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Our people

Our staff

We are a dedicated and motivated team committed to achieve positive outcomes for our beneficiaries in support of our strategic objectives. In particular, working according to our core values, striving to be responsive to seafarers in need, demonstrating compassion and respect for the individual, valuing our partner organisations, seeking continuous improvement and always acting with integrity.

Sandra Welch

CEO

Sandra joined Seafarers Hospital Society in 2020 at an interesting and exciting time in its history as it moves towards its bicentenary in 2021.

Initially trained as a music teacher, Sandra later gained a Theology Degree at the University of Aberdeen, as well as gaining a masterā€™s degree in human resource management. She brings versatility and depth of experience to Seafarers Hospital Society, having occupied a variety of senior roles, including six years at Sailorsā€™ Society, initially as director of programme and then chief operating officer with overall responsibility for the creation and development of crew welfare and wellbeing programmes and community development projects for seafaring communities in 26 countries.

Riina Poutanen

Operations Manager

Riina joined the Seafarers Hospital Society in June 2021. She has a close association to the Maritime industry and is pleased to be working in an organisation that supports seafarers and their families in a very pragmatic way. Riina felt immediately connected to the wonderful cause.

In this role Riina will manage the operational, HR and Governance aspects of the organisation. She has a background in a Cosmetic Retail Industry with strong experience in HR, Project Management and Operations Management on a national level; having responsibilities where she was able to incorporate her structured nature. Ā 

Riina completed her Executive MBA in the University of Greenwich and lives walking distance from Greenwich Village, you can often find her strolling through the park to/from work.  

Laura Voicke

Grants Officer

Laura joined the Seafarers Hospital Society in July 2023 as a Grants Officer. In her role, she will be assessing and processing any grant applications that come into the charity, answering enquires that come in, as well as closely working with caseworkers from affiliate maritime organisations. 

Laura brings her knowledge, experience, and skills from her previous work within grant-giving in the charity sector. Prior to this, she had a background working in finance, funding and administration within the higher education and secondary education sectors. She is delighted to be working for one of the oldest maritime charities, that supports such an important and worthy cause.

Laura previously attended the University of Greenwich where she completed her BSc Hons Psychology with Counselling.

Joseph Sullivan

Communications Officer

Joseph joined the Seafarers Hospital Society in February 2023 as a Communications Officer, overseeing media and communications activity including press releases, newsletters, website and blog updates, media relations, social media strategy and content creation.

Josephā€™s extensive background in media includes several years of valuable experience across major advertising agencies in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as a career as a freelance journalist. In recent years, his writing has focused on geopolitics, conflict, and humanitarianism, as well as under-reported stories of criminal activity at Sea.

Joseph is a current 2nd-year student at the University of Greenwich, where he is studying for a BA Hons degree in Languages and International Relations. As a keen traveller with a love of the outdoors, he can often be found exploring in his spare time.

Kevin Adimado-Coffie

Administrative Assistant

Kevin joins SHS with a wealth of administrative experience and skills developed across a range of industries including research, engineering, healthcare and education.Ā Kevin previously undertook a year in industry at Aston University whilst studying, where he worked for a not-for-profit college. In this role, he developedĀ a passion for charitable causes, which has helped him feel connected the Seafarers Hospital Societyā€™s mission and values.

Our trustees

Our trustees provide essential governance and support to the Seafarers Hospital Society. We are grateful for their voluntary work and expertise.

Find out about the general roles and responsibilities of our trustees by reading their individual bios.

Captain Kuba Szymanski, InterManager Secretary General

Chair

Captain Kuba Szymanski is the Secretary General for InterManager, the international trade association for the ship and crew management sector.

A graduate of the Maritime University of Szczecin with a Masterā€™s Degree, he began his maritime career in 1985 as a deck officer with Dorchester Maritime Limited Isle of Man where he sailed gas/chemical/product tankers, reaching his first command as a Master in 1999.

Attaining a Certificate in Ship Superintendence at Lloyds Academy and an MBA at the International Business School, Isle of Man and John Moores University (JMU) Liverpool, his roles ashore included Marine Superintendent, HSEQ Manager, Fleet Manager and General Manager.

He was appointed Secretary General of InterManager in January 2010, participates in many industry-wide projects particularly relating to seafarers, and is a familiar face on the international maritime lecture circuit. He also lectures on ship management at the International Business School, Isle of Man.

In 2011 Kuba joined the TK Foundation, which supports non-profit maritime and youth programs, and he currently chairs its HR and Renumeration Committee.

In July 2018 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Solent Southampton University in recognition of his contribution to the maritime industry.

In April 2022 Capt Szymanski took up the additional role of Chair of the Board of the 200-year-old Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS), the UKā€™s oldest maritime charity. SHS provides a range of health and welfare services to UK-based seafarers and their dependants.

In his leisure time, Kuba is a keen yachtsman and races sails his BeneteauĀ First 40.7 competitively around Europe, mostly double or single handed.

Dr Charlotte Mendes da Costa MBBS MRCGP MFHOM

Deputy Chair

A trustee of the Seafarers Hospital Society since 2009, Charlotte has strong family connections with the Society as a relative, John Lydekker, who died in 1832, was a generous benefactor. Several family members have served as trustees, including her father, Anthony Lydekker and her great grandfather Captain Guy Lydekker.

Charlotte is a qualified doctor and works as a GP in the NHS and has a particular interest in prevention of disease, holistic and complementary medicine. As such she is well placed to take a strong interest in the health and wellbeing of seafarers and supports the work of the Society in all aspects, but especially with regard to its health projects.

