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Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference 2021 speakers

Graham Hooper, The Charity for Civil Servants

Graham Hooper

Graham became Chief Executive of The Charity for Civil Servants in 2015.

Following an early venture into sports marketing, he’d previously enjoyed a 23-year career in the Civil Service before running a consultancy and working for a wide range of public and private sector clients, tackling the broadest spectrum of behavioural challenges and strategic business issues.

An experienced senior civil servant, some of Graham’s key roles included Head of Marketing for the Home Office, Head of Corporate Communications for the Cabinet Office and acting as Joint Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI) where he was responsible for over 400 staff.

Sarah Healey

Sarah Healey

Sarah has been Permanent Secretary of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) since April 2019.

Prior to this, she worked in the Cabinet Office where she was the Director General overseeing the development and implementation of economic and domestic policy following two and a half years working on negotiations and preparations for the UK to leave the EU. Before that, Sarah was Director General in DCMS, where she led on integrating all digital responsibilities into the organisation, Director of Private Pensions at the Department for Work and Pensions and Director of Education Funding and of Strategy at the Department for Education.

Sarah joined the Civil Service in 2001 to work in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. She has degrees from Magdalen College, Oxford, and the LSE.

Rupert McNeil

Rupert McNeilRupert McNeil was appointed Government Chief People Officer on 1 January 2016, joining the Civil Service from Lloyds Banking Group, where he was the Group HR Director. As Government Chief People Officer, Rupert is responsible for delivery of the Civil Service People Strategy, which sets out what the Civil Service needs to do to attract the most capable and public-spirited people, and build a culture and ways of working that are as good, if not better, than anything on offer anywhere else.

Rupert graduated in Politics and Philosophy from St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. He attended Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 2010. He began his career at the Confederation of British Industry before becoming a partner at Arthur Anderson and Deloitte. Since then he has worked for Barclays Bank plc, and at Aviva where he was HR Director and then HR Centre of Expertise Director.

Adam Land

Adam LandAdam Land is a senior director at the Competition and Markets Authority, where he leads the Remedies, Business and Financial analysis professional group. In this capacity, he oversees the development, implementation and enforcement of market interventions across the range of the CMA’s activities. Prior to the formation of the CMA in 2014, Adam worked in a variety of roles in the CMA’s predecessor bodies, as well as at HM Treasury. Adam is the CMA’s senior mental health champion and has been leading a Civil Service project on Bereavement and Loss. Adam recently took over the role as Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Senior Steering Group. The Group combines expertise and action to deliver health, wellbeing and attendance management priorities across the Civil Service.

Kathryn Al-Shemmeri

Kathryn Al-Shemmeri

Kathryn was appointed as the Executive Director of Civil Service HR Expert Services in November 2020. She first joined the Civil Service Fast Stream in July 2002 and has held a number of roles within the Cabinet Office, HM Revenue and Customs, and HM Treasury.

Kathryn reports directly to the Government Chief People Officer and is a member of the HR Function Board, CSHR Executive Committee, and HR Sub Profession Group.

She attended Victoria College Belfast, and graduated in Modern History with Politics from The Queen’s University, Belfast. Kathryn is married with two children.

Jonathan Garner

Jonathan Garner

Jonathan is the founder and CEO of Mind over Tech which helps people embrace technology with intention. He created the company as a response to observing how the business world is undergoing rapid digital transformation but failing to educate their people how to embrace these new technologies in a way which protects their wellbeing, productivity and creativity.

Mind over Tech delivers Digital Wellbeing training and programmes for organisations such as KPMG, Vodafone, Google, Natwest Group, Kellogg and The Crown Prosecution Service.

Jonathan draws on a number of his previous career roles including: six years designing and delivering workshops to educate senior leadership teams about disruptive technologies such as Machine Learning, Innovation process and Blockchain; ten years as web developer and UX designer and ten years as a mindfulness instructor.

Georgie Powell

Georgie Powell

Georgie is the Founder of Sentient Digital, a Responsible Technology and Digital Wellbeing Consultancy, working with organisations to build strategies and products which have a positive impact on their teams and the world.

