Our Directors

Meet our Chief Executive, Simon Gillespie, and the rest of our Executive Group members.

Simon Gillespie

Chief Executive

Simon GillespieSimon joined the British Heart Foundation in March 2013. Before joining the BHF, he was Chief Executive of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society since 2006.

Like far too many people in the UK, Simon has a personal connection with heart disease – his father died of a heart attack in 1979. As part of the BHF’s Fight for Every Heartbeat, Simon runs and walks to raise money for the BHF’s work.

He previously worked as Head of Operations at the Healthcare Commission, where he was responsible for the inspection of NHS and independent healthcare facilities in England. From 2000 to 2004, he was Director of Operations at the Charity Commission, modernising the regulation and support of the 180,000 registered charities across England and Wales.

His earlier career was with the Royal Navy, including time as Commanding Officer of HMS Sheffield and as an advisor to government ministers.

Simon has extensive experience of charity and non-profit governance, and as a non-executive director/trustee. He is currently the President of the European Heart Network and a trustee of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College London.

He holds degrees in Philosophy and Political Science (MA); Business Administration (MBA); and International Relations (MPhil).

Professor Peter Weissberg

Medical Director

Professor Peter WeissbergProfessor Peter Weissberg was previously our Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Weissberg has also been an Honorary Consultant Cardiologist to Addenbrooke's Hospital since 1988 and was Director of Cardiology at Addenbrooke's Hospital for 13 years.

Born and educated in the Midlands, Professor Weissberg is married with two sons. He brings a wealth of experience and distinction in cardiovascular medicine.

Professor Weissberg underwent most of his early clinical training in and around Birmingham, before specialising in cardiology and being appointed Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine in the University of Birmingham in 1983.

Between 1985-87, Professor Weissberg was Medical Research Council Travelling Fellow at the Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia where he developed his interest in vascular smooth muscle cell biology.

On returning to the UK in 1988, Professor Weissberg began his long relationship with the BHF when he was awarded a BHF Senior Research Fellowship (Honorary Consultant Cardiologist) in the Department of Medicine in Cambridge. In 1994 he was appointed to the first BHF Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine in Cambridge.

Professor Weissberg's research focused on the cell and molecular biology of atherosclerosis – the narrowing and hardening of the arteries over time – which is the major cause of heart attacks and strokes.

In recent years his group developed new clinical imaging techniques to study the cell biology of atherosclerosis in patients with cerebrovascular disease.

Louise Parkes

Fundraising Director

Louise ParkesLouise joined the British Heart Foundation in March 2011 from Shelter, where she was the Director of Fundraising.

Louise has extensive charity fundraising experience gained over 18 years working for Help the Aged and Age UK, Cancer Research UK and the National Deaf Children's Society.

In this time, she has undertaken roles as Head of Events, Supporter Networks and Celebrities, Head of Corporate and Events, Head of Major Gifts as well as Regional Fundraising Manager and Challenge Events Manager.

She is a keen fundraiser who practices what she preaches and regularly runs and cycles for charity – including doing the London Marathon twice.

Louise is a Trustee and Chair of the Fundraising and Marketing committee for the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust.

Mike Taylor

Retail Director

Mike TaylorMike Taylor started his career in Top Shop and has nearly 30 years’ experience in retailing. For most of that time he has held Director level positions in major retailers across sectors as diverse as footwear, sportswear, food and homewares.

As Managing Director of both Budgens and Londis he was responsible for a network of over 2000 stores throughout the UK, and more recently focused on both retail and online development in speciality retailers, including several years as Managing Director of both Past Times and Whittard of Chelsea.

Prior to taking up his current role, Mike was a non-executive member of both the BHF Retail and Audit committees.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths

Director of Strategy and Planning

Dr Charmaine GriffithsDr Charmaine Griffiths joined the British Heart Foundation in 2003 and has held several positions within the charity that span disciplines from media relations and public affairs, to programme management and digital development. 

As Director of Strategy and Performance, Charmaine leads the Division responsible for development and implementation of our strategy, and of key aspects of the organisation’s management.

With over 15 years’ experience working in leading UK medical and health organisations, Charmaine began her career as a biomedical research scientist working at leading universities around the world, including University College London and the University of Melbourne. Since then she has worked as a science engagement specialist for organisations including the Wellcome Trust, whilst holding a number of pro-bono consultant and trustee positions within the third sector.

