Patron and governing body
HRH The Countess of Wessex
HRH The Countess of Wessex became the Patron of Blind Veterans UK in 2016 taking over the Patronage of the charity from The Queen. As well as Blind Veterans UK, The Countess of Wessex is Patron of over 70 charities and organisations. Each year, Her Royal Highness undertakes hundreds of visits to schools, universities, military bases and charity headquarters in order to learn more about their work, and to highlight it to the wider world.
Colin became the sixth President of Blind Veterans UK in 2017. He served in the Royal Artillery as a driver, gunner and signaller and has been a beneficiary of Blind Veterans UK since 2003 after a serious assault caused his sight loss. He has volunteered and worked for Blind Veterans UK for more than ten years and, amongst other things, leads ‘Project Gemini’, our exchange programme between blind veterans from the UK and USA and more recently South Africa.
Paul Luker CB OBE AFC DL
Paul joined the Council of Blind Veterans UK in 2012 and became our Chairman in 2017. He joined the RAF in 1968, serving until 2006. He trained as a support helicopter pilot and subsequently his flying duties ranged across a wide number of RAF and Army helicopters. After attending the Royal College of Defence Studies, he went on to be Director of Overseas Military Activity at the Ministry of Defence and then Commander of Joint Helicopter Command.
Sarah-Lucie Bashall (nee Watson) is a full time Ophthalmic surgeon working in the NHS in Berkshire. Her specialist interests include conditions of the retina and cataract surgery and she leads the Macula service and is responsible for training junior surgeons. Her clinical role has made her aware of the impact of sight loss as well as being raised by a totally blind mother. Sarah-Lucie is married to an army officer whose own men have returned from conflict with life changing injuries. She joined as a Trustee in 2014.
Sir Mark Poffley KCB OBE
Mark retired from the army in 2018, in the rank of Lieutenant General. He was appointed a Trustee of Blind Veterans UK in March 2017. Throughout his 32 years of service, he completed operational tours in the Balkans, the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and most recently in Iraq. A logistician with management account qualifications, his last post was as Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff responsible for delivering the strategic balance of investment for all three services.
David joined the Council of Blind Veterans UK in March 2016. After studying at the College of Estate Management he qualified as a chartered surveyor. He joined the UK board of a listed property development and investment company before joining a leading UK bank where he became CEO of the Group’s property subsidiary and Group Property Director. Post retirement, David has used his general management and property experience through a number of Board appointments in the private and public sectors.
Liz is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience working on the frontline of national daily newspapers, including The Independent, The Telegraph, Daily Mail and Washington Post in the US. She has been a reporter, specialist health correspondent, feature writer, travel writer, columnist and editor, and a regular contributor to TV and radio. Most recently, she has worked as a senior editor and newspaper executive, and until July 2016 was a Deputy Editor at The Telegraph. Liz is now a Consultant Editor at The Daily Mail.
Malcolm Cree CBE
Malcolm retired from the Royal Navy in 2016, in the rank of Rear Admiral. He served in all types and sizes of ship, from minehunters to aircraft carriers, and commanded a destroyer, a task group in the Gulf and the Navy’s prized operational sea training organisation. He was deployed all over the world and served in the Gulf (Tanker War) and Adriatic. Since retiring, Malcolm has worked for a management consultancy that specialises in decision analysis, and has recently become Chief Executive of the Bar Council. He joined the Council of Trustees in 2016.
Minoo Sahni Court
Minoo joined as a trustee in September 2017 and has been appointed chairperson of the investment committee. She is an investment specialist; most recently as an Executive Director at UBS Wealth management. During her 35 year corporate career, she gained extensive experience in culturally diverse regulatory and operational environments in the UK, US and Middle East. Minoo is also a trustee of MyTime Active, a social enterprise with charitable objective that invests in a range of projects and services to meet the needs of local communities.
A chartered surveyor by profession, James is Chief Executive of JT Leavesley, where he oversees a vast range of commercial activities, including agricultural and property interests. James has just stood down as Vice-Chair of the National Memorial Aboretum’s Fundraising committee after 10 years, during which time the committee secured £15 million of support. James is also a member of the Local Enterprise Partnership Board, a Deputy Lieutenant for Staffordshire and, until recently, was a qualified fixed-wing and rotary pilot, despite being partially sighted.
Lady Nicky Pulford
Nicky trained as a medical secretary and has spent most of her career working for the NHS, local councils and latterly within the Thames Valley Police Force. She is married to a retired Royal Air Force Officer and for the past 35 years has accompanied him around the world. During these years she has been a Vice President of SSAFA and has chaired the RAF High Wycombe SSAFA In-Service Committee. She has served on the RAFA Welfare Committee and has been President of the Air Attache Partners’ Association and the International Club for Air Force Officers’ Wives.
David is a chartered accountant and former senior partner at Ernst & Young, with over 25 years of experience operating at board level. He has been a member of EY’s UK & Ireland Leadership team and has led businesses through critical transformational change programmes. David’s grandfather and father both served in the armed forces, during the First and Second World Wars respectively. David also volunteers as a speaker for Speakers for Schools, a charity that supports state schools to inspire their students and broaden horizons.
Barry’s knowledge of Blind Veterans UK goes back as far as he can remember: his father was supported by St Dunstan’s after losing his sight in 1943, while serving in the Royal Navy. After working as a volunteer for the charity for two years, Barry became a trustee in 2017. He also has extensive experience working as a non-executive for charities, as he is one of the founding Trustees of the Children’s Hospices for the Eastern Region. Barry has also served as Chairman of the national charity Dyslexia Action and is an award-winning architect.
Neelesh is currently Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Group Chief Executive at HSBC Holdings Plc. Neelesh has been with the HSBC Group since 1989 and has undertaken leadership roles in Latin America, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mauritius, India and the U.K. His extensive experience in Financial Services has encompassed Banking Operations, Internal Audit, Human Resources, Strategy and Planning, Credit and Operational risk management, Securities Custody & Clearing, Trade Services and Retail Branch Management.
Alan Holderness served in the Royal Marines in the South Atlantic and Cyprus. On being medically discharged he held various senior posts at the Royal British Legion branch in Blackburn and at regional level. He has served as President for the East Lancashire Royal Marine Association for 25 years and has been Chair of Governors for his local primary school for over 20 years. He has been a serving magistrate since 2003, sitting on the adult and youth benches. Additionally Alan sits with Judges and Recorders at Crown Court on appeals. Alan has been Managing Director of the family manufacturing business since 2000, taking an active participation in running all aspects of the company.
Tim was appointed as trustee in December 2018. He has a strong commercial background, specialising in performance and operational management in highly regulated sectors. As a senior director managing care homes and hospitals for Bupa, Anchor Trust and Barchester, he brings a wealth of health and social care experience. He combines this with 32 years as an Army reservist, currently serving as Deputy Commander in Home Command. Tim is a strong advocate for youth development in his role as Honorary Colonel of the Army Cadet Force in Cambridgeshire.
Chris was appointed as a Trustee of Blind Veterans UK in 2018, and as a blind veteran he has been a member since 2012. Following Registered Nurse training he worked in the Professional Nursing Department at the Royal College of Nursing. He gained qualifications in medical law and employment law moving, in later years, into contract interpretation and dispute resolution, eventually working as Director of Contract Development in the NHS Modernisation Agency at the Department of Health in Whitehall. He became a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, an Accredited Mediator and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators. In the 1970’s he served in the Reserves as an Operating Department Practitioner with 212 Field Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps.