Board of Trustees

David SimonsDavid Simons


David, born in Alfreton, Derbyshire, qualified as a dentist in 1965 and ran a successful dental practice in Dore, Sheffield, for 25 years, where he specialised in the use of hypnosis in the management of pain and anxiety. During this period he studied psychotherapy at the University of Leeds, and became a key figure in the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis, serving as National President from 1982-84. His book, Hypnosis and Communication in Dental Practice, was published in 2006.

As his reputation in this field grew, GPs and Consultants began to refer patients to him with a broad range of symptoms, including an increasing number suffering from problems related to cancer and its treatment. In 1990, in partnership with a small group of fellow professionals, he established the charity now known as Cavendish Cancer Care.

David has lectured and written widely on clinical hypnosis both in the UK and internationally. He is an associate lecturer at a number of universities and medical schools, including both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. He delivers lectures and workshops on communication and pain and symptom management for doctors, dentists, psychologists, medical and dental students and palliative care nurses.

He says; “It has been wonderful for me to see Cavendish Cancer Care develop from its humble beginnings and I cannot thank all who have been involved with us enough for their terrific work, compassion and sheer professionalism. I am so proud to of the superb clinical relationships that have built up between ourselves and the mainstream cancer services throughout the City.”

Roy FinchRoy Finch

Roy was born in Pontefract, and the family moved to Sheffield when he was a little boy. After some years as cost accountant with a number of large Sheffield companies Roy’s entrepreneurial skills came to the surface and he eventually acquired a number of businesses, employing a great many people. always with the awareness that, “Every employee has a family – this business is supporting entire families.”

On retiring from business in 1997 Roy was invited by David Simons to join at Cavendish Cancer Care where he became our first Chairman, bringing with him his business expertise and humour to blend in with the caring philosophy of our organisation. Through Roy, in those early years, we developed a sound strategy, forward planning, financial controls and clear direction, and also an excellent relationship with the Freemasons, for whose help we are very grateful.

In due course Roy became our Chair of the Board of Trustees and now serves as one of Cavendish Cancer Care’s Vice-Presidents.
He says; “Each time I look at of Cavendish Cancer Care I am more aware of its development and growth, its quality and the sheer professionalism of its staff and therapists”.

Lady NeillLady Neill DL


Anne Neill was born in Sheffield. Her father was a Medical GP in the city. Following work as a secretary she trained as a nurse, retiring from the profession when she married. Over the years Anne nursed a number of relatives during their terminal illnesses and through this she realised the needs of the very ill, and says that that experience lead to her passion for charities such as St Luke’s Hospice and Cavendish Cancer Care which provide such excellent supportive care.

Anne is a member of several South Yorkshire trusts and was also appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire in 1999. She has been President of St Luke’s Hospice since 2000 and plays a vital role in the life of the hospice. She is a keen promoter of the work of St Luke’s Hospice both throughout Sheffield and further afield

She was appointed a Trustee of Cavendish Cancer Care in 1998, stepping down as a Board member in 2009 to become a devoted Vice-President for the charity. Throughout her time with us Anne has been a tireless worker, supporting our staff and maintaining our excellent relationships with charitable trusts and other organisations throughout the area.

In her own words: “Cavendish Cancer Care hadn’t been founded forty years ago when my mother was given a terminal cancer diagnosis. She faced her death so bravely but I wish she could have enjoyed the support that Cavendish has provided to families over the last twenty five years and that I could have called on its help after her death. I am so proud to be a Vice-President of Cavendish Cancer Care and to have been a Trustee before that. Working with such a professional and dedicated team is a real honour”.

June SmailesDr June Smailes


June was born in Durham City. She studied Medicine at Sheffield University, graduating in 1981,  and since then has enjoyed a varied career in Medicine, working in Hospitals and General Practice both in the UK and overseas. June’s particular area of interest has been breast disease, working with Professor Malcolm Reed in Sheffield Teaching Hospital breast clinic as a Breast Physician for 8 years.

In March 2004, June was shocked to discover that she herself had become a patient when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she became acutely aware of the importance of emotional support both during and after treatments for cancer.

As June expresses it; “Cavendish Cancer Care provided me with a safe place to go to talk about my concerns with therapists who are experienced and trained to help cancer sufferers and their families. In a world where, thankfully, more patients are surviving for longer after a diagnosis of cancer, the need to support people to live the best life they can after a diagnosis of cancer has never been more important. My life is different and, surprisingly – in many ways – better now. I try to have more time for the important things in life; my husband, daughters, family and friends but also feel more able to take on challenges which has consequently made my career more diverse and interesting.”

June was a Trustee for Cavendish Cancer Care from 2008-2017, acting as Chair of the Board from 2014-2017. She now acts as a Vice-President.

Tim Pryor

(Chair of the Board of Trustees, January 2017 – June 2018)

Tim  was born in Sheffield and lived here throughout his 41 years in Corporate Banking. He was Head of Corporate and Commercial Business in Yorkshire and the North East for Bank of Scotland and, prior to retiring in December 2016, had held Senior positions for Lloyds Banking Group, heading up their Corporate Business across South York’s & Humber.

Tim was passionate about seeing the region prosper, one of the reasons why he was Board Director of Creative Sheffield – Sheffield city council’s economic development function.

In April 2014, Tim was shocked to learn that he had advanced Prostate Cancer and found himself in need of the services of the Cavendish. As Tim expresses it “unless you’ve been in the situation of being advised that you have a much reduced life expectancy, it is hard to describe the tremendous emotional strain that this places, not only on the impacted individual but also that individual’s  family. Being able to access highly trained therapists with tremendous experience of dealing with situations like this has made a real difference to my outlook on my condition and how I approach life – all for the better. It is also clear to me that the Cavendish model of integrated cancer care – working closely with the NHS to help shape the best conventional medical care together with its own delivery of a range of complimentary therapies – is one which is gaining more prominence.”

Kevin Clifford

(Chair of the Board of Trustees)

Kevin has been a registered Nurse since 1983, completing a BSC in Nursing Studies and an MSc in Health Economics and Management. More recently completing the Kings Fund Top Manager Programme in 2011.

As Director of Nursing for Acute and Elderly Medicine at the Northern General, prior to the creating of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Kevin had his first association with the Cavendish Centre many years ago, and has continued to support the work of the centre when possible ever since.

In August 2016 Kevin retired as Chief Nurse at Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group. He has held a range of Nursing and General Management posts in the NHS over almost 40 years, including Chief Operating Officer for PCTs Provider  (Community) Services, and both Clinical Director of Operations and Nurse Director (Emergency Care) at a large Teaching Hospital / Foundation Trust.

He says: “ I see my current role as supporting Cavendish Cancer Care both in its growing relationships within Sheffield’s mainstream cancer care and within the NHS”.

Jo Cairns

Jo Cairns is a Northumbrian although she has lived in Sheffield for over 32 years.

Her first career was as a nurse, spending over 10 years in post-anaesthetic care, latterly as a senior practitioner/manager.  Her nursing career included a 4 week speciality placement at Western Park Hospital.  Jo also worked as a work-place assessor, clinical supervisor and trainer in infection control, manual handling and HIV/AIDS during her nursing career.   She was also a volunteer with SHIELD, a Sheffield HIV/AIDS charity for two years.

Her current career is in HR, following completion of an MSc in Human Resource Management and professional qualifications.  Her various roles have focussed on the voluntary and education sectors and also as a HR Consultant in the private sector.  Another roles have included Non-Executive Directorship and as a Trustee at North Sheffield PCT.

Jo now has her own HR consultancy, Employment Remedies.

Her involvement with Cavendish Cancer Care started in 2016 when she met members of the fund-raising team at a professional networking event. She is renowned for her work for us as an expert volunteer bag packer at M&S.

Jo say: “ I’m delighted to be a Trustee of Cavendish Cancer Care as the work the staff and volunteers carry out is invaluable to individuals living with cancer and to their loved ones.  I appreciate how positive the impact of Cavendish is on those who need advice, care and support.”

