RCN Council members
The people who make up the RCN's governing body
Dr Denise Chaffer, President
Denise is currently the Director of Safety and Learning for the NHS Resolution (formally known as NHSLA). Over a 40 year career in nursing and midwifery, Denise has held a number of senior leadership roles within the NHS, including as Executive Director of Nursing in two Acute Trusts, a PCT cluster and NHS England’s North West London regional team.
Denise has been an active member of the RCN for much of her career, regularly attending Congress for over 30 years. She has held a number of roles within the RCN including as Chair of the RCN Midwifery Society and as a Branch Public Relations Officer. Denise also worked for the RCN from 1997-2000 as UK National Adviser for Education, advising on issues at Government and national bodies level, and supporting the Association of Nursing Students.
Tracey Budding, Deputy President
Tracey has worked on the NHS frontline for over 35 years, from Health Care Assistant to a Modern Matron. Her current nursing specialism is Neonatal Intensive Care. Tracey has held many roles within and across the organisation since attending her first congress in 2002, from chairing Boards to National Committees. Tracey played an active role in her previous terms on RCN Council and was involved in developing and changing the governance structures which have affected members in local, regional and national arenas. Locally she is the lead RCN Steward & Safety Representative and interim Staff-Side Chair.
Carol Popplestone, Yorkshire & The Humber, Interim Chair of Council
Carol has been a registered nurse since 1978. She works as a clinical nurse specialist for Macmillan developing and providing a nurse-led service for patients with urological cancers. Carol is an accredited RCN steward and was a member of the RCN UK Stewards Committee from 2013 to 2016. Carol has also previously served as a member of the RCN Council from 2016 to 2019, as chair of the RCN Yorkshire & the Humber Board and was a member of the RCN Trade Union Committee.
Geoffrey Walker OBE, South West, Interim Vice Chair of Council
Geoffrey is a matron with a background in critical care and cardiology. He has developed an award-winning nurse-led unit and has been recognised with an OBE and the British Journal of Nursing’s Nurse of the Year Award. An active RCN Steward he is also Chair of the RCN’s Dorset branch. He has been an elected member of the National Council of the Red Cross and is Honorary Vice-President of the Florence Nightingale Foundation.
Professor Rod Thomson FRCN, West Midlands, Honorary Treasurer
Rod initially studied psychiatric nursing before training in general nursing and as a health visitor. As well as working in Scotland, the North West and West Midlands of England, his research and public health roles have taken him as far afield as Australia, Japan, Canada and the USA. He is a member of the European Commission’s Expert Advisory Panel. He has recently retired as Director of Public Health in Shropshire but continues to volunteer at a hospice in Shrewsbury. Rod was a member of the RCN North West Board from 2002 to 2010, Vice Chair of Congress from 2006 to 2010 and Chair of Congress from 2010 to 2014. Most recently he was RCN Deputy President from 2015 to 2018. He was awarded the RCN Fellowship in 2002. He is also a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health.
Jesudass Johnselvan, Eastern
Jes works as a team leader for theatres at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust building on over 20 years' experience supporting surgical patients. He recently completed an MSc in healthcare management having gained his BSc (Hons) in leadership and management in health and social care in 2017. He is the current staff side chair, as well as having been a staff governor at Southend Hospital. Jes is Chair of the RCN's Essex branch, and has been a member of the RCN Eastern Board.
Mel Kerr, East Midlands
Mel currently works as a Resuscitation Practitioner within United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust and has truly found her niche and passion within healthcare in this role. She has also been an accredited RCN Steward since 2017, sits on her Trust's Staff Side and is the Branch Chair for North Lincolnshire. Mel is incredibly passionate about advocacy within healthcare; for patients, colleagues, and of course for members within the RCN. Mel has also recently been highly involved in the Fair Pay for Nursing and Safe Staffing Campaigns, spreading the word through local and regional media outlets about the RCN's mission to achieve fair working conditions and a meaningful pay rise within the NHS. She has only been qualified for 5 years, and particularly active within the RCN since 2016, but relishes the wonderful opportunity to work within RCN Council and to be at the forefront of change within healthcare for the membership.
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Michael Appleby, Northern
Michael currently works as the Mental Capacity Act Lead Nurse at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and before that worked as a Professional Nurse Teaching Fellow. He worked for many years in the community as a nurse. Michael has worked within the National Health Service for over 35 years, starting as a Healthcare Assistant before qualifying as a nurse in 2002. Michael is very active within the RCN and has held positions as the Chair of the Northern Board and Chair of County Durham Branch. He has also held national seats for the Northern region on the Trade Union Committee and the UK Stewards Committee.
In his personal life, Michael is married with two grown-up children and one special little granddaughter. He enjoys most sports and supports his local village football team.
Fiona Devlin, Northern Ireland
Fiona qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1989. Her main area of expertise lies in adult community nursing but she has held posts at staff nurse, sister/team leader and manager level in both acute and community settings, as well as in the independent sector. She worked as a professional and practice development nurse within the Northern Health & Social Care Trust before secondment as an accredited representative within the Trust. Fiona is an RCN Steward and an active member within her local Branch. From 2013 to 2017 Fiona was an RCN Council member and she sat on the RCN Trade Union Committee from 2018 to 2019. She has been the lead for the RCN Northern Ireland Community Nursing Network since 2013. Fiona is Chair of the RCN Northern Ireland Board.
Dave Dawes, North West
Dave has a long history of being actively involved in the RCN, first serving on RCN Council as a nursing student almost 30 years ago. This is now his eighth year on RCN Council, having served in four different decades - the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. He is a former Chair of the RCN North West Board and has served as a forum chair, branch officer and an RCN Congress Agenda Committee member over the years. Most recently he has been the Honorary Treasurer of RCN Council. Dave is the Director of Possibilities at the Angelfish Community, a social enterprise supporting social entrepreneurs across the UK and a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has over 25 years' experience in hospital and community care in both the NHS and in the independent sector and significant expertise in board and financial governance.
Geoff Earl, Scotland
Geoff was elected Chair of Governance Support Committee in January 2020. Geoff has worked as a community mental health nurse for the Lothian Health Board since 2004. He has been an RCN Steward since 2000, and has been involved with the RCN Scotland Board since he was a student nurse. Geoff was a member of the RCN Agenda Committee 2011 – 2015, and he served on the RCN International Committee from 2014 to 2019. He was honoured with the RCN Award of Merit in 2013.
Jeremy Benton, South East
Jeremy qualified in 2004 and has worked in a number of settings including flight nursing, critical care and high dependency units in the NHS and independent sector in the UK and overseas.. He has been involved with the RCN since he was a nursing student and has been a student steward, a workplace steward, staffside chair and branch chair.
Richard Jones MBE, Wales
Richard has over 46 years’ experience in nursing and nurse education. Between 1990 and 2010 he worked for RCN Wales, latterly as the Deputy Director and Head of Employment Relations, with responsibility for introducing Agenda for Change into the NHS in Wales for RCN members. He works sessionally as an external peer reviewer inspecting NHS hospitals across Wales and sits on mental health panels for detained patients reviewing their mental health sections. He is currently Vice Chair of the RCN Wales Board and President of the RCN's Cwm Taf Morgannwg branch.
Evan Keir, Nursing Support Worker
Evan is a Health Care Support Worker in mental health in NHS Dumfries and Galloway. He was accredited as an RCN Safety Representative in 2016 and more recently as a Steward. Evan is a trustee of two charities within the Scout movement.
Shaun Williams, Student
Shaun is currently a student learning disability nurse at Keele University, prior to this he has been a support worker in health and social care. He is an alumnus of the Council of Deans’ 150 Future Leaders of Health Programme. He is neurodiverse and has an active interest in promoting diversity, inclusion, and co-production in both education and employment.
BJ Waltho, Chair of Congress (Non-voting member of Council)
BJ is Associate Director of Operations at Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. She was first elected onto the RCN Agenda Committee in 2011, subsequently serving two terms as Vice Chair of Congress before being elected as Chair of Congress in 2018. She chaired the RCN Dorset branch 2007 – 2017. She was given the RCN Award of Merit in 2005 for work she had done as Chair of the Outpatients Nurses Forum.