Kerry Smith MCIPD

Director of People and Organisational Development

Kerry SmithKerry joined the British Heart Foundation in October 2013 from the Royal Horticultural Society, where she headed up Human Resources for 8 years and supported transformational change across the Society. 

Kerry has over 25 years’ experience in the not for profit sector having lead HR and organisational change for staff and volunteers working for United Response, The National Trust and both the University College and Royal Free Hospitals.

As Director of People and Organisational Development, Kerry leads the Directorate responsible for all People matters for the BHF’s staff and volunteers with an ambition to deliver a World Class Organisation. The Directorate includes human resources, reward, recruitment, organisational design and cultural change, talent development, volunteering, health and safety, facilities, internal communications and employee relations. 

Kerry is no stranger to heart disease having supported her husband, 5 years ago through major heart surgery to repair the mitral valve. As a member of the CIPD, Kerry also sits on the CIPD Reward Forum representing the sector on pay related issues.

Mike Hobday

Director of Policy

Mike Hobday

Mike Hobday joined the British Heart Foundation in September 2014, and is responsible for the charity’s policy development and national influencing work in all four countries of the UK.

Mike joined the BHF from Macmillan Cancer Support where he was Director of Policy and Research, and previously worked for the League Against Cruel Sports. He has worked in public affairs for over twenty years, leading some of the most high profile and impactful campaigns of the last decade, from the League Against Cruel Sports campaign to outlaw fox hunting to Macmillan’s influencing work to secure free prescriptions for cancer patients.

Mike is a trustee of the National Council for Palliative Care and has an MA from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from the University of Hertfordshire.

He tweets for the British Heart Foundation at @MikeHobday

Catherine Kelly

Director of Prevention, Survival & Support

Catherine Kelly

Catherine joined the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in July 2010 as Head of the Healthcare Professional Programme. Her role involved leading teams delivering innovative healthcare projects, provision of information, support and guidance to improve outcomes for patients living with heart disease.

In 2011 Catherine was appointed as Programme Director to lead the five Prevention and Care workstrands which were: Heart Matters; Children and Young People; Heart Health Resources and Community Support; Healthcare and Innovation; Regional Service Development and Patient and Public Involvement.

In September 2014 Catherine was appointed as Director for Prevention, Survival and Support.

Before Joining the BHF Catherine was a manager at the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) society delivering a new approach to service development and volunteer support. This involved workforce development, extensive consultation with people affected by MS and new approaches to commissioning services across health and social care for people with MS.

In her earlier work at the British Lung Foundation (BLF), as Head of Programme Development, Catherine established the BLF Specialist Nurse Programme and developed a patient self-management tool that was adopted across the UK. In four years as Scotland Director of the Meningitis Trust, Catherine established the Trust as a leading health charity in Scotland, developing partnerships with Public Health, the NHS and the Scottish Government.

Catherine is a member of the CVD Outcomes Strategy Implementation Group, Public Heath England External Stakeholder Group and the Richmond Group. With over 20 years in the NHS and private sector, Catherine’s early career as a nurse and manager provides invaluable experience in leading major change initiatives to improve service provision, patient experience and deliver economies of scale.

Carolan Davidge

Director of Marketing and EngagementCarolan Davidge

Carolan joined the British Heart Foundation in October 2014. She leads the charity’s brand, social marketing, media and digital teams, helping to engage people in the life-saving work of the charity.

Prior to the BHF, she spent a decade as Director of Communications at Cancer Research UK where she led award-winning campaigns and helped secure significant public health measures such as smokefree workplaces.

She has also held communication roles at the Medical Research Council, Macmillan Cancer Support and Shelter. She is a Trustee at CharityComms and a member of the Science Media Centre’s Advisory Board.

She has been named the charity sector’s most influential communications professional by the PR Week Power Book and has received an Inspiring Communicator Award from CharityComms.

Passionate about health and fitness, Carolan is looking forward to participating in the charity’s fundraising bike rides.

Martin Miles

Director of Finance

Martin Miles

Martin Miles joined the British Heart Foundation in November 2014 from Waterstones, where he was the Finance Director.

As Chief Financial Officer, Martin leads both the Finance and Procurement and the Knowledge and Technology teams, with a core objective of supporting the delivery of a World Class Organisation.

Before joining Waterstones, he spent 12 years in senior finance roles at HMV Group plc prior to its sale of Waterstones in 2011. As well as extensive retail finance experience, he brings significant knowledge of corporate activity and management, having qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers and spending ten years with the firm in Southampton, Kuala Lumpur and Windsor.