Dr Saroj Patel, Chair

Saroj joined Aspire’s Board of Trustees in October 2011 and was appointed as Chair of the Board of Trustees in December 2019.  Saroj Patel

Saroj has been Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust since March 2005.  She joined the NHS in 2003 after more than 20 years of IT industry experience in both the private and public sectors, including development of ICT strategies, programme management, process transformation and solutions delivery.

Since 2005 she has been Director of IM&T and in 2009 she was appointed as the Trust’s Senior Information Risk Officer (SIRO).  In 2011 her role was extended to include Workforce and Corporate Affairs and she subsequently became a voting member of the Trust Board.

Her qualifications include: BSc Statistics and MSc Computer Science (University of London), MBA, Diploma in Marketing, PhD (Cranfield School of Management) and MSP Practitioner.

David Holden, Vice Chair Trustee David Holden

David joined the Board of Trustees in November 2013 bringing with him over 40 years of commercial expertise – mainly in Sales and Marketing, General Management and Business Consultancy, including working for ICL (now Fujitsu) for over 20 years. David now chairs two of the Aspire sub-committees – Fundraising and Marketing and Leisure Services. During his business career he was also a Trustee of other charities and chaired a number of non-departmental public initiatives in the Creative Industries and Education. He is also a Lords Taverner and a member of the Herts regional committee.

David was first introduced to Aspire through his membership of Porters Park Golf Club and chose Aspire as his nominated Charity during his year as Captain in 2012. Still a single figure handicapper, he was also Director of Cricket at Radlett Cricket Club. He sees an ongoing link between Aspire and Sport, is a passionate supporter of Aspire’s InstructAbility Programme, and he has already introduced a number of wheelchair users to the principles of golf as an inclusive sport.

Married to Fiona, an Executive Coach and Behavioural Management specialist, he has two adult daughters and is a proud grandfather.

Dr Hayder Agha 

Since March 2019 I have been a Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine at the Royal Dr Hayder AghaNational Orthopaedic Hospital.  I have also worked as a Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court and at Salford Royal Hospital NHS Trust, managing patients with Musculoskeletal Back Pain, Spinal Cord Injury and patients involved in severe trauma.

My special interest is in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation (Adult), Musculoskeletal and Trauma Rehabilitation, Spasticity and Pain Management. I am a member of the Medical Educational Committee at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and I am involved in the training of future specialists in the specialty of Rehabilitation Medicine. I am also a member of the Spinal Cord Injury SIG committee - BSRM.

I became a trustee of Aspire in September 2020.

Andy Chaplin Trustee Andy Chaplin

I have been a trustee of Aspire since March 2016.  The aims of Aspire chime very well with my interest in helping to sustain independent living for the more vulnerable, regardless of age, disability or health.

I’m also a trustee of two other charities: Manor Gardens, a community health and wellbeing charity across Islington (Chairman from December 2016) and Electrical Safety First, a national campaigning charity.  Just like Aspire, both of these organisations continue to experience considerable positive change and growth opportunities in their respective areas of focus.

My early working life was spent with Barclays – well all 27 years! That equipped me well with a range of knowledge, skills and experiences that have enabled me to undertake leadership roles developing and delivering services for the vulnerable from with private and third sector organisations – something I have been doing with a number of organisations over the past 13-14 years. Latterly I was heading the national body for Home Improvement Agencies (about 180 mostly not-for-profit organisations, nationally) between 2010 and 2015.

My wife Liz heads up special needs at a local school in the Chalfonts and our youngest son is about to head off to University after completing A levels in 2017. Swimming and walking are the main past-times plus regular cultural top ups to Italy!

Nick Flanagan

Nick joined the Board of Trustees in December 2019 bringing with him 35 years of commercial Trustee Nick Flanaganexperience – mainly in Finance, Strategy and Operations. Most recently Nick was Chief Financial Officer and a Director of Hayward Tyler Group PLC, an AIM-listed engineering group, where he jointly led the IPO of the company in January 2010, its subsequent equity placings, the acquisition of Peter Brotherhood and the sale of the group to Avingtrans PLC in 2017. In addition, he led the refinancing of the group’s debt in 2014 and loan note issues. He was shortlisted for FD of the Year at the 2014 UK Stock Market Awards.

Nick is a graduate engineer from Imperial College and a Chartered Accountant, having qualified with PwC in 1987. Before joining Hayward Tyler in 2008 he spent the previous 14 years in the engineering and manufacturing sectors where he held a number of senior financial roles, initially with Trafalgar House PLC followed by Kvaerner ASA and Jeyes Group Limited. Prior to that he spent six years in corporate treasury with Saatchi & Saatchi Company PLC.

