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Our board

Our board decides our national strategy and priorities, provides scrutiny and oversight, and approves the framework we put in place to help us carry out our activities.

Our board is made up of:

  • people appointed directly by Welsh Ministers through the public appointments process
  • the 7 chairs of the CHCs across Wales
  • our chief executive
  • an elected staff member

Our board members report any interests or activities that may relate to the NHS or the activities of our Board.  This includes, for example, connections with a voluntary or other body or a position in a political party.

Our current members are:

Alyson Thomas, Chief Executive

Alyson joined the Community Health Council movement in May 2015, where she worked as Chief Officer at Hywel Dda Community Health Council.  In 2016, she took on the role of Chief Executive at the Board of Community Health Councils on a job share basis, a successful arrangement that continues to be rare at senior levels. She took on the role full time in 2019.

She is committed to encouraging and enabling members of the public to be actively involved in decisions affecting the design and delivery of health and care services for their families and local communities. She has been a public servant for over 35 years.

For most of the last 15 years, Alyson’s work has focused on the NHS in Wales. She has been an independent reviewer of the leadership and governance of NHS Trusts and Local Health Boards in Wales, a governance advisor working on the 2009 NHS reforms in Wales, and a Director at Healthcare Inspectorate Wales.

Alyson lives near Swansea with her husband, 1 of her 2 adult children and her pet labrador Phoebe.

John Pearce, Board Chair

John’s professional background is mainly in the public sector and in particular local government, as a Director of Education and later as a Corporate Director.

He was a public appointment as a member of the Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council from 2010 to 2018, the last 3 years as the Chair.  During this time he has been engaged within the health sector on a number of different committees, working groups and research projects.

David Collington, Powys CHC Chair

I have lived in the Caersws area in Montgomeryshire since 2001 when we moved here with our family to be closer to my wife’s parents. I am an active member in the local community being a local community councillor and board member of a local arts centre in addition to my role with the CHC. Over the years I have been associated with a number of choirs and choral societies though, sadly, this has been affected by the Pandemic.

I retired at the end of 2015 after a career in Business Management and Information Systems, latterly with IBM and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Over the years I have worked on projects with many well-known companies in the private sector and a number of central government departments.  My work involved a large amount of travel and it was only following my retirement that I was able to commit more time to voluntary work in the local community.

Until a few months ago, we expected Frances Hunt to continue in the role of Chair for Powys CHC until transition to the new ‘Citizens Voice Body’ in 2023. Sadly, However, Frances needed to stand down early for personal reasons and I am delighted that members elected me as the new Chair in November 2021. I believe that in these challenging times the continuity I bring, having been Vice-Chair since 2018, means we can go through this period of transition with a minimum of disturbance to the service we continue to deliver for the people of Powys and move towards implementation of the new Citizen’s Voice Body in April 2023.

Management of COVID remains a key challenge to society and will be for some time to come. As an organisation that thrives on engagement and contact with the public, it is a testament to staff and members of the CHC that we have worked to find ways to continue supporting the NHS and patients in these difficult times.

Hugh Pattrick, Swansea Bay CHC Chair

Hugh is a retired children’s guardian and represented the interests of children in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea were subject to care and other proceedings in family court over 20 years. He was awarded the MBE for services to Cafcass Cymru.  Previously a child and family social worker, Approved Social Worker (Mental Health) and one time social worker in charge of a children’s home specialising in preparing young people leaving care, he has a wide practical experience of the needs of people who are being looked after away from home and the standards that need to be maintained.

He is also a School Governor and Vice-Chair of Governors Wales the organisation representing the interests of school governors throughout Wales.

For over 20 years he has visited police custody suites in South Wales as a Custody Visitor to monitor the conditions and code of practice for the care of detainees who are in police custody and he also provides a similar service for court custody suites and the vehicles transferring prisoners to Court.

Jackie Allen, North Wales CHC Chair

Widowed with three sons, I retired early to look after my husband. Worked for a British Gas for 10 years and ended my working life as a Legal administrator, involved with the legal aid franchises and contracts.

I have volunteered with various organisations for over 40 years and I’m currently a School Governor, a local Councillor. 

I also Chair 5 other organisations, representing them on other committees.
My CHC history;

•    Appointed Chair of the Wrexham Local Committee 2013 – 2014 and reappointed for the period 2014 – 2015, but stepped down as appointed Vice Chair of Full Council;
•    Appointed Vice Chair of Full Council 2014 – 2015;
•    Appointed Chair of Full Council 2015 – 2016, 2016 – 2017 and 2017 – 2018 
•    A member of the Board of CHCs in Wales for the period 2015 – 2018 having being Vice Chair for the period 2017 – 2018;
•    Wrexham local committee representative on the Visiting and Monitoring Group 2014 – 2020 having chaired the group since September 2014 – 31 March 2020; and
•    Wrexham local committee representative on the Services Planning Committee since April 2014 – 31 March 2020, having chair the committee 2015 – 2018.
•    Appointed as a Third Sector member 2020
In addition I have represented the NWCHC on a number of external groups, including but not limited to, the BCUHB Stakeholder Reference Group, Infection Prevention and Control Committees, WAST Liaison Committee and undertook numerous visits to healthcare premises. 