Georgie was an early pioneer in digital wellbeing, as CEO and co-founder of one of the first screentime apps, SPACE. This came following first a career in strategy consulting and then at Google, where she led YouTube Australia and New Zealand's partnership business. Georgie now works with researchers and practitioners around the world to better understand the relationship between technology and humans. She is a recognised expert and speaker on Digital Wellbeing, committed to helping millions of people consciously connect with technology.

Sir Anthony Seldon, Action for Happiness

Sir Anthony SeldonVice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham since 2015, Anthony is one of Britain’s leading contemporary historians, educationalists, commentators and political authors.

He was a transformative head for 20 years, first of Brighton College and then Wellington College. He is author or editor of over 40 books on contemporary history, including the inside books on the last four Prime Ministers, was the co-founder and first director of the Institute for Contemporary British History, is co-founder of Action for Happiness, honorary historical adviser to 10 Downing Street, UK Special Representative for Saudi Education, a member of the Government’s First World War Culture Committee, was chair of the Comment Awards, is a director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the President of IPEN, (International Positive Education Network), Chair of the National Archives Trust, is patron or on the board of several charities, founder of the Via Sacra Western Front Walk, and was executive producer of the film Journey’s End. He appeared on the Desert Island Discs in 2016. For the last fifteen years he has given all his money from writing and lecturing to charity.

He has three children; his wife of 34 years, Joanna, died of cancer in December 2016.

Baby Loss Support Group

Baby Loss Support Group logoThe Baby Loss Support Group has been set up to help and support anyone that has been affected by pregnancy loss or the death of a baby. The group welcomes all and can be used as a forum to talk about pregnancy loss and the death of a baby, and how you have been affected by it.


Christopher Robertson, Don't Tone Alone

Christopher RobertsonChristopher Robertson founded Don't Tone Alone CIC (DTA) in 2014. After completing his MSc in Health and Community, leading various project teams, and consulting for national charities, Christopher decided to fuse his qualifications and experiences in the health and fitness industry with that of charity, and health and social care, to form DTA – an organisation with the desire to make a substantial difference in the lives of those who are less able to access mainstream services, who struggle hardest to look after their wellbeing, and who need compassionate, yet expert guidance and support. Blending quality health and fitness instruction with social care, committed to sustainable development, DTA is the embodiment of empathy, innovation, and inclusion.

Joshua French, Bailey and French

Joshua FrenchJoshua is a personal development expert dedicated to helping people lead increasingly meaningful and rewarding lives. A founder of Bailey and French, he has over 15 years’ experience creating and facilitating positive learning environments that accelerate personal and team growth. He is fascinated by the psychology of play and the evidence that shows that approaching our work and life from a playful perspective is wildly beneficial. This love for a playful approach characterises his facilitation style and OD work on wellbeing and performance.

Myrtle Lloyd

Myrtle Lloyd

Myrtle joined HMRC as Director General for Customer Services in February 2021. She has overall responsibility for delivering Tax, Customs, Debt and Benefit support services to individuals, families and small/mid-sized businesses. She is also HMRC’s well-being champion. Prior to this Myrtle was the Chief Operating Officer for Her Majesty’s Passport Office and Registrar General for England and Wales.

Myrtle has over 20 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in programme delivery, strategy, IT and operational delivery in both public and private sectors in the UK, North America and Asia. She is based in HMRC’s Liverpool regional hub and lives in Chester with her husband Ian and their 13-year old son Alfred.

Simon Blake

Simon BlakeSimon Blake, OBE, joined MHFA England as Chief Executive in October 2018, leading the organisation to achieve its vision of normalising society’s attitudes and behaviours around mental health, through training one in ten of the population in mental health skills and awareness. He is Chair of the Dying Matters Campaign based at Hospices UK, the Support After Suicide Partnership based at the Samaritans and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute. In 2020 he was named as a Global Diversity Leader. He is a writer, campaigner and trainer and was awarded an OBE for services to the voluntary sector and young people in 2011. He enjoys running, equestrian eventing and walking his dog.