As well as working in a busy General Practice and having a private practice specialising in homeopathic medicine, Charlotteā€™s other charitable work includes serving on the Parochial Church Council for her local church where she is also a church warden.

David Appleton

David Appleton went to sea in 2004 as a cadet with P&O Nedlloyd. After completing his cadetship serving on containerships with P&O Nedlloyd and Maersk Line he sailed as a 3rd Officer with Princess Cruises.

After coming ashore in order to spend more time with his family he joined Nautilus International in 2013 where as Head of Professional & Technical he leads on all matters relating to seafarer safety, training and certification for the Union which involves representing the interests of seafarers at the national, European and international level including as a representative of the International Federation of Shipmasters Associations (IFSMA) at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).  

In 2018 he obtained a Masters degree in Maritime Operations and Management and is a trustee of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and the Maritime Educational Foundation. He is also Chair of the Dreadnought Standing Joint Policy Committee.  

Mark Carden

Mark Carden is the Assistant National Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). He is a dedicated and committed trade unionist who works with skill and determination to ensure fair pay and conditions for RMT members. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic he has worked tirelessly to secure the safety of all transport workers.

Long before it became a matter of public concern, Mark was keenly interested in the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers. He was heavily involved with the creation of the current Mental Health Awareness course for seafarers and continues to work to raise awareness of mental health issues in the maritime sector.  

Mark has been a trustee of the Seafarers Hospital Society for many years. He also sits on the boards of a number of other maritime charities and is dedicated to helping those within the maritime and seafaring communities.

Dr Tim Carter

Tim Carter has had a career specialising in the prevention of occupational health risks. He has worked both in industry and in government. For 15 years he was the senior doctor in the Health and Safety Executive.

More recently he has advised on transport safety, especially the health of seafarers. In the UK, he was medical adviser to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

He also worked internationally, as a special adviser to United Nation agencies and as a professor at the Norwegian Centre for Maritime and Diving Medicine.

Rupert Chichester

Rupert Chichester has been a solicitor for many years and is a partner in a London law firm. He specialises in civil litigation and dispute resolution work.

He has long standing connections to South East London and Greenwich, where the Seafarers Hospital Society is based, and is a trustee both of the Society and a charity in Eltham which runs alms houses for the elderly.  He has also been a director of Greenwich Citizens Advice and a director of the South East London Chamber of Commerce.

Captain Rachel Dunn MNM

Rachel Dunn started her career as a cadet with Shell Tankers where she served on tankers and bulk carriers and obtained her Masters Certificate of Competency. Rachel left Shell and joined Wightlink as their first female officer, rising to the rank of Senior Master. After a number of years,  she left Wightlink and became an Admiralty Pilot in Portsmouth Harbour where she was able to continue her love of ship handling, mainly piloting naval vessels from an assortment of countries and assisting in the training of the bridge teams.

Rachel is also a Younger Brother of Trinity House and a Trinity House liaison with Portsmouth Sail Training Trust. She was awarded the Victoria Drummond Award in 2011 for raising the awareness of women in the marine industry and the Merchant Navy Medal in 2019 for services to the careers of young seafarers. Rachel became a trustee at the Seafarers Hospital Society in 2018.

Ā 

Graham Lane

Graham is a trustee and Honorary Treasurer at Seafarers Hospital Society and has been with the Society since 2011.

Graham has an accounting background, and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role. He is involved with a number of charities including one in the maritime world.

Dr Frank Leonard

Dr Leonard joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a student in Dundee in 1979 and, after graduating in 1980, enjoyed a wide range of duties with the RN Medical Services in parallel with NHS work.Ā 

He joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Service in 1988, serving in the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic, before becoming Principal Medical Adviser to the RFA, a singleton post, in 1992.Ā Building on lessons from the Falklands conflict and experience in the Gulf, he worked to align the RFA Medical Branch, in operational terms, with that of the Royal Navy (RN), and to establish an effective occupational health function for the RFA which was, and remains, the largest single employer of UK-registered merchant personnel.

Transferring to the RN in 2004, Dr Leonard served as NMOH (Fleet) and PMA RFA until 2006 and became the first Senior Medical Officer (Service Entry), responsible for the application of medical standards for entry to the Royal Navy.Ā From 2010 until retirement in 2016, he was consultant occupational physician at HM Naval Base, Faslane.

Christopher Nairne

After completing a Masters degree in Mathematics, Christopher initially worked as a secondary school teacher; but then in 2009 he changed tack to pursue a freelance career in theatre lighting design. He has worked on hundreds of productions since then, both around the UK and internationally, and been nominated for a number of awards. While continuing his theatre work on the side, Christopher has since 2020 been working full-time as a Signaller for Network Rail, where he is a dedicated RMT member and a passionate advocate for the transport industries. He is also a Freeman of the City of London. In what little spare time remains, he enjoys pub quizzes, racing punting, and occasionally still goes sailing with friends (though not nearly enough).

He joined the Seafarers Hospital Society as a trustee in 2023, and is proud to be the 7th consecutive generation of the Nairne family to have served in support of the Society.

Also in this section

Past projects

Seafarers Hospital Society has run a number of exciting health projects, and innovative pilot programmes. Learn more about some of the past projects.

Read more

Our history

The Seafarers Hospital Society was founded in 1821 as the Seamenā€™s Hospital Society, by a group of philanthropists in response to the increasing number of homeless and impoverished seafarers living on the streets of London after the Napoleonic wars. In 2021 the Society celebrates its bicentenary. Read more about our illustrious history with a walk through our interactive timeline.

Read more

News and publications

The Seafarers Hospital Society offers a selection of free publications which we hope will be of interest to you.

Read more

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