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Meet the team!


Garden House Hospice Care is made up of a dedicated team of 200 staff and over 500 volunteers across the organisation. As a charity, we are governed by a Board of Trustees who lead on performance, strategy and the future direction of the Hospice.

The Board of Trustees is made up of 12 individuals with various skills and expertise from nursing, medical, commercial, legal and local government and is led by our Chairman Steve Mellish.

Day-to-day operations of Garden House Hospice Care are led by Chief Executive Sue Plummer with support from our passionate Senior Leadership Team of experienced Directors and Senior Managers.

Senior Leadership Team

Sue Plummer

Sue Plummer

Chief Executive

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Sue Plummer joined Garden House Hospice Care 6 years ago as CEO.

Sue qualified as a registered nurse in 1989 and then went on to obtain a BSc and MSc in Palliative Care at Kings College. More recently Sue spent time studying Leadership at Oxford University and Transformational Leadership at Yale in the USA.

Sue has worked in a variety of clinical and management roles over the last 25 years in cancer, palliative and end of life care including time at Isabel Hospice, the Cancer Centre at Mount Vernon Hospital, Lister Hospital and more recently at Peace Hospice at Watford.

Sue remains passionate about equity of access to quality palliative and end of life care and provides leadership support to the wider system in Hertfordshire to support change. Sue feels it is a real privilege to lead the team at GHHC and feels proud to work with such a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.

In her spare time Sue likes to cycle, walk the dog, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

Karen Bird

Karen Bird

Director of Patient Services

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Karen joined Garden House Hospice Care as Director of Patient Services in September 2021. Prior to this, Karen has been a Director of Clinical Services, a Deputy Nursing Officer, and a clinical nurse specialist. She has extensive experience within specialist palliative services including patient care and facilitating multi-disciplinary education programmes. Karen has previously worked within the NHS, private healthcare, and local hospices where she has promoted the importance of patient, carer and staff satisfaction, safety and service development. She is responsible for the planning and development of care and well-being for patients across all GHHC clinical settings. When not working, Karen enjoys baking and chasing the sun in her vintage VW campervan.

Dr Sarah Bell

Dr Sarah Bell

Medical Director

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Sarah joined Garden House as a consultant in 2014 and was appointed as Medical Director in 2016. Sarah qualified with a distinction in Medicine from London University in 1995, having previously obtained a BSc in medical science. She undertook a number of jobs in London teaching hospitals, including the Royal Free, the Royal Brompton, Hammersmith Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, before deciding to specialise in Palliative Medicine. Sarah worked with a number of palliative care teams across hospice, hospital and community settings in London and the East of England and has now been working in palliative medicine for over 20 years. In addition to her role at the Hospice, Sarah is the East of England Palliative Medicine Speciality Advisor for the Royal College of Physicians. Sarah and her husband, who is a vicar, live with their two sons and the family dog.

Carla Pilsworth

Carla Pilsworth

Director of Income Generation

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Carla joined Garden House Hospice Care in 2020 as Director of Income Generation. An experienced Fundraising, Sales and Marketing professional Carla previously worked for 13 years heading up the fundraising team across the region at Macmillan Cancer Support. Carla believes in open and honest leadership and builds teams based on relationships.

With a passion for making a difference, she has supported Garden House since her grandmother was cared for as an inpatient in 1991. Carla also supports many different causes including Tommy’s in memory of her daughter Daisy. Leading by example, Carla can usually be found taking part in a fundraising event or supporting one of our 13 shops. Carla also enjoys travelling and spent time living in Greece and Cyprus, now she’s settled again locally with her husband, daughter and a menagerie of animals!

Helen Clark

Helen Clark

Head of Operations

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Helen joined Garden House Hospice Care in 1992 as a part time member of the catering team . She took on the role of Catering Team Leader in 1996 and lead the team for about 10 years, then she took a sideways move into Support Services Management. Helen achieved a diploma in Health and Safety in 2009 which has enabled her to provide Health and Safety advice across the organisation. Now Helens title is Head of Operations and she manages 4 of the support services teams and is a member of the senior leadership team. About 5 years ago Helen and her partner started renovating their house which takes up much of their spare time, she also enjoys gardening and spending time with her family.

Derek Turnbull

Derek Turnbull

People Director

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Derek joined as People Director in July 2021 and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of HR. Derek has over 20 years’ HR experience within both the not for profit and private sectors.

Philip Mahan

Philip Mahan

Director of Finance

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Philip started at Garden House Hospice in 2020 as Interim Director of Finance, and became permanent in May 2021. He is a qualified accountant with 35 years’ experience in the commercial, education and charity sectors, and is responsible for all aspects of finance for the charity and the trading company. Philip enjoys working at Garden House Hospice and finds it very rewarding to be part of such a well-respected organisation.