Chris Murray

Chris MurrayChris Murray has worked in DWP for 24 years. In that time Chris spent over 24 years living with Mental Health conditions and in 2016 was suicidal, following which he was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and OCD, and has since been assessed and receives treatment for bipolar type 2.

Since diagnosis Chris has been working tirelessly to raise awareness and share his personal story to help create a safer culture and help others recognise signs and symptoms in themselves and others; giving individuals the confidence to ask for help by helping break the stigma around Mental Health.

Chris is a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) and licenced MHFA instructor, Suicide First Aid Instructor and qualified Mental Health support worker. In DWP, Chris and a colleague trained 1,600 MHFAs from 2018 to 2020.

He is very passionate about diversity, inclusion, equality and wellbeing and believes everyone should have access to the help and support they need. As a gay man he is particularly passionate about supporting and raising awareness, and works closely with the LGBTQIA+ community.

Chris runs his own Mental Health consultancy business working across private, public and voluntary sectors. He works with MHFA England as an associate, is an ambassador for The Movember Foundation UK (which works to stop men dying too young from Prostate and Testicular cancer and Mental Health), and is Accessibility Community Engagement Manager for Pride in London.

Chris enjoys long walks with his border collie Cooper, sports, music and travel.

Sophie Blakemore

Sophie BlakemoreSophie is 14 and has just entered Year 10 to start working towards her GCSE's.

Sophie struggled with OCD for several years during what was a difficult and emotional time for her and her family. Now, with her OCD under control, Sophie wants to talk about her experiences to help others.

Sophie loves sport, reading and music and when she is not being an adrenaline junkie with her dad, she plays junior girls rugby at Ormskirk Rugby Club.

Olivia Rutherford

Olivia RutherfordOlivia Rutherford works in the International Strategy Division in DWP as an International Policy Advisor. Before joining the Civil Service, she reported for a human rights NGO in Colombia and was part of the Editorial Team at Resource Media, a strategic communications agency championing sustainability in the resources and waste sector.

In her spare time she enjoys writing spoken word poetry, hiking and speaking Spanish.

She is an advocate for improving mental health and following from her ongoing experience with OCD is keen to bring awareness to the condition.

Leigh Wallbank, CEO OCD Action

Leigh Wallbank

Leigh has nearly 20 years’ experience in the voluntary and statutory sectors. She has held a number of senior leadership roles in national mental health charities and is proud to lead OCD Action’s team of staff and volunteers.

She is passionate about increasing awareness of OCD as she believes there is a long way to travel before OCD is properly understood and everyone impacted by OCD has access to the right treatment at the right time.

Leigh is pleased to have an opportunity to work with Civil Service colleagues to raise awareness of OCD, how it can impact people and the treatments available.

Catherine Webb

Catherine WebbCatherine is the lead on strategic operational issues and services for the Treasury Group. She has oversight of people issues, and technology, building, security, and transactional services. Catherine is the SRO for three major change projects that the Treasury is currently delivering – the new economic campus in Darlington; the transition to hybrid working where our staff work 50-60% of the time in the office and the remainder at home; and delivery of the new diversity, inclusion and belonging action plan. In her role, Catherine is responsible with the Finance Director for running the Corporate Centre Group, which comprises around 200 staff based in 1 Horse Guards Road and Norwich. Catherine worked at HM Treasury from 2000-2011 before returning to the Department in January 2019. Prior to her return, was a Director in the Europe Unit at the Cabinet Office and part of the senior team which set up DExEU as a new department in 2016. Before that Catherine was Counsellor at the British Embassy in Beijing (2011-15).

Rachel Cashman, Soircas

Rachel CashmanRachel Cashman is a specialist in psychological safety, wellbeing and resilience at work. She works with executives, leaders and teams to support sustainable and healthy high performance, backed by international research and supported by world leading experts. In a consultancy and coaching market that is based on complex academic research and measurement tools, clients come to Rachel for her real-world insight and varied frontline experience – as a nursing home healthcare assistant, hospital board member, government advisor and coach for corporate leaders – all of which define her very unique and empathic approach to putting the theory of psychological safety and wellbeing at work into practice. During the Covid-19 pandemic Rachel, worked with world leading psychological safety expert, Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School to support 81 NHS and Local Authority Chief Executives through an Action Learning Set “Psychologically Safe Leadership 2020/21”. Rachel has also received accredited training in applying the world’s first psychological safety at work standard – ISO 45003 – launched by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in July 2021. She has recently completed the British Psychological Society accredited “Neuroscience Leadership Development Programme” with leading UK neuroscientist and psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw.

Julia Samuel MBE, Grief Works

Julia SamuelJulia is a Vice President of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and UK’s leading grief expert. Julia has spent the last thirty years of her career in psychotherapy supporting bereaved families at St. Mary’s Hospital and now in private practice. She is the Founder Patron of Child Bereavement UK and was awarded an MBE for her services to bereaved children. She is the author of two bestselling books on grief, Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass, and has launched an app for grief this year.

Andrew Berrie, Mind

Andrew BerrieAndrew Berrie is Mental Health at Work National Lead at Mind, the mental health charity.

He supports the ambitions of the Thriving at Work Leadership Council in driving employer action across the UK and oversees delivery of the Mental Health at Work website and Mental Health at Work Commitment.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment is a simple framework for organisations to improve and support the mental health of their people. It builds on what we know: based on the Thriving at Work standards, pulling from the pledges and standards that are already out there, using up-to-date research, from UK employers and mental health experts. To date over 1,000 organisations have signed the Commitment.

Over the last three years Andrew has led the Time to Change Employers Programme, Blue Light (Emergency Services) Programme, Mentally Healthy Universities Programme and Mind’s work with the Midlands Engine Mental Health Productivity Pilot supporting a wide range of organisations of varying size, across multiple sectors and across the UK.

He is passionate about working with organisations to develop their wellbeing and mental health programmes, campaigns and initiatives and the role of communications as a catalyst for social change.

Emma Mamo, Mind

Emma MamoEmma is currently Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind. Emma joined Mind in 2007 and, since 2010, has led Mind’s campaigning for mentally healthy workplaces – playing a pivotal role in thought leadership to position mental health in the workplace as a key priority for employers and Government.

Emma has led culture change through engagement with employers, health and safety professionals, HR audiences and Government on mental health in the workplace and back-to-work support for people with mental health problems. She also supports networks of employers and stakeholders to share best practice and develop business-to-business peer support.

Emma’s prior role at Mind was as Policy and Campaigns Manager of the Social Inclusion and Rights team, leading on promoting social inclusion and upholding the human rights of people with mental health problems across the following areas: employment; benefits and welfare reform; debt and poverty; access to the criminal justice system; and equality and discrimination law. During this time, Emma led Mind’s successful national campaigns ‘Taking care of business: mental health at work’ and ‘In the red: debt and mental health’, both achieving awards and recognition for impact and innovation.

Emma has worked in the disability sector since 2005 and previously worked for Mencap, the learning disability charity.

Chetna Bhatt

Chetna BhattAs well as being a part time senior lawyer at GLD, Chetna is a certified executive coach and speaker. As Co-founder of Being Lawyers, Chetna has co-hosted wellbeing conferences with the Law Society and spoken at various events including the Women Economic Forum, JLD Annual Conference and the Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference. She has, since 2013, been helping individuals access mental clarity by sharing a new understanding of the mind so that they can thrive without compromising their wellbeing.

Andrew Hebson, The Charity for Civil Servants

Andrew HebsonAndrew has worked as a Caring, Wellbeing and Health Officer for The Charity for Civil Servants for three years and has a background in Sport, Exercise Science and Psychology.

He has spent most of his career working in the charity sector, supporting project work for Macmillan Cancer Support, Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, NHS Scotland and a range of other organisations.


