Leadership team

Liam O'Toole

Liam became CEO at Arthritis Research UK in November 2009. Under Liam’s leadership, the charity has undergone transformational change and emerged as a modern, third-sector organisation with the needs of people with arthritis central to everything it does.

In November 2017 Arthritis Research UK merged with Arthritis Care. As CEO of the merged charity, Liam leads an organisation dedicated to having an even greater impact on the millions of people living with arthritis.

Liam also has senior roles across the health and care sector including leading the Richmond Group’s Taskforce on multiple conditions, and as a commissioner on the Royal College of Surgeons’ Commission on the Future of Surgery. He's also a trustee of the Association of Medical Research Charities.

Liam has played a leading role in many of the major changes that have taken place in the UK’s health and medical research landscape over the last decade. He headed up the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR), a joint office funded by the Department of Health and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, set up to develop a more coherent strategic approach to publicly funded health research. Prior to this he spent three years as chief executive of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration and was the first administrative director of the National Cancer Research Institute following 16 years’ experience of research management at the Medical Research Council and the British Diabetic Association (now Diabetes UK).

Adrienne Skelton

I joined the charity in 2015 and am the director of policy and health and social care improvement. Focusing on improving care and support for people with arthritis, we support professionals to provide great care; build the evidence of base of effective interventions (and ensure these get to as many people as possible) and influence change through high quality, focused policy, campaigning and public affairs work.

 

My career so far has focused around social research, impact management and strategic development. I’m passionate about using insight to maximise our impact, building a culture of good decision-making, shared direction and empowered teams to help achieve that.   

 

Before joining the charity, I worked in a range of senior strategy and evidence roles at Macmillan Cancer Support, the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. I love to write, to climb rocks and mountains, and I have great fund with my three young daughters.

Charlotte Guiver

Charlotte joined Arthritis Research UK in 2013 after 15 successful years working in various fundraising roles across the not for profit sector, most recently as director of fundraising and marketing at the British Lung Foundation, where she combined her income generation and marketing knowledge with her passion for health and medical research.  

Before that, Charlotte held senior roles within Arthritis Care and the British Heart Foundation, as well as five years in the publishing sector.  

Charlotte’s priority, along with her team, is to grow, diversify and integrate our income streams to provide the organisation with the resources it needs to deliver it's charitable aims. 

Justin Parfitt

Justin is a chartered accountant with over 15 years’ experience in the not-for-profit and charity sectors. He joined Arthritis Research UK in October 2015 to lead the finance and corporate services directorate in supporting the charity to deliver improved quality of life for people with arthritis.

Before his appointment, Justin was the director of finance and IT at Breakthrough Breast Cancer and subsequently led the financial aspects of the merger of this charity with Breast Cancer Campaign to form Breast Cancer Now in early 2015.

Justin was a member of the executive team responsible for the abolition and transfer of functions of the Hearing Aid Council to the Health Care Professions Council in 2010. He was also a member of the senior leadership team at the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service from inception in 2000, and implemented the transfer of its finance operations to the NHS Business Services Authority when the organisations were merged in 2006.

Justin has a keen interest in music and he's participated in many running events to raise funds for charities.

Nicola Peachey

Following 10 years with the NSPCC as deputy director of HR, Nicola joined Arthritis Research UK in November 2010 to develop and lead the newly created organisational development function. Our people are one of Versus Arthritis' biggest resources and Nicola is responsible for ensuring that everyone can push back against arthritis to the best of their ability. This includes leading on internal communications, learning and development, effective people management and also our culture and how we measure success and progress internally.

Before moving to the not-for-profit sector in 2000, Nicola’s HR career included roles in local government, international publishing and re-insurance, where she gained extensive experience in organisational design, recruitment, business start-ups, expatriate management, reward, retention and major organisational change programmes.

Nicola balances her role at Arthritis Research UK with a busy family life. She's deputy chair of governors for a local primary school

Olivia Belle

Olivia joined Arthritis Research UK in 2012 from Hospice UK, where she led the development of Hospice Care Week, delivered in partnership with local hospices.

She has 20 years’ experience in a variety of communications roles in the charity sector and worked on a number of campaigns, including Dying Matters, Carers Week and the End Child Poverty coalition.

Responsible for raising the profile of arthritis and the organisation as a whole with decision makers and our target audiences, Olivia leads the teams delivering media relations, digital, branding and policy and public affairs work to support our activities and champion the cause.

Stephen Simpson

Stephen is responsible for the development of our research strategy, working closely with our scientific strategy committee, and leads the team responsible for the peer review, management, evaluation and translation of our research.

Stephen joined Arthritis Research UK in July 2012, after four years as director for life sciences at Science Foundation Ireland, where he lead a team of scientific programme managers responsible for delivering major funding across a spectrum of bioscience research in Ireland.

Before this, Stephen spent eight years as a member of the editorial team at the international journal Science, latterly as senior editor responsible for managing the peer review and publication of research in the areas of immunology and other areas of biomedicine.

Stephen’s research specialisation is in immunology and inflammation, having obtained a PhD at the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, before spending nine years as a postdoctoral researcher and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and as a researcher in Ireland and the UK.

Stewart Long

With over 30 years in the charity sector, Stewart has worked at five major charities including the MS Society, RNID and RNIB. Roles have focused on co-design of service interventions that help people with a lived condition to make informed choices and decisions about their care and support. He joins the transformational leadership team from Arthritis Care, which he joined in July 2014 as Director of Nations and Services leading the delivery and development of the charity’s local, national and UK services as well as evolving the charity's volunteering offer through branches, groups and local services.

As Director of involvement and services, Stewart is responsible for guiding the charity wide four nations approach to all our work alongside the establishment of our local, national and UK services offer. In addition, creating the catalyst and momentum for our involvement aspirations, particularly amongst people with arthritis, their family and friends.

Phillipa Williams

Director of comms and marketing – helping us to change how people think about arthritis, making sure it gets the priority it deserves and ensuring that people with arthritis know where to go to access help and support.

She has been with arthritis research uk since 2011, in the comms team before becoming head of coms and now Director of Comms and Marketing.

Her background is in communications, working with charities, public and private sector organisations on campaigns to change our attitudes and behaviours – from protecting our sexual health to tackling digital exclusion and persuading people to stop smoking.

Alexis Cheshire

I joined the charity in September 2018 and am the director of digital, technology and data. I am passionate about technology and how it can be used to enhance the lives of those around us. My career to date has enabled me to work with some amazing people in some amazing locations (from sunny Croydon to rainy Sao Paulo), and I love the challenge of identifying, designing and delivering technology in service of a wider goal.

Before joining the charity, I worked across multiple sectors in many technology leadership roles, including CIO of the UK Scout Association and Group IT Director for a global event organiser