Our Staff

Our Staff


  • Mr R Gethen Smith BEng MA (Chair)
  • Mr G Dallas
  • Mr P Sylva FCA FCIS
  • Ms R Pratt BA RVN
  • Mr 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

Chief Executive

Mr G Dennis BA (Hons) MA

Company Secretary



  • Mr Richard Greenhalgh MA FRSA (Chairman) – Appointed 11th December 2019
  • Professor T R C Greet BVM&S MVM Cert EO DESTS Dip ECVS FRCVS – stepped down as Chair – 11th December 2019 – remaining on the Council
  • Ms O Johnson MCIPD (Vice Chair)
  • Dr J. R. Amory PhD (2) – Resigned 17th September 2018
  • Mr G R H Helmer BSc (Hons) FCA (Hon Treasurer)
  • Dr J Boyd BSc (Hons) MSc PhD PGCHE FHEA MRSB
  • Brig (ret’d) J M Castle OBE – Resigned 1st July 2019
  • Col T Browne LVO – Resigned 1st July 2019
  • Mr Rob Gethen Smith BEng (Hons) MA
  • Dr M L Hughes BSc (Hons) MBA PhD
  • Mr G Parker BSc – Appointed 17th September 2018
  • Ms Hannah Winter BSc – Appointed 17th September 2018
  • Ms Melissa Liszewski BSc MSc– Appointed 11th December 2019
  • Ms Monica Blagescu MA – Appointed 11th December 2019
  • Miss Sarah Shanks BVSc MPH MFPH MRCVS – Appointed 11th December 2019
  • Ms Marilise Saghbini MA – Appointed 11th December 2019

Geoffrey Dennis – Chief Executive

Geoffrey started his career in the commercial sector but decided to change career paths after a visit to Bangladesh. On his return to the UK he joined the British Red Cross as International Director.

The scale of the British Red Cross’s international work doubled during his tenure – Geoffrey led emergency operational teams in locations including Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Following a period leading the International Red Cross / Crescent’s operations in first North Korea and subsequently across the whole of South Asia, he was appointed Chief Executive of CARE International in the UK. After the 2004 tsunami he worked on emergency and reconstruction operations in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, including agricultural and livestock projects.

Dr Stephen Albone – Director of Education Programmes

Stephen has worked at SPANA since 2011 as an advisor for the charity’s overseas humane education programmes. Stephen holds a Master of Philosophy degree in ecology and a Postgraduate Certificate in education. As a qualified teacher, Stephen previously taught in a number of schools before taking up a position at Durham University in the School of Education. At Durham, Stephen undertook academic research in the monitoring and evaluation of educational systems, for which he was awarded a doctorate degree. Stephen has trained with the Humane Society of the United States and holds Humane Education Specialist credentials.

David Bassom – Director of Fundraising

David joined SPANA in October 2017 and leads work to raise vital voluntary funds for the charity. David has previously 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.

Katy Cheney – Director of Operations

Katy leads a new department developing SPANA’s global operations, performance management and impact assessment. Katy is a programme manager by background and has worked across a range of issues including health and welfare improvements, environmental impact and ethical procurement. Katy has worked in the animal welfare sector for over 10 years holding positions at Compassion in World Farming, where she led the corporate engagement programme, and World Animal Protection, where she developed programme operations and external engagement.

Dr Ben Sturgeon – Veterinary Director

Dr Sturgeon worked in a consultancy role for several years on SPANA’s behalf before recently joining the charity. 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.

Paul Sylva – 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.

Dan Tickle – Director of Communications, Content and Emergency Response

Dan leads a department that combines management of SPANA’s communications and content teams with delivery of our emergency response and disaster preparedness projects.

Dan has worked across the voluntary sector in a range of communications and management roles, including Mencap, The Blue Cross, the National Deaf Children’s Society and, most recently, as Chief Executive of the charity No Smoking Day. He joined SPANA in 2011, building a new department which has increased significantly the profile of the charity through media relations, digital communications, content delivery and publications.