Our Staff

Our Staff


  • Mr R Gethen Smith BEng MA (Chair)
  • Mr G Dallas
  • Mr C Fellows
  • Mr P Sylva FCA FCIS
  • Ms J Hanafie
  • Ms K Welford


Mr John Craven OBE


The Rt Hon The Lord de Mauley TD FCA


Professor D Knottenbelt OBE BVM&S DVMS Dip ECEIM MRCVS

The Lady Slynn of Hadley SRN

Company Secretary



  • Dr M L Hughes BSc (Hons) MBA PhD (Chair)
  • Mr G R H Helmer BSc (Hons) FCA (Deputy Chair)
  • Dr J Boyd BSc (Hons) MSc PhD PGCHE FHEA MRSB
  • Mr Rob Gethen Smith BEng (Hons) MA
  • Mr G Parker BSc
  • Ms Melissa Liszewski BSc MSc
  • Ms Monica Blagescu MA
  • Ms Sarah Shanks BVSc MPH MFPH MRCVS
  • Ms Marilise Saghbini MA

Paul Sylva – Acting Chief Executive/Director of Finance

A chartered accountant from New Zealand, Paul worked for a number of commercial organisations before moving into the charity sector. Within the sector he has held various finance roles in a number of charities including Brain Research Trust, Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity and Victim Support, before joining SPANA in 2017. He is responsible for the finance, human resources and administration functions at SPANA.

David Bassom – Director of Fundraising and Marketing

David leads all aspects of work to generate voluntary income, brand awareness and support for SPANA. Prior to joining the charity in 2017, David served as Director of Fundraising and Marketing at the Royal National Children’s Foundation and Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at Barnardo’s. He has also held head of marketing and communications roles at Blind Veterans UK, the NSPCC and Girlguiding UK. David’s work in the charity sector has earned several accolades, including PRCA, IOIC and Fundraising Magazine Awards, as well as a CharityComms Inspiring Communicator Award. David began his career in journalism, contributing to national and local titles including The Guardian, Radio Times and Heat.

Dr Ben Sturgeon – Director of Services

Dr Sturgeon leads the work of SPANA’s core services, which encompasses our global provision of veterinary care, community training, humane education and emergency support. Ben worked in a consultancy role for several years on SPANA’s behalf before joining the charity in 2017. Ben previously lectured at Dublin and Edinburgh Universities before entering private equine practice for 16 years. He represented BEVA sitting on the Welfare council and Medicines council. He is published in Equine Infectious disease and in Orthopaedic disease. He is certified in Equine Practice, Equine Sports Medicine and is a member of the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians.