New Board Appointments at The Haemochromatosis Society

Following our invitation for people to apply to join the Board at our AGM in April, two new trustees have been appointed to the board of The Haemochromatosis Society.

Corrina Towers

Corrina Towers

The charity, which has been undergoing significant change over the last year or so, is delighted to announce that Lisa Flude and Corrina Towers (pictured) were confirmed as trustees at the July board meeting – appointments which will then be endorsed at the next members’ AGM in 2017.

Both Lisa and Corrina have haemochromatosis themselves. They also bring plenty of valuable skills and experience to the board and are committed to further modernisation and increasing the influence of the charity as a patient organisation.

Howard Don, Chairman of The Haemochromatosis Society, said “I am delighted to welcome Lisa and Corrina to the Board.  I am convinced they both have a range of managerial and developmental skills that will be hugely beneficial to the charity.  Having spoken at length to both of them, I can attest to their enthusiasm and being GH sufferers themselves there is no doubting their commitment to the cause.”

Lisa Flude

Lisa Flude

We caught up with both of the new board members shortly after their appointment and asked them to tell us more about themselves …

Why did you decide you wanted to be a trustee of The Haemochromatosis Society?

Lisa: I decided the only way to influence change is to be part of it! After 4 years’ experience of this condition I realised that there is so much work to be done to improve diagnosis and treatment across the UK and especially in my own area (Wales). At this stage in my life I find I have the time, the passion and still have enough energy to give to a cause close to my heart.

Corrina: I first met David Head shortly after he’d started with the Society, and from that meeting onwards when I learned more about the plans for the Society I knew I wanted to get involved  to help make a difference. Getting involved with the pharmacy training project with Boots enabled me to see first-hand how important the Society’s key aims are, and just what an opportunity there is to do something good for the benefit of many, including myself!

What do you do in your day job?

Lisa: I am now retired but in my previous existence I was a Management and Leadership Lecturer working within academic colleges and institutions and also travelling across the country delivering management qualifications for middle and senior managers in the public and private sectors. I have a strong commercial background coming from a manufacturing family in the Midlands and I am also currently a trustee for Age Cymru Ceredigion.

Corrina: I’m a management development consultant, and I’m lucky enough to enjoy a variety of work, predominantly with many well-known retail and hospitality brands both in the UK and abroad.

Whereabouts do you live?

Lisa: I was born and bred in Hinckley in Leicestershire but we moved to Cardigan in West Wales 10 years ago with a view to changing our quality of life having spent too many hours on the M1 and not enough with our family.

Corrina: I live in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. It’s sort of a large village/small town which is quite a draw for tourists as the Roald Dahl Museum is here, as he lived in Great Missenden for much of his writing career.

Are you affected by GH yourself .. and how about your family?

Lisa: I have type 1 GH and was diagnosed 4 years ago. Interestingly my brother and I are adopted at birth from separate families however we both have GH. Thus far they have not been able to get any blood from my veins, I am refusing to let go of it, and as a result I use a chelator instead of venesection.

Corrina: I was diagnosed with GH in Dec 2014 with two copies of the C282Y mutation. This was quite by accident through seeing a nutritionist.  Family wise, I have five stepsons rather than my own children so my brother and Mum were my immediate concern.  Once my DNA and ferritin tests were confirmed I urged them both to get tested. Thankfully, it appears I am the only ‘special’ one in our family

These are exciting times for the charity, how do you see it evolving over the next few years?

Lisa: Yes, it is an exciting time to be joining the board as it feels the society is growing in influence and  becoming an increasingly strong and dynamic force for change in the way GH is diagnosed and treated in the UK. People are more aware of us as a society and through our presence more aware of the condition and its potential impact for their friends and families. I think we are well placed to influence the medical professionals and spread the word by raising awareness. I can see our online presence growing considerably and the society becoming a leading voice, partnering and sharing information with other societies and individuals internationally.

Corrina: I liked David’s analogy (at this year’s GH conference in Manchester) that more people in the UK have GH than cystic fibrosis, yet many more people have awareness of cystic fibrosis than haemochromatosis. I think that we have a huge opportunity to get the word out there so that people know about iron overload, and hopefully ask for or encourage testing if they recognise symptoms in themselves or others. Had I not been diagnosed by accident I could have gone on to suffer irreversible organ or joint damage in later years which is a really scary prospect, and I know I wouldn’t have been alone in this.

I’d also love to see the Society become financially sustainable in the coming years so that money collected and raised could then be spent on meaningful research which could be a game changer for people with GH.

How would you like to think that you can contribute to this?

Lisa: My management background brings structure and a proactive mindset. I am a logical thinker, a confident speaker and have a strategic outlook and I think this skill set will be of value. There seems to be little support available or awareness of GH within Wales and I hope to change this over the coming years. If you live in Wales please get in touch!

Corrina: Well, I can give time and attention to our causes which I think will help. And also I’m told that I’m very persuasive,  so that coupled with some Irish charm inherited from my much missed and dearly loved powerhouse of a Gran means I’d like to think that I can work with the board and other volunteers to make things happen.

Could you tell us a couple of things about yourself that would interest or amuse our members?

Lisa: We changed living on motorways to living by the sea in West Wales. We have a smallholding and in previous years have grown organic vegetables which we sell to our local community from the gate and to local restaurants.

In 2017 I shall be taking 5 months out to walk 1000 miles with my dog, we shall be raising awareness and funds for the society and I may be coming your way so please look out for us and come along and walk with us if you have a spare day! I hope to raise money for THS and the Air Ambulance; my dog Meg will have her own fund for The Dogs Trust. More information to follow next year!

Corrina: My Dad was a Bob Dylan fanatic so I was named after the track “Corrina, Corrina”.

I am known for mistakenly thinking I was once shot by a sniper, and my story of what happened before and after.  Suffice to say, there were no  actual snipers or guns involved,  just a  fermented blackcurrant smoothie.  (Intriguing! We need to get more details for a magazine article … Ed)