The Team - Arthritis Action
Shantel Irwin

Chief Executive

Shantel is the Chief Executive of Arthritis Action. She has worked in membership organisations for over 20 years in both the charity and private sectors. This includes acting as a trustee for the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) for six years, an alliance providing a collective voice for the arthritis and musculoskeletal community in the UK. Shantel is keen to help more people with arthritis to lead active lives through Arthritis Action’s self-management approach.

Noha Al Afifi

Director of Fundraising & Communications

Noha joined Arthritis Action in September 2015 and is responsible for raising the profile of the Charity and enhancing public awareness of arthritis. She manages the marketing, communications and fundraising team. Noha has over 15 years’ experience in marketing and communications across various sectors in the UK and abroad, and is a Trustee of National Voices, a coalition of health and social care charities working towards person-centred care. She has been named in PR Week UK’s Power Book in 2021 and 2022, which recognises the top 1% of PR professionals in the UK.

Heather Baumohl-Johnson

Director of Services & Operations

Heather joined Arthritis Action in February 2015 and is responsible for developing the Charity’s Services and supports the psychological health of people with arthritis. Heather is an experienced senior executive whose work has involved strategic senior leadership, developing self-management approaches, volunteer and local group management. Heather has an MSc in Clinical Hypnotherapy with a background in psychology and is a trained Mental Health First Aider.

Leah Boylan

Group and Events Manager

Leah joined Arthritis Action in December 2016 and is responsible for developing the programme of events, as well as furthering the work of Arthritis Action to local communities. Leah has a background in events organisation with a focus on providing a positive experience for members and service users to increase their confidence and involvement. Leah recently obtained a Diploma in Events Management.

Eoin Buckley

Communications Officer

Eoin joined in February 2020 and is responsible for helping to build the profile of the charity, as well as developing content to enhance public awareness of arthritis. He has previous experience working in the communication and PR teams for a number of well-known corporate, healthcare and consumer companies. He also has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing.

Victoria Clarke

Corporate Partnerships Manager

Victoria joined in July 2020 to establish and develop new corporate partnerships and raise the profile of Arthritis Action, something very dear to her heart, as she has watched close family members live with osteoarthritis for over 19 years. Her experience lies in events, corporate sponsorship, marketing and advertising, working for national and local radio, as well as media agencies, where she founded ‘award winning’ events such as recruitment & careers shows and award ceremonies. Outside of work, she has a passion for ‘grass’ roots football, she is a self-taught caricature and portrait artist, and loves cooking Italian pasta dishes ‘just like Mamma used to make’ for her family and friends, as some of the hobbies she enjoys.

Margaret Daly

Communications Manager (Maternity Cover)

Margaret has over 12 years experience in marketing and communications including experience in the not-for-profit sector. She joined the team in May 2022 as maternity cover for Despina who manages communications.

Sarah Gudgin

Services Development Manager

Sarah is responsible for the development of the mental health and well-being services. Sarah also supports the Associated Practitioner Service, oversees the daily administrative duties of the London office, and project manages our Self-Management videos. Sarah has a background in recruitment and has previous experience of working within the not-for-profit sector.

Dr Wendy Holden

Medical Advisor & Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist

Wendy is an Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at North Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, specialising in arthritis and pain management. Her main role with Arthritis Action is to help develop the charity in a way that clinicians and doctors can value and support, as part of an overall approach to managing arthritis. As well as being a hospital consultant, Wendy has additional training in pain management, acupuncture and osteopathy, and won a national award as Healthcare Champion from the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society in 2011. She is also a Specialist Advisor to the Care Quality Commission. Wendy has a particular interest in the role of self-management alongside conventional medical care for arthritis.

Despina Koniordou

Communications Manager (Maternity Leave)

Despina joined in March 2016 to help spread the messages of Arthritis Action through web, digital and print communications and oversee the website development. Despina, a Forensic psychology postgraduate, has a background in healthcare, research, academic and science communications, experience working in membership and not-for-profit, and a lot of experience in volunteering for charities.

Martin Lau

Services Development Manager & Dietitian

Martin was a Senior Dietitian in the NHS prior to joining Arthritis Action. He is particularly interested in eating patterns, nutrients’ interactions, weight management and persistent pain management in people living with arthritis. Martin’s role is to develop Arthritis Action's Member Services in addition to offering nutritional consultations in both Eastbourne and London. He also facilitates our Arthritis Action group in Eastbourne, gives presentations to the community and runs our online exercise classes. As well as being a Dietitian, Martin is also qualified in the field of strength and conditioning. Currently he is a member of the EULAR task force in the non-pharmacological management of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Alison Lloyd

Membership and Office Coordinator

Alison joined Arthritis Action in July 2017 and her role is to welcome new Members and provide administrative support to the Membership Team. Alison worked as a freelance proof reader and taught English in private language schools abroad and in London before joining the not-for-profit sector, where she has many years’ experience of administration and working directly with Members and service users.

Debbie Putland

Operations Manager

Debbie works closely with everyone at Head Office to ensure all the processes and procedures work in member’s best interests and operate efficiently. Debbie also takes the organisational lead of the Annual General Meeting and Annual Conference along with the production and delivery of The Arthritis Action News. On the practical level she ensures that the office runs smoothly.

Iza Seabrook

Fundraising Manager

Iza joined in February 2019 and is responsible for developing fundraising across the organisation. Iza has close to twenty years of experience across the charity sector, having worked in international development, women’s rights, medical research and with the armed services. She is a trained Classical Archaeologist and keen photographer.

Ruth Smith

Area Co-ordinator

Ruth joined in July 2018 and is responsible for coordinating the charity’s activities in the Midlands and the North. Ruth’s background is in project and event management for charities and the public sector, and she also has experience in volunteering for various charities.

Terry Urbanczyk

Member Services Manager

Terry joined the team in October 2018 and is responsible for working with the membership team in the delivery of a personalised service to the Members. For the last 5 years Terry has worked in the charity sector delivering a personalised member service to grassroots sports organisations across the UK. He enjoys speaking to people about what they need and how the charity can provide support.

David Vaux

Therapies Manager & Exercise Lead

David joined the Team in September 2017 as the Therapies Manager. He is responsible for managing our Therapies/Associated Practitioner Service to Members and leading on research into the best evidence-based therapies for people with arthritis. With a lifelong interest in performance from sport to the arts, David has worked as conditioning coach/medical team member to the England T Rugby Squad and many other household names, including his most recent work at the 2017 London World athletics championships, as part of the International Athletics Association medical team. A Registered Osteopath, conditioning coach and occupational health and fitness expert, David also sits at committee level for several UK health care associations.

Graham Weir

Company Secretary

Graham is an accountant, responsible for the Charity’s financial administration and reporting, and for ensuring that it is compliant with all corporate statutory and regulatory requirements. Before joining the Charity, Graham worked in Corporate Banking for over 20 years.

Marc Williams

Area Co-ordinator

Marc joined in July 2019 to coordinate the Charity’s activities in East Anglia. Marc has spent the last two years coordinating a Diabetes Prevention Programme in Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and East Midlands. He is also a Personal Trainer and Sports Massage Therapist.