Will Cleary-GrayWill Cleary-Gray

Will has significant experience from across the healthcare system. He initially trained as a nurse in Sheffield as a post graduate of the University of Sheffield before developing nursing expertise in neuro HDU/ITU. Will then enjoyed varied nursing career in a range of care settings. He later took up a post with the Royal Collage Nursing Institute in Oxford as a research and development fellow leading on the development of evidence-based resources and collaboration with international partners; sharing best practice guidance and methodologies.

During this time Will, led on a number of projects utilising systematic review methodologies including lead developed and author of  a number of national clinical guidelines including NICE guidance.  He took the opportunity of  a visiting research fellowship with the University of York where he supported updating a number of Cochrane reviews and also supported teaching modules on  research masters programmes.

Will is an experienced commissioner; initially working in the North West where he led on reform of elective care for a large city PCT pioneering some of the first tier 2 services and later as an associate director of commissioning supporting then, 14 PCTs of Greater Manchester with national procurements. Since 2007  Will has worked in  Sheffield both for the PCT and later the CCG in  a number of roles with a focus, strategy, planning, specialised, collaborative and cancer services. Will was appointed to the role of Director for Working Together; a partnership of 8 CCGs and NHS England working collectively on strategy and transformational change across a wide geographical area.

Gillian Coverley

Gillian was born in Sheffield, grew up just up the road in Barnsley, and then returned to the city following University and Law College.

She is the Head of the Private Client team in the Sheffield office of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors. Gillian has worked there for 20 years progressing to Partner in the team in 2007. Gillian’s role at Irwin Mitchell encompasses working professionally with a number of charities supporting them in their fund raising and more particularly helping them to raise legacy income. In 2015 Gillian set up a Will writing service with Cavendish to help encourage supporters to remember Cavendish Cancer Care in their Will.

Gillian says ‘ I was introduced to the valuable work of Cavendish by my friend and colleague Karen Codling, a former Trustee and Deputy Chair, and through Karen and a number of other friends and contacts who have benefited from Cavendish’s good work I  have seen what a real difference the charity has made. I am incredibly proud to join the team of Trustees to help them to develop their valuable support further.’

David Grey MBE

David is the Executive Chairman of OSL Group Holdings Ltd. At the age of 17 David formed a mobile disco business and then later supplemented that by working as a DJ in Sheffield nightclubs. He set up his first limited company at the age of 23 with a £1,000 loan from his mother and a similar loan from Barclays Bank. He has built up his business, by acquisition and organic growth, to a group of manufacturing companies exporting to over 60 countries.

He has been a council member of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a Director of Business Link and Chairman of the Business Community Partnership. He was a board member of the Sheffield First Partnership and Chairman of Sheffield First for Investment. David was also asked to join the governing body of Mansell Primary School, after which the school successfully passed its Ofsted inspection and passed out of special measures.

In 2006, he led a bid to win a £26 million grant from central government to encourage entrepreneurship in Sheffield and served as Chairman of the Local Economy Board tasked with delivering the programme. He has Chaired the Big Challenge, an entrepreneur programme delivered across all Sheffield secondary schools for the last ten years.

He was awarded an MBE in 2010 for his services to industry and regeneration in Sheffield. He has served for 5 years on the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Board with specific responsibility for inward investment and business growth. In 2013 he led a bid for £32 million of RGF funding, on behalf of the Sheffield City Region which led onto a further £50 million of investment funding, and he currently chairs the Board overseeing the investment programme. He was installed as Master Cutler for the year 2014-15 and is currently the Chairman of Sheffield City Trust. He is also a Non Exec Director for a number of manufacturing businesses.

He counts skiing, scuba diving, football and motor racing as hobbies. He has a private pilot’s licence and a Piper Saratoga aircraft based at Gamston Airport.

