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Dr Joanna Laddie, Parent Adam Smith and Children’s Hospice CEO Toby Porter appointed to Together for Short Lives’ Board of Trustees

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We are thrilled to have appointed three new members to our Board of Trustees. The appointees are bereaved father Adam Smith, Consultant Admiral Nurse for Dementia UK, Dr Joanna Laddie, Consultant in Paediatric Palliative Medicine at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and Toby Porter, CEO of Acorns Children’s Hospices.

Adam, Joanna and Toby joined the Board of Trustees in November 2019, helping to steer our strategy and governance to make sure the UK’s 49,000 seriously ill children and their families can make the most of every moment they have together, whether that’s for years, months or only hours.

On their appointment, Dr Hilary Cass OBE, Chair of Trustees for Together for Short Lives praised the impact the new Trustees were already having: “Although our new Trustees are in the first month of their appointment, it has already been incredibly stimulating to have fresh ideas and new eyes on our work from three such different perspectives. All three are highly respected in their own roles, which gives great confidence amongst our professional, hospice and parent members that the charity is going from strength to strength. As ever when you appoint several new Trustees, you hope that the sum is going to be greater than the parts, and this was so true at our Board meeting this week; the chemistry and dynamism was a foretaste of great times ahead.”

All three are highly respected in their own roles, which gives great confidence amongst our professional, hospice and parent members that the charity is going from strength to strength.

Dr Hilary Cass OBE, Chair of Together for Short Lives

Adam Smith joins the charity’s board as a parent trustee. Alongside Adam’s professional experience he also has poignant personal experience of having a daughter with a life-limiting condition. Adam’s daughter Emily was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a debilitating neurological condition at 17 months old, and she sadly died at the age of three. Emily and her family received support from local hospices and hospice at home teams, which enabled them to make informed decisions about Emily’s care and to make precious memories as a family. Adam is also a registered mental health nurse with over 10 years’ experience working in promoting excellence in dementia and palliative care.  He currently works as a Consultant Admiral Nurse (Specialist Dementia Nurse) in partnership with Dementia UK.

Adam Smith will bring both his personal and professional experience to his new position:

“I feel that my experience as a nurse, and more importantly as a parent and carer, will be extremely useful in helping to make a difference to children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families. It is such a privilege to be able to play a small part in advocating for families like my own, and for children like my beautiful daughter Emily.”

Toby Porter is CEO of Acorns Children’s Hospices He joined the charity in 2016, following three years leading HelpAge International, a global network of organisations working to help older women and men claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty in older age. Prior to joining Acorns, Toby has dedicated his career to humanitarian and development assistance, working for 10 years with Save the Children, and five years before that with Oxfam GB and the medical charity MERLIN. As Global Emergencies Director, he led Save the Children’s response to the Asian Tsunami in 2004, the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, before moving to New Delhi as Director of Programmes for Save the Children India from 2008 to 2011. Earlier in his career, Toby worked in the Rwanda refugee camps in 1994 and 1995 and led Oxfam’s response to the Kosovo crisis in 1999.

On his appointment Toby Porter said:

“I am really delighted to have been given the opportunity to join the Board of Trustees at Together for Short Lives. I can think of no cause more urgent or noble in the UK right now than striving to improve awareness around life-limiting and life-threatening conditions for children and young people, and support for the challenges they bring to children and families experiencing them.  I have a feeling that the past year has seen a genuine sea change in terms of political and public support for this area, and Together for Short Lives should take great credit for the role they have played in bringing this about.”

Dr Joanna Laddie has worked in paediatric palliative care since 2009, having previously started her training in paediatric oncology. She undertook her specialist training at Great Ormond Street Hospital before being appointed as a Consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at Evelina London Children’s Hospital in 2013. Since joining Evelina she has helped to develop the team there which provides in house and outreach palliative care to children in South London and across the South East of England. She is also involved in developing pathways that ensure parallel planning for children requiring long term ventilation and patients being transferred back into the community for withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Joanna also has trained in Ethics and chairs the Guys and St Thomas’s Clinical Ethics Advisory Group.

Joanna is a keen supporter of the work of Together for Short Lives and feels that her experience working in the NHS will help her represent some of the perspectives of this part of paediatric palliative care provision in the UK.

Dr Joanna Laddie added:

“I am excited to join the fantastic team at Together for Short Lives and look forward to being part of the important work that they do in the paediatric palliative care sector and hope that my experiences in the NHS, but also with ethics and mediation, will add to the varied experiences of all the Trustees.”

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