John Beecher, Cwm Taf Morgannwg CHC Chair

Having lived in the area for some years, I have been involved with the community in a number of ways both in my professional and private life.  Community Councillor for Pontypridd Town Council, Member of the Board of Governors for two local schools, working with both the CHC’s and patient representative groups, member of the St John local Council.  Currently I am a member of Cwmbach Male Voice Choir. 

I have a particular interest in both emergency care and care of the elderly.  As part of my Diploma in Management,  I spent some time on a study tour in the Netherlands.  I was particularly interested in the quality of care provided and the way older people were treated, regarding dignity and respect.  Lessons that have remained with me.  I still possess a passion in this area of health provision, believing that a holistic approach in medicine recognises that wellbeing is a correlation of medical, psychological, social, economic and emotional factors and that challenging health provision in a constructive way leads to improved standards.  Local people deserve an advocacy service that is both visible and transparent. 

In my previous NHS occupation, my own company and on a voluntary basis I have had experience of working as a member of a team.  Whilst working for the NHS I have acted as both chairman and as a member of a number of local, national and international committees.   I have worked with both focus teams and as a committee member to solve problems of both micro and macro significance. 

Malcolm Latham, South Glamorgan CHC Chair

In 1972, Malcolm joined the NHS as a biomedical scientist before moving into NHS general management.  In general management, his roles included information management and the delivery of general medicine and surgical and anaesthetics specialty services.

In 1997, Malcolm joined the Wales Audit Office’s predecessor organisation District Audit as a Performance Management and Audit specialist working in both the NHS and Local Government. In 2003, he became the Health and Social Care Team Manager responsible for the delivery and development of performance audit across Wales.

Following the formation of the Wales Audit Office in 2005, Malcolm took on The Role of Head of Programme Office then took on a performance audit delivery role in local government in 2007. In 2009 Malcolm moved back into health service performance audit as a Performance Audit Manager until his retirement in June 2014.

During his Career in the Wales Audit Office, Malcolm has led and contributed to a variety of national and local audit topics including, hospital catering and nutrition, the consultant contract, primary care prescribing, medicines management in secondary care, assistive technology, Welsh wheelchair services, hospital cleaning, special education needs, managing exclusion and school attendance, outpatient services, day surgery provision and the delivery of a health board’s  structured assessment over three years. 

In his spare time, Malcolm is an active scout leader and Rotarian.  In 2012 he was President of the Cardiff East Rotary Club and for the last four years has been supporting scout leaders as an Assistant Chief Commissioner for Wales.

Mansell Bennett Hywel Dda CHC Chair

I retired in 2015 after 45 years in the National Health Service.  I started my career in 1970 as a Medical Laboratory Technician at Cardiff Royal Infirmary and moved to the University Hospital of Wales in 1976.  

I specialised in Haematology and after gaining my fellowship of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences I moved to Glangwili Hospital as a Senior Biomedical Scientist in Haematology in 1986.
In 1992 I obtained a Masters Degree in Management and progressed to a number of management posts starting as Pathology Manager at Glangwili Hospital and culminating as a General Manager in Hywel Dda University Health Board managing services across the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.
When I retired I wanted to continue my interest in health matters and after seeing firsthand the Community Health Council could be in shaping health services I became a Co-opted member in 2016 and applied successfully to be a Welsh Government appointed member in 2017.
I was honoured to be elected Chairman of Hywel Dda CHC in 2018 and I am now in my third term as Chair.

I have enjoyed every minute of my time with the CHC forging good relationships with the Health Board and scrutinising them accordingly.  

The year 2020 was and still is in 2021 a difficult period for the health service with the pandemic and I was very proud to see how the NHS faced the crisis and how the CHC have managed to carry out its duties with the help of a small number of office staff and its volunteer members.
We are moving into a new era for the CHC with the advent of the Citizens Voice Body and I look forward to inputting into the process to ensure that the positives of the CHC is carried forward into the new body which will incorporate Social Services.

The work of the CHC should not be underestimated and I like to communicate as often as possible its worth to the public.

