Introducing our trustees
Say hello to The Pear Tree Fund's trustees!
Former nursing sister Jane is a founder member of our charity, who joined forces with Nikki Sawkins to set up HCNCF in 1989 after recognising a gap in provision for people who wished to die at home.
She said: "We hope that the Pear Tree Centre is helping to fill the void which patients and their families can feel when they are first diagnosed with a life-changing illness.
"As well as allowing us to offer services to people living in the very rural area around Halesworth, the centre acts as a listening hub and provides information for all manner of conditions. We hope this will empower patients and their families to make their own informed decisions about their future wishes while feeling supported along the way."
Barbara is another of our very first members, who helped Jane and Nikki set up the charity while working as a practice nurse at Cutlers Hill Surgery. She brought with her extensive healthcare experience after fulfilling in a wide variety of different roles, including as a staff nurse, sister and midwife. The last eight years of her career were spent working in general practice as a specialist nurse supporting patients with life-changing illnesses.
“I am proud of the fact that we have kept our charity going for the last 30 years and very grateful for the amazing support we have had from local people over that time,” said Barbara. “We are a unique charity and our statistics have shown that 90% of our patients who wished to were able to die at home with our help and support.
“I enjoy being able to support patients and their families who want to die at home and – more importantly – being able to give them that choice in the first place.”
Kevin MacLusky - Chairman
Kevin joined us as chairman in April 2018. A GP based at Cutlers Hill Surgery, he has had a long involvement with the charity and seen first-hand the valuable work it does to support patients and carers.
“The charity represents everything that is good about the Halesworth area and sees local people helping each other with very practical support,” said Kevin, who worked in Hertfordshire before moving to Suffolk in 2000. “It also supports our stretched primary health care services.”
Fiona has spent most of her career working in sales, marketing and staff management in a range of different industries. She joined the Pear Tree Fund as a trustee in June 2020.
"I feel privileged to be part of the trustee team," said Fiona. "After years of working in different sectors, I am excited to be able to use my skills where everything you do is for the benefit of patients and families at such an important time in their lives.
"The Pear Tree Fund is so valuable to Halesworth and surrounding areas."
Jane and her husband moved to Suffolk from London more than 25 years ago. She found a niche working as an accountant in the East Anglian poultry industry, culminating in a five years at Bernard Matthews as financial controller for the turkey division. Simultaneously, Jane has worked with several charities and not for profit organisations, the Citizen's Advice Bureau and village trusts.
Jane said: “It’s a pleasure to help the fund move forward in its accounting facilities, which includes moving to a computerised system, taking on an accounts manager and developing management information to support the work done by the centre and its staff."
Dinah joined The Pear Tree Fund in 2017 and brought with her experience of teaching, social services and health, having worked in education, children and youth services, community care and the voluntary sector, both locally and nationally.
She currently teaches twice a year as an honorary senior visiting lecturer at City University, is a fellow of the Dartington Social Policy Unit and vice chair of People in Harmony, a small national charity supporting mixed race people.
“I enjoy the friendship of the other trustees and the involvement in local life that the charity has given me,” said Dinah. “It is good to be working with an organisation which is so important to people at their time of greatest need. I will be very pleased when we are able to provide a more comprehensive service via the Pear Tree Centre.”
A trained nurse and midwife, Nikki spent 28 years as a district nursing sister at Cutlers Hill Surgery before moving to the national Gold Standards Framework team for five years, where she worked as nurse lead and contributed to strategic developments in end-of-life care and dementia across the country.
Nikki is a founder member of our charity. Although she has now retired from full time work in the NHS, she continues to spend one day a week as a supportive care lead nurse in the Louise Hamilton Centre at James Paget Hospital. She also supports local and national developments in healthcare, and played an instrumental role in helping to establish the Halesworth Dementia Carers’ Fund.
“It is so heart-warming to hear that the care and support the charity gives to local families makes a difference to people’s lives at a time they most need it,” said Nikki. “I am very proud of what the charity has achieved over the years and excited about the future with the Pear Tree Centre being able to offer help and support to the wider community.”
Simon moved to Halesworth from south east London in 2018 coinciding with his retirement from a career in the law. After taking a breathing space, he felt he wanted greater involvement in the local community and to use his managerial experience as well as his legal background. He alighted upon the Pear Tree Fund.
“I was invited to join the board of trustees at a time after all the really hard work had been done to get the Pear Tree Centre built and then opened," said Simon. "It is has been an extraordinary project and I’m delighted to be part of its future.
"Plunging immediately into the Covid-19 crisis has brought an unexpected challenge, but at the same time has highlighted why the community needs the Pear Tree Fund and its centre as much, if not more, than ever.”
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