Nick has extensive industry experience in engineering and manufacturing, strategic planning and development, financial planning and development, commercial and operational support, capital raising including equity and debt, debt restructuring, change management, reporting, M&A, working capital management, risk management, corporate governance and operating at board level.

Stephen Gardiner

Stephen has spent a career in the media, initially in radio, and latterly in print and online outlets. Most recently he has used hisAspire trustee Stephen Gardiner communications skills working for a range of charities, NGOs and not-for-profit businesses, particularly in the field of mental health and youth development.

After managing youth cricket teams as his two children grew up, he has been an active member of a cricket club committee as vice-chairman, fundraising and marketing officer and leading on compliance issues. He was a trustee of a body that administered the playing fields of three cricket clubs and two tennis clubs, again leading on bringing its processes into line with Charity Commission guidelines.

At the point of retirement Stephen sustained a spinal cord injury and after surgery was admitted to the Spinal Injury Centre at Stanmore. During his time there he took advantage of the facilities at the Aspire Leisure Centre and became a regular in the swimming pool, the sports hall and particularly on the resistance equipment in the gym. He credits these sessions and the helpfulness of the Aspire staff for a large part of his recovery that has now got him out of a wheelchair and back on his feet.

Stephen will use his experience in leisure services and as a past user of the Aspire Leisure Centre to contribute to the charity as a whole and particularly to the future strategic planning and development of their valuable services for people with Spinal Cord Injury.

Stephen has been a Trustee of Aspire since May 2022.

Cliff Leach

I live in Salisbury in Wiltshire and I’m a retired computer systems and software architect and engineer. My first career was with the Aspire trustee Clive LeachRAF until I had an accident in 1977 which resulted in the paralysis of both my legs.

I went on to build a career in the IT sector working for UK and USA companies and in 1994 I founded and built an IT company focusing on specialist high-security systems.  Over the years I have designed and developed systems in a wide range of sectors including banking and finance, telecommunications, defence and security, and policing and criminal justice.

I understand the reality of building a career and supporting a family as a disabled person.  I have been fortunate in having skills that were independent of my physical limitations, but I am only too aware that many people do not have those options. I now have the time and space in my life to use the skills I have to wider social benefit.

My charitable sector experience includes: being a Trustee for Gosport Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the trustee Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO); providing IT support to Salisbury Museum; and helping to establish Men’s Sheds Association UK, which aims to stop men becoming isolated when they fall out of work, become isolated or retire. I also chaired the Salisbury Branch of REMAP, which builds or modifies equipment to assist disabled people, and became a trained counsellor for the spinal injury charity Back Up.  I helped with the financial planning and management of my local MENCAP group (Andover Hampshire) as it got started and before I sustained my spinal cord injury I worked as a rescue volunteer for the RAF mountain rescue team in Valley North Wales.

I am married with four children and six grandchildren. I love cooking, music, history and the arts. I have built an off-road electric trike and can often be found out in the wilds of the Lake District, Salisbury Plain and the New Forest.

Cliff has been a Trustee of Aspire since May 2022.

Hamisha Mehta

Hamisha has been a Trustee with Aspire since July 2019. Trustee Hamisha Mehta

Hamisha is a graduate from the London School of Economics (LSE) and a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). She was awarded the title of One Young CA 2019 by ICAS and was also winner of the Talent category prize. Hamisha began her career within the audit practice of EY later moving into Consultancy, specializing in Finance Transformation and Change projects. She is currently Senior Commercial Finance Manager at pladis Global, the multinational snacking company behind well-loved brands such as McVitie’s, GODIVA and Ulker

Outside of pladis, Hamisha has held the position of Chair of the Resources Committee for a London primary school. She is also a full-time working mother, a financial advisor to the social enterprise Know You More coaching and member of the ICAS Technology Panel.

Jennifer Sacks

Jennifer is a senior account handler for a top London advertising agency, where she specialises in the delivery of brand updates, Trustee Jennifer Sackssuccessful pitches, and direct marketing campaigns. She started her career as part of the inhouse creative team at luxury retailer Harrods, before making the jump to agency life. Jennifer has worked extensively in financial and professional services marketing, delivering integrated campaigns for a diverse range of clients including Harrods, The AA and KPMG. She is currently working with a new client, a major city law firm, to deliver a re-brand and help them modernise their approach to marketing. 

Jennifer is a full-time working mum and is absolutely thrilled to have joined the board of trustees at Aspire. 

The team