Meri Huws, Independent Member

Meri was born in Carmarthen.  She received her education at Fishguard County Secondary School, before studying a degree in Law and Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.  She studied for a postgraduate degree at St Ann College Oxford and then trained to be a social worker. She commenced working in higher education in the 1980s; she lectured at Normal College, Bangor, and Newport College of Higher Education before working for a period at Dublin City University.

In 1999 she moved to work at Bangor University as Head of Lifelong Learning and later became Pro Vice-Chancellor. She moved to the University of Wales Trinity St. David in 1999 and was Pro Vice Chancellor until being appointed as Welsh Language Commissioner in April 2012.  Before being appointed as Commissioner she chaired the Welsh Language Board from 2004 to 2011. Her statutory tenure as Welsh Language Commissioner ended on the final day of March 2019.

Meri is a member of Shelter Cymru Board; the Council of Aberystwyth University; VTCT trustees; Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and is a member of the Lord Chancellor Recruitment Advisory Committee on Magistrates. She is Vice President of the National Library of Wales and on April 1, 2020 was appointed President for a twelve month period.

Sarah Finnegan-Dehn, Independent Member

Sarah has had a varied and successful career of more than thirty years in the Career Guidance sector. She now works as a freelance consultant and is a qualified executive coach and mentor.
She held a number of senior positions in Careers Wales including Chief Executive of Careers Wales North West, and subsequently had a national role as director of strategic development for Careers Wales. She led developments on a range of issues including digital transformation, quality assurance and training and development. She was a peer assessor for Estyn She also has significant experience in managing organisational development and change with both the unification of Careers Wales companies into one organization and the merger of UK careers related professional bodies. 

As a strategic leader she has served at board level in both executive and non-executive roles. As a senior leader in Careers Wales she sat on both regional and national boards.
Her voluntary roles have included being elected as president of the UK Institute of Career Guidance (ICG) and she was a founding director of the Career Development Institute (CDI) the largest professional body for Career Guidance in the UK. She is currently deputy chair of the board of trustees for Prime Cymru, the charity that supports enterprise, volunteering training and employment for older workers in Wales. 

Her career has been largely focused on leading in organizations supporting individuals with career development and helping them fulfill their potential. She has seen the huge impact that health can have on opportunity and aspiration. She is delighted to be using the skills and experience she has built up to support the Board of the Community Health Council. She regards health and the provision of high quality health services as top priorities for Wales. She feels privileged to be contributing to the Community Health Council movement as one of the  independent members and is pursuing her role with interest and enthusiasm.

Originally from Brighton, she has lived in Anglesey for over 30 years and is a fluent Welsh speaker. She has two grown up children.

Sue Irlam, Officer Member

Originally from Manchester, Sue was employed by one of the largest housing associations in England, where she was responsible for developing and implementing resident engagement; with 23,000 tenants to involve that was no mean feat, but Sue loves a challenge.  Sue also served as Vice Chair of the Staff Council and a member of the Organisational Change Task and Finish Group.

Sue moved to North Wales in 2004, to take up the role of Housing Advice Co-ordinator with the Citizens Advice Bureau Gwynedd and De Ynys Môn. She was subsequently appointed Training Officer and was solely responsible for facilitating, co-ordinating and delivering bespoke training for the volunteers.  She qualified as a CAB Generalist Adviser and often ‘went back to the floor’ when duty called.

Sue has worked for the North Wales Community Health Council since August 2007, first being employed as the Office Manager for the former Meirionnydd CHC and more recently as the Business Manager for the North Wales CHC following the changes made in 2010.

Sue was appointed Secretary Society of CHC Staffs in Wales in November 2006.  During her tenure, she was heavily involved with the reorganisation of CHCs in Wales helping to arrange the all Wales staff conference in Llandrindod Wells. As Secretary Sue represented staff on the Board of CHCs in Wales until March 31st 2010 and went on to be appointed the Staff representative on the Board from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2012.

Whilst on maternity with her daughter, now 14 years of age, Sue was bored and needed something to keep the old grey matter active, so enrolled in Welsh classes.  She’s come a long way from, “Parot dw i” and has studied Welsh to the equivalent of ‘A’ level.  

Sue lives in Dolgellau with her long-suffering partner Alan; she has two children a daughter who is in year 10 at the local secondary school in and a grown up son who is doing his Masters degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University whilst working with the ladies rugby team at Loughborough; she also has a beautiful grandson who is almost 2 and half.

Outside of work Sue enjoys cooking, reading, gardening and walking and is hoping to walk the Wales coast remotely this year.  Sue is also looking forward to restarting teaching her tap classes as and when safe to do so

Board of Community Health Councils in Wales, 3rd Floor, 33 - 35 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HB
Phone: 02920 235 558 Email:

This page is also available in Welsh. Please click on ‘Cymraeg’ at the top of the page
We welcome correspondence in Welsh, and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to delay