Sue Shepley

Sue retired as Inpatient Matron of Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital in 2013, after 34 years of caring for cancer patients, although she continues to work at Weston Park in a part time project lead role.  As Matron at Weston Park she was  personally responsible for all inpatient services, including the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit.

Sue, a mum-of-three and grandmother-of-three lives in Holmesfield, North Derbyshire, with her husband Dick, 65, where they run a farm, a wedding business and a cider press. She grew up in Miller’s Dale in the Peak District, moving to London to train at St Thomas’ Hospital before returning to work in Sheffield after she married.

Her hands on approach and experience has been invaluable to Cavendish Cancer Care since she joined us in, becoming a Board member in 2007.  As well as being a vital link between ourselves and Sheffield’s mainstream cancer services, Sue’s role as Advisor to our Therapy Team has been crucial for us.

As Sue herself expresses it, “I’ve been a nurse since 1975, working at Weston Park since 1978 – I’m part of the structure there. I enjoy looking after people. It is the simple things, like making sure someone is able to get to sleep at night, or finding them something they can face eating when they are feeling terrible. I consider it a privilege to have worked with cancer patients throughout my career, and am always in awe of the stoicism and courage of patients as they go through their treatment. My aim has been to support them on that journey.”


Alan Spier

Alan started life as a qualified Chartered Accountant in the London office of Coopers & Lybrand’s (now part of PWC) tax department, working my way through the ranks before becoming a partner in 1975 in Birmingham. He moved to the Sheffield office in 1991 as Partner in charge of the tax department there. During his time with Coopers he specialised in corporate tax planning, his clients ranging from family companies to FTSE 100 companies. He has been a member of the First Tier Tax Tribunal, hearing
cases of dispute between HMRC and taxpayers, retiring from this post on 2 April this year.

Since retirement Alan has been involved in various charitable activities including acting as honorary accountant to the Sheffield Jewish Congregation and being a trustee of St Luke’s Hospice from 2002 to 2012. He has enjoyed swimming all his life and has put this obsession to good use by raising over 20,000 for charity in sponsored swims over a period of 30 years.

He says; “My reason for supporting Cavendish Cancer Care simple: Like most people I have been touched by the effects of cancer among my close friends, and having heard about the Centre from David Simons, I wanted very much to play a part in its good work”.

David Thurkettle

David joined as a Treasurer and Board member in April 2018.  Formerly, he was Director in the the Sheffield office of PricewaterhouseCoopers (“PwC”) for over 25 years, retiring in late 2017. David was President of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 2014/15 and a board member from 2012 to 2016. David was also Treasurer to both The Sheffield Cathedral and Boys & Girls Clubs South Yorkshire until 2011.  He also was Chair of the University of Sheffield Careers Advisory Board.

David is married to Julie and has one daughter, Olivia.  They live in South West Sheffield.  David enjoys going to the cinema and music and is a big sports fan.  When commitments allow, he enjoys running in an attempt to keep young.

Maria_Vardy_Oct2015_3131BW LRMaria Vardy

Maria, a seasoned marketer, was a founding partner of Iris (brand and creative agency), successfully building up the business for over 20 years prior to its acquisition by Jaywing plc in 2012. She now manages the Jaywing agency in Sheffield and continues to have a very hands-on role, consulting and advising clients on strategy and assisting in their development plans.

Maria heads up and leads the Client Development Team in the agency and provides support and guidance to ensure clients receive the very best service, tailored to their needs. She has extensive experience working in both the private and public sectors nationally and regionally. She is an active networker and engages in industry and client sector events and forums.

Having joined Cavendish Cancer Care in 2013, she sees her major role with us as supporting the profile and network building initiatives within the region. She also assists our CEO, Chris Farrell, in the development of marketing and communications plans in line with the charity’s ambition.

Maria was appointed to the Board of Trustees through the gentle coaxing of former Chairs John Bryan and June Smailes, and adds, “Their passion and enthusiasm for the cause was infectious and, although the charity was new to me, once I saw the amazing work and impact it had it was a privilege to be asked to join the Board and add value in any capacity I could”.