Jane Goodwin, The Charity for Civil Servants

Jane Goodwin

Jane has worked as an Area Services Manager for The Charity for Civil Servants for the past six years, specialising in money advice.

Prior to this, she worked in the not for profit sector, most recently as a Money Advice Casework Supervisor for Citizens Advice Greenwich.


Emma Slaven, Acas

Emma SlavenEmma started working for Acas in 2013 and has worked in a diverse range of roles within the organisation. These include Conciliator, Mediator and Senior Advisor. This has allowed her to build up a comprehensive knowledge of employment law, best practice, workplace conflicts and tribunals.

Emma specialises in mental health and wellbeing and has worked closely with a large number of private and public sector organisations to help them introduce and implement wellbeing strategies.

Emma is currently a Mental Health Senior Business Partner for Acas and works to develop and deliver internal support on health and wellbeing for Acas staff and managers.

David Evans, Client Director, MindGym

David EvansDavid has worked within the Public Sector for nearly 20 years where he has gained experience leading organisational change, engagement, and learning programmes for global teams and major government departments.​

David is experienced across the full spectrum of people change including regulatory, technology, organisation design and workforce transformation.​

Prior to MindGym, David spent five years as a Senior Manager within Deloitte’s Human Capital Consulting practice. He has also served as Boeing’s UK Chief of Staff and as a British Army Officer during his formative career.​

Robert Sadler-Brocklehurst, MindGym

Robert Sadler-BrocklehurstRobert lives in Reading UK and is a full-time coach for MindGym. In addition to delivering globally for clients, he is one of MindGym’s four internal lead coaches who certify people to join the MindGym Coaching Network.

After beginning his career in the Energy Industry with focus around Leadership and Customer Service Robert has gone on to work with the Engineering, Automotive, Manufacturing, Insurance, Legal and Healthcare sectors. In doing so he has developed and delivered an award winning Graduate Development Programme​, shaped the conversation around vulnerable and low income customers in the energy industry, delivered an intensive leadership programme to a luxury car manufacturer for their top 50 high potential leaders​ and transformed performance conversations within a leading aviation services provider.

Dave Smithson, Operations Director, Anxiety UK

Dave SmithsonDave is the Operations Director at Anxiety UK, responsible for overseeing all operational aspects of service delivery for the user-led charity which provides access to therapy services for people with a range of anxiety, stress and anxiety-based depression conditions.

His role includes overseeing the clinical governance and quality assurance of all therapy provision, monitoring evaluation outcomes and reviewing feedback from clients on their user experience, managing commercial and charity partnerships and delivering workplace training and online webinars.

Vidyamala Burch, Breathworks

Vidyamala BurchVidyamala is a mindfulness and compassion teacher, author, disability spokesperson and Co-founder of Breathworks – one of the leading international mindfulness organisations.

Vidyamala's work for the past 25+ years has been dedicated to helping people who struggle with pain, illness and stress live fuller lives. Drawing on her own experience of living with spinal injuries, Vidyamala is a leading contributor to the field of pain management and has provided expertise and guidance to the NHS, UK Government, public health advisory boards, academia, leadership summits and mindfulness teaching globally. She was awarded an honorary membership by The British Pain Society in 2018 and was named one of the 100 most influential disabled individuals in the UK in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Wendy Eley, CSSC

Wendy started her career within the Civil Service as an Administrative Assistance straight from University and after 16 years working in varied roles across a range of departments she reached her aim of becoming a Senior Civil Servant.

In 2018, she joined CSSC Sport and Leisure, originally as a Director of Strategy, before moving into a new role as Group Operations Director. Since joining CSSC she has focused on implementing project management functions into the organisation, the creation of a strategic partnership with the Civil Service, the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant, and the development of the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.

The topic of mental health is really important to her and she's passionate about promoting openness and understanding of living with a mental illness. She enjoys speaking at conferences about her own experiences of mental health.