Board of Trustees

Steve Mellish

Steve Mellish

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Steve was elected as Chairman of the Hospice in June 2021 having joined the Board as a Trustee in 2016. He was also Chairman of the Board of the Trading Company from 2017 to 2021, which saw significant growth in the company's operations. Steve tries to support as many fundraising events as possible, previously taking part in skydiving, wing walking, abseiling and cycling to name a few, generating thousands of pounds in donations.

Steve spent most of his career working with Sainsbury’s in a senior management role addressing risk, crisis management and organisational resilience. He then ran his own consultancy in risk and resilience between 2012 and 2021. He was also a Board Director of the Business Continuity Institute for 12 years, being elected twice as Chairman in 2004 and 2012.

Rhona Seviour

Rhona Seviour

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Rhona has had a varied career and, amongst other things, been a headteacher in North Hertfordshire and an education adviser for Hertfordshire County Council. She was also one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools and, more recently, a government education adviser. She has had a keen interest in the hospice movement for the last thirty years during which time, with her husband, she has been involved in end-of-life care for one of her children and four parents. These experiences contributed to her wish to ensure that everyone in the local community has access to the very best end-of-life care at the place of their choosing and that their families have the support they need to cope when experiencing dying, death and bereavement. Rhona’s background provides her with experience of leadership, governance, inspection, training and development, and quality improvement. Rhona retains a passionate belief in the value of education throughout our lives.

Roger Gochin

Roger Gochin

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Roger joined the Board in 2014. He is also a member of the Board of the Trading Company.

Roger is an experienced Chief Executive, Consultant and Director having been on the Board of many organisations in the leisure, housing, media and education sectors after a career in education which culminated in being the Principal of North Hertfordshire College for 15 years until 2005. He has many connections within Hertfordshire and the region.

Roger currently Chairs the Stevenage FC Charitable Foundation; he is Vice Chairman of Hertfordshire Independent Living Services which runs amongst other things the county wide meals on wheels service; he is a regional mentor for an Olympic Legacy company called SPORTED.

Sir Tim Wilson

Sir Tim Wilson

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Sir Tim Wilson has been resident in Letchworth for 30 years. He retired from his position as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire in December 2010.

During his tenure he was a member of several Government, Regional and Business-led Policy Boards in the field of Research Exploitation and University-Business Collaboration.

In the last decade, he has been a non-executive director of public and private companies in London, Vancouver, Singapore and Athens. He has served as a Trustee of Garden House Hospice Care since 2012.

He was conferred with a Knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list 2011, for Services to Higher Education and to Business.

Dr Pauline Williams

Dr Pauline Williams

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Pauline was appointed as a trustee in October 2021, coinciding with her decision to retire after a long career in the pharmaceutical industry. A doctor by training, Pauline has held a number of roles in drug discovery, most recently as Head of Global Health Research and Development at GSK focussing on diseases of the developing world, including TB, Malaria and causes of maternal and neonatal mortality. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and serves as a Council Member of the UKRI Medical Research Council. In 2019 Pauline was named as Changemaker for Children in Save the Children’s Centenary Awards and she was awarded a CBE for services to medical research and development in the Queen’s 2021 New Year Honours List. She enjoys mentoring people early in their career and is a passionate advocate for health equity across gender and ethnicity. Having appreciated the care and expertise offered by the Garden House Hospice Care when her late husband was an inpatient in 2015, Pauline is keen to bring her expertise as a senior manager, physician and researcher to her role as trustee.

John Procter

John Procter

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John was a teacher of Physics for 10 years. This led to a move to local government as a Senior Officer working in education.

John has been associated with the Hospice from the year it opened, working initially as a volunteer on reception but also assisting in other areas, including bereavement counselling. John was appointed to the Board of Trustees 25 years ago. As a Trustee he has held the positions of Chairman of the Trading Company, Vice Chairman and more recently Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Outside of his work for the Hospice, John volunteers for the National Trust at Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire. He is also a Trustee of a charity supporting people who live in Royston and a charity providing education and healthcare for a group of villages near Kampala, Uganda.

Ken Farrington

Ken Farrington

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Ken has been a Consultant Nephrologist at the Lister Hospital since 1991. After training in chemistry, he went on to qualify in medicine in Cardiff, and complete his Nephrology training at the Royal Free. With colleagues he has played a significant role in the establishment and development of renal services in Herts and Beds. He is Treasurer of the British Renal Society. He has also held a number of clinical management roles within the Trust including Trust Medical Director and Director of R&D. He is Head of the Centre for Clinical and Health Services Research at the University of Hertfordshire. His main research interests lie in metabolic aspects of chronic kidney disease, haemodialysis, and conservative and supportive management in end stage kidney disease. He has published widely in these areas.

Simon Chatfield

Simon Chatfield

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Simon qualified as a Dr in 1980 from the Royal Free Hospital in London. He joined the North Hertfordshire GP training scheme, based at Lister Hospital, Stevenage not anticipating that he would then stay on in Letchworth for a 30+ year career. He also worked, during his training, as a Medical Officer for 3 months in a very remote community in Newfoundland, Canada. In the 80s, the Hospice building was the site of Letchworth Cottage Hospital. Local people were admitted under GP care and there was a small X-ray unit. The new post of trustee reconnects him professionally with the Hospice where, as a GP, he had referred patients for community, in-patient and day services. He will look for the opportunities to ensure the Hospice works to be the best it can be. Stepping back from the General Practice partner role in 2016, his recent career includes advising NHS commissioners on emergency care and audit. He acts as a cancer and prescribing lead for a group of local practices in North Herts and has represented locum Drs, led postgraduate education and other professional meetings. Appointed as a specialist in primary care regulation for the CQC, he has visited over 100 practices since 2014. His professional motivation centres around doing the right thing for our patients ensuring that there has been thought about what should be done in healthcare as much as what can or could be done.

Richard Dearden

Richard Dearden

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Richard enjoyed a rewarding retail career with the John Lewis Partnership and his combination of commercial acumen and leadership skills delivered profitable trading at a range of shops. His last few years were spent heading the committed, diverse and successful team at John Lewis Brent Cross. Richard hopes to add value to Garden House Hospice Care by sharing his experience of leading change, brand management, customer service and selling operations in a fluctuating retail context. Richard has lived in Hitchin for more than twenty years and has been aware of the hugely significant contribution which the Hospice team makes to the local community. His family had personal experience of the end of life care offered by the amazing staff, when they looked after his mother in law with great skill and compassion. Richard is delighted to be working alongside talented and enthusiastic colleagues to help raise funds to support the Hospice work.

James Silsby

James Silsby

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Having received outstanding care from the Hospice for his father in 2016, James joined the Board as Treasurer and is now Chair of the Finance Committee. James works for Lloyds Banking Group and has a broad commercial and financial background.

A keen cyclist, James has previously cycled to Paris raising funds for Garden House Hospice Care and is always keen to support or participate in our challenges and events.

John Machen

John Machen

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John was a GP in Hitchin for 35 years and had been involved in medical education for much of that time, both as GP Tutor in North Hertfordshire and undergraduate tutor in general practice for Imperial College and University College London medical schools.

Pre-retirement from General Practice he was an active member of the Local Medical Committee and Hertfordshire St John Ambulance Brigade. He still works part-time.

John is an advocate for palliative care particularly in the community setting.

Melanie Flynn

Melanie Flynn

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Melanie is a Certified Internal Auditor and has spent many years advising organisations on their governance, risk management and internal control frameworks. During a 16 year career with PwC, Melanie worked with clients across the public, financial services and not-for-profit sectors. Melanie’s current role is with NatWest Group, where she quality assures the work performed by the bank’s audit teams to ensure compliance with internal audit standards, and provides training to develop employees’ internal audit skills.

Melanie enjoys giving her time to support the local community. Previous volunteering roles have included two years as a member of the Letchworth Festival committee, and working as part of the St John Ambulance team supporting the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Melanie is delighted to be able to bring her skills and experience to her role as Trustee of Garden House Hospice Care and is proud to work with such a well-respected and vitally important community organisation.

Garden House Hospice Care Trading Ltd

Garden House Hospice Care Trading Ltd operates 13 retail shops across North Hertfordshire and beyond, also offering an online shopping presence through eBay and other sites. All shops rely on donations of goods from the local community, with all profits from retail directly supporting vital end of life care in our community.

Trading Company Board

Richard Dearden - Chairman of the Trading Company
Sue Plummer - Chief Executive of GHHC
Carla Pilsworth - Director of Income Generation
Sir Tim Wilson - Director
Roger Gochin - Director
James Hyde - Director
Mike Thompson - Director


Our patrons

Our distinguished Patrons and Vice Presidents play important roles as ambassadors and advocates for Garden House Hospice Care in the community. We are grateful for the support they give us.

Patrons

  • Lord Julian Fellowes of West Stafford DL
  • Lady Emma Fellowes of West Stafford DL
  • Dr Tim Hunt
  • The Chairman of North Herts District Council
  • The Mayor of Royston
  • The Mayor of Stevenage
  • Mr Bill Tudor John DL
  • Sir Oliver Heald QC, MP
  • Bim Ofolami, MP
  • Stephen McPartland, MP
  • Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans

Our Honorary Vice Presidents

  • Dr Frances Aldridge
  • Mrs Sally Alford
  • Mrs Sheila Ball
  • Mr Ivor Barber
  • Mr Trevor Bentham
  • Mrs Mary Blaksley
  • Mrs Trudy Bunday
  • Mr Bernard Davies
  • Mr Andrew Egerton-Smith MBE
  • Mrs Rosemary Gillham
  • Mr Peter Harkness
  • Mr David Heymans
  • Mrs Janet Hill
  • Mrs Anne Houghton
  • Mr Anthony Isaacs
  • Dr Margaret Judd RIP
  • Mrs Jenny Lupton
  • Mr Roger Manning
  • Rev Frank Mercurio
  • Dr Catherine Offer
  • Mr Peter Willmott
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