London and Board member of Locality.. Paul has been a chief executive and director within the community and voluntary sector, central government and regeneration and education sectors for over 25 years. He has extensive experience of post-16 provision and community development. He has worked with a range of regeneration agencies and employers within the public and private sectors nationally to provide career and professional training, enterprise, education and business development opportunities for disadvantaged and disenfranchised groups and local communities, and has also worked on a parliamentary cross-party group on employment and inclusion and is a former Acas Council member.

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Helen Causley - Trustee

Helen is Deputy Branch Head of the Quality, Patient Safety and Investigations Branch in the Department of Health and Social Care. She leads a great team who are helping to improve patient safety in the NHS through establishing a new independent safety investigation body, supporting NHS staff to raise concerns, improving medicines safety and overseeing high profile investigations. Helen is passionate about improving health and making care more compassionate, and her career’s been dedicated to solving key challenges for the NHS. Helen was a bereavement volunteer for Greenwich Cruse before becoming a Trustee of Cruse Bereavement Care in 2015. Helen brings to Cruse an excellent understanding of government policy and health service strategy and delivery together with experience of bereavement work.    

Tina Challacombe - Trustee

Tina has been a volunteer for Cruse Bereavement Care for over 30 years. She started as a committee member with Greenwich Cruse, becoming Area Chair in 1998 and then REM for the South East Region, representing the Region on Cruse Council. Tina was a General Practitioner for nearly 40 years in Greenwich, during which time her special interests were in teaching and training, mental health and care of older people, and Clinical Governance. Tine sees her role as a link between the Cruse Board Trustees and the Bereavement Volunteers, with an emphasis on improving communication and understanding both at Board level and volunteer level about the issues and challenges Cruse faces.

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Poppy Mardall - Trustee

Poppy Mardall is a multi award-winning, progressive funeral director who quit her job as a Deputy Director at Sotheby’s auction house to revolutionise the funeral trade. Beyond her day-to-day work as a funeral director, Poppy sees it as her mission to get people talking about death, dying and bereavement, and to educate people about their options at the end of their lives, in the belief that to be informed is to be empowered. Poppy is a former Samaritan and Trinity Hospice volunteer. Poppy's work has been featured in The Times, The Independent, The Daily Mail, Newsweek, Tatler, Cosmopolitan and Stylist among other titles. She has made television and radio appearances including on BBC Breakfast, BBC Woman's Hour, You and Yours, BBC London and LBC.

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Gerard Jacques - Trustee, Whistleblowing Lead

Gerard is currently Director of People at Eurostar International Limited. He is a member of the Executive Management Group, with full people strategy responsibility for every aspect of Human Resources across the UK and European operation. Previously Gerard has held a number of Senior HR roles in a number of sectors including Head of HR at Gatwick Airport, Head of HR Operations at Premier Foods. Gerard completed a short assignment as NED for Hill Homes, a small organisation which provides extra care supported accommodation, combining retirement housing with care and support. Additionally, he is a volunteer for Crisis. He is excited to be part of the Cruse story, to share his knowledge, experience and direction with Cruse, working to ensure that the charity meets it vision in terms of care for its clients and colleagues. 

Andy McWilliams - Trustee

Andy is an experienced multi-channel retailer and has worked at Director level for a number of major retailers including Ocado.com, House of Fraser and Home Retail Group. He provides senior board level consultancy and interim support for those organisations seeking to maximise their eCommerce and customer service operations and has recently led a digital transformation programme for The Royal Institute of Surveyors and Evans Cycles. In addition, he is an experienced Non-Executive Director and is a Board Member for Wandle Housing Association and Transport for London Museum. He is committed to the purpose of Cruse supporting those bereaved and their families, and is looking forward to joining the team in 2021.

Mary O'Hagan - Trustee

Mary is currently Fundraising Director at Mencap, a charity supporting people with a learning disability across the UK. She has been working in fundraising and sales roles for more than 14 years and has proven experience of leading teams to transform income in a number of charities. She is passionate about enhancing the performance and ambitions of teams within the charity sector, so they can achieve even greater impact. Mary looks forward to joining Cruse Bereavement Care at a time when their vital support is needed more than ever.  

Lei Wei - Trustee

Lei comes from a medical background and is a qualified accountant and project manager. She is currently working as Director of Finance at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.  Before joining NHS, Lei spent over six years with PricewaterhouseCoopers London, working on audit and assurance reviews across a wide range of commercial and public sector clients.  Lei is passionate about delivering real health and well-being improvement for communities, and is a keen campaigner of diversity and inclusion in public services. 

Angela Gannon - Trustee

Angela has spent her career working in Social Services for Adults and has many years of professional experience at executive level within the Health and Social Care sector. This involved numerous roles, including Assistant Director of Social Services and latterly as Director of Health and Social Care Integration. Upon retirement in 2011, Angela joined Cruse as a volunteer with the Cambridge Area and was elected as the Regional representative to Council in 2017. Angela cares deeply that Cruse should provide first class and equitable bereavement services for service users through appropriately trained and supported volunteers and is looking forward to working towards the implementation of the Bereaved People First strategy.