She has held an array of different volunteer roles such as Executive Director of Weightlifting Wales, Town Councillor, and Trustee of Care Ashore.

As well as a committed and experienced mentor, she is passionate about promoting openness and understanding of living with a mental illness and overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’, as well as promoting social mobility.

In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, weightlifting and gardening as well as restoring the 1920s property in Wiltshire where she lives with her husband, Phil.

Scott Thorne, CSSC

Scott is a membership Executive for CSSC. He joined CSSC in February 2019 and prior to this had over ten years’ experience in the sales industry as well as a military background, after joining the Royal Navy as an Air Engineering Technician at 17.

Outside of work, he is a proud husband and step father to three wonderful girls.

He has a huge passion for sport, previously playing football as well as being a volunteer grassroots football coach for the last five years within the female game in Wales. He holds the FAW C Certificate qualification, and is currently working towards his UEFA B Licence.

Ruby Wax OBE

Ruby WaxRuby Wax is a highly successful comedian, and presenter, who had her own show on the BBC for 25 years interviewing among others, Donald Trump, Imelda Marcos, Madonna and O.J. Simpson. She is author of four Sunday Times best- selling books, and has also for the last 25 years been performing her live one-woman shows globally, until recently directed by the late Alan Rickman. She has a  Master's degree in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy from Oxford University, and is a highly-acclaimed TedTalk Global speaker. She combines neuroscience, mindfulness and comedy in her recent tours and books, helping the world to find calm in this hectic 21st century. She was awarded an OBE for her services to mental health and is the founder of Frazzled Cafés, a place where people who are feeling frazzled can meet on a regular basis and share their personal stories in a safe, anonymous and non-judgmental environment. Where it’s “It’s OK to not be OK.

Ruby is a visiting Professor in the School of Mental Health Nursing at the University of Surrey as well as holding an Honorary Doctorate from the School of Psychology from The University of East London and University of Staffordshire. She has been awarded a City Lit Lifetime Fellowship, and is Chancellor of Southampton University.

In her book “And Now for the Good News” Ruby examines how living in such a climate of fear we need to turn our attention to the possible. So Ruby’s searched out the green shoots in business, technology, education, community, health and food that may be sprouting even now and, if we tend to them with care, may just bloom into a spectacular future.

Damian Chapman, The Charity for Civil Servants

Damian Chapman

Damian is Director of Strategic Marketing and Income Generation at The Charity for Civil Servants, having joined in December 2019.

He has spent the last fifteen years in fundraising and marketing within charities across the UK, including GenderShift, Base 51, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, and Police Care UK.


Paul Wyse

Paul Wyse

Paul is on secondment from the Environment Agency’s national flood team to help the DfE with its work on flood and climate resilience across the school estate. His work involves improving awareness of risks, linking work programmes with water companies and the Environment Agency and helping schools reduce their flood risk.

Paul has over 25 years experience working for the Environment Agency’s in a number of different local and national roles.

He has clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder and is a passionate campaigner for Mental Health understanding and equality.

Seonaid Webb

Seonaid is Head of Secondary Legislation for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She created and now chairs the Civil Service Working Through Cancer Network. This was originally established at a departmental level in the Home Office with Suzanne Gooch in 2018, after identifying a gap in consistent support for people affected by cancer following her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2016.

Since then the network has won two Civil Service Awards, including last year’s Cabinet Secretary “Year of Inclusion” award and has hosted a series of large-scale events, such as blood donation rallies attracting nearly 1,000 new donors.

Seonaid is also Defra’s Deputy Disability Champion and chairs the Defra Working Through Cancer Network. She was humbled to receive an MBE last year for public service and supporting cancer sufferers.

Lesley Boyes

Lesley Boyes is an SEO in the new Liverpool Visit Visa Hub in Liverpool. She was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer in 2010 aged 39 and was advised she also carried the BRCA 2 gene inherited from her maternal side of the family. She has managed staff with cancer and cared for her mother through her 10 year battle with BRCA2 related Ovarian cancer before she passed away. This has given her a complete understanding of how cancer effects all of the family and staff in the workplace. Lesley’s initial experience of cancer in the workplace makes her passionate about supporting staff, managers and carers and is always available to anyone who gets in touch. She is passionate about raising the profile of the psychological effects of cancer, especially after all operations and treatments end. Lesley is now 11 years in remission and is keen to share the positive side of a cancer diagnosis as it changed her outlook on life and she now always lives for the moment!

Paul Connelly

Paul Connolly is a Senior Policy Adviser at the Home Office in the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) policy team.  He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2017, days before his 40th birthday. The cancer then returned in 2020 and required several months of treatment.  Paul is the first to admit that he always thought cancer was something that affected other people but is now very much aware that it can impact anyone at any time, not just for the person diagnosed but close family, friends and colleagues.  Paul is keen to share his story, the challenges, emotions, and even the sometimes comical side of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment during the height of the Covid pandemic.

Suzanne Gooch

Suzanne Gooch is HR Deputy Director within the Home Office. Her husband was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2018 and Suzanne was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. She is chair of the HO Working through Cancer network (c330 members) that she and Seonaid Webb launched in 2018 – the blue print for the CS  Working Through Cancer network. Suzanne is passionate about sharing her story to demonstrate that it is possible to continue to work if you wish, to build confidence and competence amongst line managers to support both physical and psychological impacts of cancer and drive a culture shift that is more caring and compassionate where  both mental and physical wellbeing is given the highest priority. She was awarded an MBE in 2020 for public service and her work with cancer sufferers.

Claire Stewart

Claire is Head of Apprenticeship Assessment Delivery at the Department for Education and was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in her first week of joining the department. She received excellent support from colleagues throughout treatment and wanted to pay that forward, so working with a group of volunteers she set up, and now chairs, the DfE Working Through Cancer Network (launched in November 2020).

As well as hosting many departmental events and initiatives, Claire actively works to support the wider Civil Service network, and recently ran a World Cancer Day event with Shine Cancer charity to focus on the impact of cancer on younger people.

Darren Blakemore, Man Down

Darren BlakemoreDarren has worked in the Civil Service for over 20 years. Now working in Civil Service HR in the Cabinet Office, Darren is a Health and Wellbeing consultant and Mental First Aider.

Following years of struggling with his Mental Health, Darren received a diagnosis of clinical depression. Now, having bounced back, he has set up a Men’s Mental Health Support Group ‘Man Down’ and is working hard to establish similar groups across the Civil Service community and link up with external organisations to promote better Men's Mental Health.

When he is not being an adrenaline junkie, Darren is a coach of a girls junior rugby team at Ormskirk Rugby Club and has recently qualified as an Emergency First Aider with the RFU.

Luke Wilkinson

Luke Wilkinson

A keen runner having run three marathons, seven half-marathons and a couple of 10k’s, in 2021 Luke ran a solo-marathon and completed a thirty mile run for Movember UK. He loves all sport, in particular rugby, cricket and football. In 2019 he set up a Men’s Mental Health Group in HMRC, and in 2021 became a facilitator for Andys Man Club. He is passionate about raising awareness and having the open/honest conversations that need to be had.

At work he is a Mental Health Advocate and is actively involved in putting together the Taxing Talk mental health podcasts.

An interesting fact about Luke is that as an Economics and Politics graduate he wrote an essay on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, ensuring he did plenty of sampling!

Louise James

Louise JamesLouise is a Project Delivery Fast Streamer starting a  charity secondment for the next six months. She is passionate about confronting topics that are typically avoidable. Her belief is that showing vulnerability is a strength. As for hobbies, well, hobbies are her part time job – she climbs, boxes, swims, plays chess, crochets, is writing a book, and makes animations (currently making one about dyslexia). She is ambitious but alternative, and her greatest strength is that she doesn’t try to be anyone else but herself.

David Jones, The Charity for Civil Servants

David JonesDavid works for The Charity for Civil Servant’s wellbeing service, where he advises people on how best to seek support when they are under pressure; whether this be a result of mental health issues, personal difficulties, relationship problems or the stresses of caring.

His background is in social services and before coming to the Charity worked as a social worker for the best part of a decade. As such he has worked directly with carers of one kind or another for a long time and carried out interventions such as carers assessments in the past.

His experiences, both in social services and with the Charity, have made him well aware of the pressures that carers can face, and how difficult it can be for them to look after their own wellbeing.

Civil Service Eating Disorder Network

Civil Service Eating Disorder Network logoThe Civil Service Eating Disorder Network (CSEDN) is a cross-government network that is set up to support civil servants affected by eating disorders. The first of its kind, their aim is to support one another and raise awareness of the prevalence and impact of eating disorders to promote greater understanding and earlier intervention. They want to challenge misperceptions, tackle the stigma around eating disorders and change attitudes in the workplace to create supportive and inclusive environments across the Civil Service.

Dr David Batman MSc. MB. ChB. FFOM, Consultant Occupational Health Physician

Dr David BatmanDr David Batman has been a registered medical practitioner in the UK for over 48 years. He started professional life as a general practitioner but, after 11 years failing to encourage patients to adopt a more lifestyle focused approached to health management, he retrained and has practised for the last 33 years as a senior Occupational Health Consultant.

He still believes in listening, and hearing the patient / employee, and taking a holistic approach to medicine. Prevention is better than treatment in the long term and lifestyle risk contributes circa 70% of your risk of succumbing to long term health problems. He has a particular interest and expertise relating to the management of employee rehabilitation and safe return to employment, mental health in the workplace, employee resilience, sleep problems employee wellness and adding value to the lives of employees and their businesses and occupational health services.

He currently has his own OH Consultancy and works for Virgin Pulse as a member of their Science Advisory Board worldwide and International Occupational Health adviser. He is also Consultant Occupational Health Adviser to OH ONE – a specialist Occupational health provider.

Previously Dr Batman was CMO and Head of Safety for Nestle UK and Ireland for 20 years and has advised major businesses including Marks and Spencer, Novartis, Manchester Airports Authority, P&O Ferries as well as small organisations on helping employees at work with health problems.

Dr Neil Stanley, Sleepstation

Dr Neil StanleySleepstation combines psychology and sleep science with dedicated support to help people get the best sleep possible. Their Director of Sleep Science, Dr Neil Stanley, has been involved in sleep research for 39 years and started his career at the Neurosciences Division of the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine.

In the early 1990s he established and ran a 24-bed sleep laboratory for clinical trials in his role as Director of Sleep Research at the University of Surrey.

He was the Chairman of the British Sleep Society from 2000 to 2004 and is a member of both the European Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep. He has published 38 peer-review papers on various aspects of sleep research.

In his role as Director of Sleep Science at Sleepstation, Dr Stanley leads research in the area of digital sleep support.

Sebastian Ward, Fast Stream Wellbeing Network

Sebastian WardSebastian is currently on the GCS Fast Stream. He's had an interest in mental health for approximately seven years, and has been campaigning to increase awareness around the subject during that time. Having suffered from a mental illness, he knows just how much of an impact it can have both at work and at home. He therefore made it his goal to ensure that anyone who is struggling does not have to do so alone. He is a trained Mental Health First Aider and Co-Chair of the Fast Stream Wellbeing Network.

Alex Chisholm

Alex ChisholmAlex Chisholm became Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office in April 2020. Formerly he was the Permanent Secretary to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Previously he served as Chief Executive of the UK's Competition & Markets Authority (CMA). Prior to that Alex Chisholm served as Chairperson and Commissioner of Ireland's communications regulatory agency, ComReg.

Over a 30-year career-to-date, Alex has held a variety of senior executive posts in a diverse range of public policy and business positions, in the UK and Ireland, including government and regulatory agencies, an international media business, internet start-ups and a software services supplier. A highly analytical individual, Alex's main experience over the last decade has been in leading organisations through change, and this remains his prime focus and ambition.

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