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Hear from our Governors

Hear from our Chair

Mike Elliott, Chair of Coeliac UK, has been a Governor since 2013. Here he shares his thoughts about the Charity and joining the Board of Governors.

Mike Elliot

Coeliac UK is a wonderfully vibrant Charity, concerned with the alleviation of a very serious condition. I have been privileged to serve on the Coeliac UK Board for nearly four years now, and delighted to be invited to serve as Chair. I continue to be impressed by the energy, commitment and achievement of the Charity. There is no time to waste, there is still much to be done!

My niece was diagnosed with coeliac disease whilst at university, a time most of us feel the whole world is available to us. I saw the disappointment and then the realisation that there is help out there, much of it from Coeliac UK. My nephew lives gluten free, undiagnosed, but convinced he has the disease and is reluctant to go through the current diagnosis regime. Whilst I feel their immediate symptoms are under control, both lead a normal, healthy lifestyle, I do worry about the long term impact and complications that may arise in later life. It is important that the Charity continues to devote a portion of its resources to research to better understand the disease and the long term effects.

After a long career in large international businesses, I spent 3 years as a Charity CEO supporting the sector as a whole. I encountered a range of organisations with differing charitable aims, resources and impact. I first met Sarah Sleet during this time and was impressed with the work of Coeliac UK, punching way above its weight. When I was approached to join the Governors in 2012, you can imagine it didn’t take very long for me to say “yes”, especially with my family experiences of the disease.  

The Board is an enthusiastic group with a range of skills and experience, just what you need to ensure good governance and strategic direction. Our policy of maximum terms for Board membership ensure we regularly refresh ourselves through skills audits and open recruitment. It is a real pleasure to work with such a diverse and multi-talented group, all with strong personal reasons to be involved with the Charity. This adds so much positivity to our discussions.

The Charity’s work revolves around three main headings: support, campaigning and research. The Board gets involved in aspects as diverse as European regulatory directives, new technologies for accessing gluten-free products and assessing the latest medical advances in the field. The overriding aim of the Board is to manage the Charity’s scarce resources in ways which deliver the maximum possible benefit for Members. Events such as the AGM are welcome opportunities to talk to Members about the Charity and the way we move forward.

We are always looking for ways to increase the ‘voice’ of the Charity (by leveraging our many relationships) in order to promote better diagnosis rates and maximising the ‘reach’ of the Charity (by extending our Membership numbers) in order to deliver greater economies of scale (and resultant benefits) for our wider Member base.

My thanks go to my Board colleagues, the Executive team led by Sarah Sleet, and to all the employees and volunteers associated with Coeliac UK for devoting their very considerable talents and energies to the worthy and important work of the Charity.

Hear from our Vice Chair

James Chappell has been a Governor since 2015 and Vice Chair of Coeliac UK since 2016. Here he shares his thoughts about the Charity and joining the Board of Governors.

James Chappell

I was delighted to be appointed as a Board Member for Coeliac UK in 2015. Having all three of my children diagnosed as Coeliac from a very young age, we have been living with the disease for the last 11 years. It was great to be able to give something back to the Charity that has helped provide so much support and information.

Considering my background in finance it has been good to be able to contribute to the Charity using those skills on the Audit Committee whilst learning about all aspects of the Charity’s work. I have been incredibly impressed by the enthusiasm and hard work of all within the Charity and this has enabled it to go from strength to strength.

Two things stand out for me in the time I have been on the board and my family has been members of the Charity. Firstly, the ongoing Awareness Campaign which has both increased the diagnosis of coeliac disease and the understanding of the disease amongst the wider public (no my children won't grow out of it!). Secondly, the improvement in eating out options through the accreditation scheme – the days of my children not being able to eat pizza at friends' parties has long gone! 

However, it would be remiss not to mention all the other fantastic work that the Charity does behind the scenes such as working with Government departments to ensure our voice is heard, funding research regarding all aspects of coeliac disease, speaking to CCGs regarding keeping prescriptions and ensuring the press doesn’t print ill-informed articles. I was honoured to be asked to be Vice Chair of Coeliac UK recently. I’m excited to be in this role and hope to meet many of you during my tenure.

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