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New Chair and Trustees welcomed to our Board

November 24, 2016

Announced at our AGM and conference on Friday, Action for M.E. is delighted to welcome Jonah Grunsell as our new Chair of the Board of Trustees. Jonah succeeds Alan Cook CBE, who joined Action for M.E. in April 2010.

“I am incredibly proud and honoured to have been selected to be the new Chair for Action for M.E.,” said Jonah, who is Managing Director and Founder of Headadvisory, a third-sector strategy consultancy working with large charity clients in the UK and beyond.

“Alongside my professional experience, I believe I have a variety of relevant skills and expertise that will prove exceptionally useful to Action for M.E. I specialise in developing and delivering organisational strategies in the third sector, with a particular focus on fundraising, communication, advocacy, and working with senior level decision makers and stakeholders worldwide to raise the profile of causes, conditions and campaigns.

“Being a small business owner, I have developed flexibility and resilience – skills that I believe will help Action for M.E. maximise the use of limited funds, while working to grow, evolve and adapt to effectively inform and influence, empower and support, and invest in research to beat this terrible illness. But experience and expertise is not enough to be an effective Chair for Action for M.E.

“I have not directly experienced the pain, the isolation and the multitude of debilitating challenges that people with M.E. and their loved ones face on a daily basis. However, I do not believe that this is a barrier to effectively performing the role of Action for M.E. Chair. If we are to really make a difference to the thousands of individuals with M.E., we must work together to ensure M.E. is more than just a poorly understood condition on the fringes of medicine, research and public awareness.

Mobilising support

“We must mobilise the support of people just like me who are, at least for now, relatively unaffected by it directly or indirectly. We must actively influence and inform decision makers in the UK and globally, engage medical and social care professionals, mobilise resources and educate the general public to build understanding, awareness and commitment.

“By working together in proactive partnership and collaboration, and drawing on the incredible set of experience, skills and expertise of the Action for M.E. team along with the wider M.E. affected community, we can achieve our aims, deliver our strategy and, most importantly, make our vision of a world without M.E. a reality. I am passionately committed to doing everything I can to make that happen.”

Jonah has held senior roles with Accenture, KPMG and the education consultancy ISIC, and worked as a Senior Parliamentary Officer for Scope, and a one-to-one carer for children with severe mental and physical disabilities.

Welcoming three Trustees

Appointed subject to the votes of our Supporting Members, he is joined on the Board by two new Trustees:

  • Sue Hardy, who has had M.E. for 16 years, before which she worked as a nurse and senior lecturer in nursing. She suffered a relapse in 2013, from which she is making a steady recovery. Now medically retired, she works six hours a week at a complementary therapy centre.
  • Gordon Berry, who received a diagnosis of M.E. after 25 years of illness. This led to him being provided with life-changing support. Today he runs a business troubleshooting consultancy, and has held charitable roles as a Trustee and Chair.

Another new Trustee, Matt Symonds, has been appointed for one year by the Board. Matt was introduced to the charity when he attended the Speaker’s House reception at the end of June by our outgoing Chair, Alan Cook. Matt was keen to get involved after he heard about the impact of M.E. and the work the charity does to tackle this.

Matt is a London-based management independent adviser and investor. He was formerly a senior partner at international consulting firm, Bain and Company, where he led the UK Financial Services practice. Matt left Bain to pursue multiple roles in independent business advice, investment, Board roles and his personal interests in art and politics. He remains a Senior Advisor to Bain.

Matt will bring significant business and finance expertise to the Board providing skills and insight to complement those held by existing Trustees and fill the gap left by the retirement of Alan Cook and Lionel Godfrey after their six-year term of office. This was a targeted recruitment which took place after an earlier Trustee recruitment drive did not result in a Trustee being appointed with these skills and insight. As timing did not allow for Matt to undergo our normal Supporting Member vote before the AGM, Matt is only being appointed for one year when he will undergo the usual voting by our Supporting Members.