Following LUPUS UK’s Annual General Meeting and Trustee Elections in May 2021, our Board of Trustees decided it would be helpful to appoint some additional Trustees to the Board, bringing it back to eleven members, whilst welcoming additional experience, skills and points of view.
We are very pleased to announce that Jolene Cheung and James McCarthy have accepted invitations to join the LUPUS UK Board as Appointed Trustees until the 2024 LUPUS UK AGM. Joelene and James have kindly written their introductions for us.
When I was diagnosed with lupus, I remember the whole experience being challenging, the emotional toll of grieving for the loss of my health, who I might have been and scared of what might be to come. But one of the things that helped me with coming to terms with this life-changing event, was LUPUS UK. From the leaflet that I was handed on the day of my diagnosis by a Specialist Lupus Nurse to scrolling through the articles on the LUPUS UK website to reading through the chats in the forum discussions, before finally (but also nervously) deciding to reach out and attend the Young People’s Lupus Support Group, it all helped me rationalise and understand.
As such, I am very happy and excited to be joining the Board of such an amazing charity as one of the newest Trustee members. I would like to thank everyone for their support and faith in me, I will do my best to contribute to the good work that LUPUS UK does today.
Besides being a fellow lupus patient diagnosed in my early 20s, I am a second-generation British born Chinese. I graduated from Warwick university reading Economics (albeit a year later due to the year I had to take out as a result of my diagnosis) and started working in the finance industry where I currently work for a trade finance fintech. Outside of work I enjoy doing dance and yoga classes (when the body allows), crafts and I love dogs. I look forward to adding being a LUPUS UK trustee to that list.
With my background, I would like to bring a fresh perspective to the board in assisting with the delivery of its strategy. I would also like to help the charity grow its brand and expand its reach as I realised in trying to explain lupus and its effect on me to friends, family and employers, that more awareness is needed amongst the general public as well as within the professional health industry.
I have over 35 years’ experience in leadership positions in mainly service businesses. I am a qualified accountant (FCCA) and marketing professional (FCIM) and have an MBA from Warwick University. I have particular skills in finance, managing change, project management and strategy. I live in North Essex with my wife Joan (known as Pooh Bear on the HealthUnlocked community), my son and my two dogs.
About twelve years ago my wife started to feel unwell with fatigue and flu-like symptoms that would not relent. No one seemed to be able to identify what it was and she was getting worse. In 2015 and 2016 she was admitted for prolonged hospital stays with breathing problems but the underlying cause was not identified.
Subsequent to her hospital stay, a consultant tried to identify the problem and then ran a load of blood tests that were all normal and suggested my wife should be put on anti-depressants. At this stage, I got heavily involved in researching the probable cause of Joan’s condition.
The major thing I noticed was that when Joan was on steroids she improved and off them she deteriorated. Having ruled a number of endocrine issues out, this looked increasingly like autoimmune. Our GP referred us to Guy’s Hospital and the excellent Professor Vyse diagnosed lupus (SLE).
Subsequent to the diagnosis it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster but Joan’s quality of life has improved. The support, information and comradeship of LUPUS UK has been a very positive force in getting us through.
LUPUS UK is an outstanding organisation – I think of it as more of a family and this is a strength that must be preserved. There is so much more to do; There is so little we know about lupus and how to treat it. There are so many people struggling to get a diagnosis. There are so many people who are without treatment or who remain poorly treated. There is so little awareness of lupus in the general public and so little understanding of lupus in health professionals.
I can bring a good understanding of the challenges of diagnosis and living with lupus with my support for my wife. I am also a professional Manager with extensive business experience in finance, governance, managing change, project management and strategy. These skills will assist the executive team in developing the organisation. Personally, I am a team player with a highly analytical, questioning and constructively challenging approach.
I want to make a positive difference to all those who have lupus and believe this role will allow me to contribute to LUPUS UK.
We hope that you will give them a warm welcome and wish them all the best in their new roles.