Patron and governing body

HRH The Countess of Wessex

Patron

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.

General The Lord Richards

General The Lord Richards GCB CBE DSO DL

Vice Patron

General The Lord Richards has a distinguished and decorated military career. At the pinnacle of his service he was Chief of the General Staff; Head of the British Army and subsequently Chief of the Defence Staff, the Professional Head of the Armed Forces. In 2014 he was created a Life Peer. Lord Richards opened our Llandudno Centre in 2013.

Russell Foster CBE

Russell Foster CBE

Vice Patron

Russell Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and Director of the Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute and Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. He is a Fellow at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford. Russell is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Academy of Medical Sciences and Royal Society of Biology. His research spans basic and applied circadian, sleep and photoreceptor biology. Russell has a particular interest in our research plans which will benefit blind veterans and the broader community suffering sight loss.

Viscount Chelsea DL

Viscount Chelsea DL

Vice Patron

Viscount Chelsea, is the Chairman of Cadogan. He served in the RAF from 1987 until 1998, and in 2002 joined his local Territorial Army regiment, the 51st Highland Regiment becoming Commanding Officer of 7SCOTS in 2010, until 2012. His strong military background provides a strong connection to the veterans that the charity supports.

Colin Williamson

President

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 over 15 years and leads Project Gemini, our exchange programme between blind veterans from the UK, USA and South Africa. By virtue of being President, Colin also serves as a Trustee.

Trustee, Barry Coupe

Barry Coupe

Chairman

Barry’s father was supported by us after losing his sight in 1943 while in the Royal Navy. After volunteering for us for two years, he became a trustee in 2017. He has worked as a non-executive for charities, and is a founding trustee of the Children’s Hospice for the Eastern Region in Cambridge. He was a school governor for 15 years and is an award-winning architect.

David Turner

Vice Chairman

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 worked in property consultancy before joining the UK board of a listed property development and investment company. Later he joined 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.

Malcolm Cree CBE

Trustee

Malcolm retired from the Royal Navy in 2016, in the rank of Rear Admiral. He served in all types and sizes of ship, from minesweepers to aircraft carriers, and commanded variously a destroyer, a task force 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 is CEO of the Bar Council having previously worked for a management consultancy that specialises in decision analysis.

Sir Mark Poffley KCB OBE

Trustee

Mark was appointed a Trustee of Blind Veterans UK in March 2017 and left the Army as a Lieutenant General in 2018. He was Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff responsible for delivering the strategic balance of investment for all three services and is a logistician with management account qualifications. In his 32 years of service, he completed operational tours in the Balkans, the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and most recently in Iraq. Mark is currently working in various consultancy roles.

Guy Davies

Trustee

Since leaving the Army, Guy has spent over 20 years as a charity investment manager. He has been a Trustee of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, is a Trustee of The Army Central Fund, chairs the Advisory Committee of The BlackRock Armed Forces Growth and Income Fund, and Secretary of the Charity Investors Group. Guy co-founded Yoke & Co, which offers financial governance advice to charities, and established the Charity Intelligence, a free and independent website for charities to provide professional advice.

Trustee, Nicky Pulford

Lady Nicky Pulford

Trustee

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 and is currently a Parish Councillor.

Trustee, Neelesh Heredia

Neelesh Heredia

Trustee

Neelesh is currently Chief of Staff in the Office of the Regional Chief Executive for Europe; the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey; Latin America; Canada 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, Retail Branch Management and Chief of Staff roles and responsibilities.

Jamie Cuthbertson

Trustee

Jamie studied mechanical engineering at the University of Glasgow before joining the Army in 1982. In 1986, he was blinded in an explosives accident while serving as a Captain in the Royal Engineers. He rehabilitated with Blind Veterans UK, before gaining an MSc in information technology. Jamie worked for charities for the blind for nearly 20 years, before running his own computer consultancy.

Photo of Alan Holderness

Alan Holderness

Trustee

Alan 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. Alan joined as Trustee in 2018 and as a blind veteran has been a Member since 2006.

Photo of Tim Seal

Tim Seal

Trustee

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 34 years as an Army reservist, currently serving as Deputy Commander, 1st (UK) Division. Tim is a strong advocate for youth development in his role as Honorary Colonel of the Army Cadet Force in Cambridgeshire and was appointed to serve as High Sheriff of the county in April 2020.

Ian Sherriff

Ian Sherriff BEM

Trustee

Ian has been connected with the charity since 1975. He served in the Fleet Air Arm for 25 years. Ian is a lecturer and researcher into dementia at The University of Plymouth Faculty of Health. Ian was a trustee for six years for the Alzheimer’s Society and has been the national chair of the Prime Minister's Air Transport Dementia Group and the Prime Minister's rural Dementia Challenge Group since 2015. He also chairs a global group on dementia. Ian has been successful in obtaining significant research grants and travels extensively around the world giving lectures and sharing cross-country knowledge in the field of dementia. Ian is a trustee of Bravo Victor.

Clare Hayes

Trustee

Clare worked as a civil servant from 1993 to 2021, in the Department for Work and Pensions, Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice. She held senior roles in areas including pension reform, change programmes, organisational design and reviews, departmental governance, devolution and legal services. Clare has also worked on secondment in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham children’s services department.