About us

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Our staff team

Who we are

Our small, dedicated staff team, are supported by around 70 volunteers, working with us in our Keynsham and Scotland offices and at home to deliver our vital services. The majority of our Board of Trustees have had M.E. themselves, and most of the remainder have experienced it as carers.

Chief Executive

Sonya Chowdhury, pictured above, took over as Chief Executive of Action for M.E. in September 2012.

Following Sonya’s appointment, Action for M.E. carried out a full root and branch review of its activities, which precipitated publication of a bold and ambitious agenda for change. This led to increased transparency and clarity for the charity, which contributed to a shift to increased collaboration with stakeholders at every level. She says:

"People with M.E. are at the heart of everything we do. Our purpose is to end the ignorance, injustice and neglect experienced by people with M.E. We do this by meeting need now while taking action to secure change for the future. We have identified a number of challenges that continue to exist for people affected by M.E. Everything we do is in service of achieving three goals, which we call our strategic touchstones, to tackle these challenges: IMPROVE the lives of people with M.E., INSPIRE action at all levels, and INVEST in change."

Prior to joining Action for M.E., Sonya worked in senior management roles for leading children’s charity Barnardo’s where she was Head of Business Support for two days a week and National Lead for the Family Strategic Partnership for the remaining three. Sonya co-pioneered the ‘Innovating Futures’ programme which used a newly-created business generation model to help advance the practice of voluntary sector leaders.

Sonya chairs the Management and PPI Groups for DecodeME, the world's largest M.E./CFS DNA study, which launched in June 2020.

Chief Operating Officer

Shane Davies joined Action for M.E. in January 2023. He said:

“As COO at Action for M.E., I am deeply invested in the organisation's mission of improving the lives of those affected by this debilitating illness. My commitment to this cause, coupled with my experience in operations management, drives my determination to ensure that the charity operates at the highest level of efficiency, allowing us to maximize our efforts and help as many people as possible. I am honoured to be a part of this team and to have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those struggling with M.E."

With over 25 years of experience in operational delivery, project management, and strategic leadership, Shane is an accomplished and transformational leader with an integrity driven approach to service provision. As a chartered manager and fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, Shane has successfully led complex continuous improvement programs across large public sector, FTSE250 commercial, and small business turnaround environments. Shane brings that experience to bear at Action for M.E. to ensure that the organisation makes the very most of every donated pound, and consistently delivers the best possible support to those who need it.

Director of Fundraising and Development

Ruth Richardson joined Action for M.E. in July 2019.

Ruth has held senior leadership roles in the VCSE sector since 2010, including seven years working at Age UK Bristol where she managed a city-wide strategic programme to reduce loneliness and isolation in later life, securing £6 million of lottery funding and leading the dissemination of this funding to local community groups. Before joining Action for M.E., Ruth was Deputy Chief Executive of a community interest company, working with underrepresented groups to increase their access to health and wellbeing activities, and for six years served on the Board of Trustees of a local women’s organisation.

Head of Healthcare Services

In June 2023, Rebecca Davies joined Action for M.E. as Head of Healthcare Services.

With over twenty years’ experience in healthcare, in both the NHS and private sector, her expertise lies in managing patient services and optimising the overall patient journey and experience.

Having been diagnosed with M.E./CFS during her late teens, Rebecca has now made a full recovery.

With her unwavering enthusiasm and dedication to making a difference, her key role and main focus is to ensure that Action for M.E.’s Healthcare Services are delivered safely and are providing the best possible experience for all individuals impacted by M.E./CFS.

Our staff team

Our staff care passionately about people affected by M.E. We have daily contact with people with M.E., carers, and professionals by phone, email, and online. We also host and take part in events, conferences and workshops across the UK.

Working at home across the UK and from our office in Keynsham, our staff work a range of full and part-time hours. As of November 2022, we employ the full-time equivalent of 28.75 people.

Information, support and advocacy

  • Clare Ogden, Head of Support Services
  • Imogen Ward, Information and Support Supervisor
  • Juliet Gilchrist, Information and Support Officer
  • Anna Pearce, Information and Support Officer
  • Sally Ulph, Information and Support Officer
  • Karen Hoather, Information and Support Officer
  • Elizabeth Gough, Information and Support Officer
  • Avril McLean, Projects & Participation Senior Practitioner
  • Carina Fordham, Adult's Advocate
  • Keely Amor, Family Support Officer
  • Sam Agombar, Children and Young Person's Peer-Support Officer
  • Lucy Cheesman, Communications and Engagement Officer

Healthcare Services

  • Rebecca Davies, Head of Healthcare Services
  • Helen Hall, Administrator, Healthcare Services
  • Hannah Walbyoff, Young People's Counsellor
  • Caroline Simm, Young People's Counsellor

Communications and public affairs

  • Josh Vince, Head of Communications and Marketing
  • Lauren Tugwell, Communications and Marketing Officer
  • Sian Leary, Head of Advocacy and Communications at the World ME Alliance

Research, policy and participation

  • Claire Dransfield, Research Manager
  • Ella Ponting, DecodeME Media and Content Support Worker


  • Ruth Richardson, Director of Fundraising and Development
  • Vic Lawrence, Breakthrough Board Lead
  • Lizzie Packham, Fundraising Operations Manager
  • Helen Rowlands, Trusts Fundraising Manager
  • Petra-Jurik (PJ) Dracovich, Trust Fundraising Officer
  • Briony Fisher, Volunteer and Community Officer
  • Isabel Simpson, Fundraising Officer
  • Michelle Smart, Data Administrator
  • Leah Martindale, Fundraising and Membership Officer

Business Support

  • Kate Dobson, Finance Manager
  • Phoebe Dando, Finance Administrator
  • Charlotte Wells, HR Business Partner