Board of Trustees

CLAPA’s governing body is a Board of Trustees who are all volunteers. They share ultimate responsibility for governing CLAPA and directing how the charity is managed and run. They also use their varied skills and backgrounds to advise CLAPA staff and provide overall strategic direction to the charity.

The Board is a mix of people affected by cleft lip or palate (with a cleft or parent of a child with a cleft) and health professionals involved in the care of people born with cleft lip and palate.

Individual Trustees are selected on the basis of what skills they can bring to the running of the charity. Vacancies are advertised on the website and via e-newsletters.

For more information on individual Trustees, see their personal bios.

Oliver Hopkins – Interim Chair of Trustees, Management Consultant, and adult born with a cleft
Jas Bhachu – Finance Professional and Treasurer
David Drake – Consultant Cleft and Maxillofacial Surgeon with the National Cleft Surgical Service for Scotland
Siobhan Handley – CRM specialist with 11 years of prior fundraising experience and mother of a child born with a cleft
Louise Hughes – Solicitor and mother of a child born with a cleft
Marie Pinkstone – Lead Speech and Language Therapist, North Thames Cleft Service
Jenny Williams – Retired Cleft Nurse Specialist and mother of a child born with a cleft
Mel Spencer – Communications and Marketing Director  and adult born with a cleft
Jane Kerby – Consultant Cleft Surgeon
Isabel Williams – Cleft Clinical Nurse Specialist and adult born with a cleft


Trustees keep in regular correspondence with CLAPA’s Senior Management Team (SMT). They meet regularly as a Board, as well as to take part in various sub-committees. Four formal Board Meetings are held each year to review CLAPA’s accounts and strategies, with the fourth meeting being an ‘Away Day’ where topics are discussed in more detail.

Oliver Hopkins

Interim Chair of Trustees

Oliver joined the CLAPA Board in 2017 as the Board’s Marketing and Comms Trustee. He began his professional work in the non-profit sector working for the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation before moving across to the corporate sector, where he has worked as a strategy consultant for the past seven years.

As an adult born with Cleft, Oliver was keen to join CLAPA and help give back to such a wonderful, close-to-home charity and has recently moved into the post as Interim Chair of Trustees.

Jas Bhachu


Jas is a finance professional and CLAPA’s Treasurer. He works closely with our small Finance Team to ensure best practice and good governance at all levels.

David Drake

Dave Drake is a consultant Cleft and Maxillofacial Surgeon with the National Cleft Surgical Service for Scotland at the Royal Hospital for Children and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Glasgow. He was a consultant in Morriston Hospital in Swansea for 13 years with the Welsh Cleft service. He has recently moved to Glasgow to join the Scottish Cleft Service.  He has held multiple posts in medical training both at a local and national level. His research interests include early growth changes in cleft lip and palate and speech outcomes in cleft palate patients. His  interest in surgical training led to his being the Chair of the Training Interface Group for cleft surgery in the UK. He travels to India and Nepal treating cleft patients and supports the development of local cleft surgeons and services. In his spare time Dave loves exploring on mountain bikes and motorbikes and travelling with his 3 sons.

Dave has always been a keen supporter of CLAPA both locally in South Wales and nationally and is excited about being a trustee of CLAPA and continuing to help and support the charity.

Siobhan Handley

Siobhan joined the CLAPA Board in 2021 as the Board’s Fundraising Trustee. She has worked in the non-profit sector for eleven years specialising in developing & leading teams to deliver supporter recruitment and retention strategies tailored across a range of audiences.

Her experience working in both large International fundraising organisations such as the British Red Cross and Amnesty and as well as in large and medium-sized domestic charities such as Barnardo’s and Blood Cancer UK has made her passionate about bringing the work of charities to life through storytelling and developing new and exciting products for supporters to connect with and raise income for a cause close to their hearts.

Louise Hughes

I am a solicitor with 20 years’ experience in Commercial and Intellectual Property law.  I started my legal career as a technology lawyer at Wragge & Co in Birmingham.  After 2 years, I moved in-house to the legal team at Penguin Books Ltd where I combined my love of reading and books with practising law, which was a dream combination.  I’m now Group General Counsel and a member of the leadership team at The Blair Partnership, an entertainment and literary agency, where I head up the legal and business affairs team.

I am married to Adrian and have 2 children; Lily (9) and Ben (6). Lily was born with a cleft lip and palate.  Adrian and I are hugely grateful for the support CLAPA provided to us when Lily’s cleft lip and palate was first diagnosed and all the ongoing help, information and support we’ve had since. Lily also now enjoys taking part in the various online activities for young people organised by CLAPA.  I’m excited to join the Board of CLAPA to give something back to this small but mighty charity.

In my spare time, I like to practice pilates, and run – I recently ran the London Asics 10k to raise money for CLAPA, which was a proud moment!

Photo of Marie Pinkstone

Marie Pinkstone

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist with the North Thames Cleft Service in Great Ormond Street Hospital

Jenny Williams

Jenny is a retired Lead Cleft Nurse Specialist who has worked within a number of NHS Cleft Teams. She also has an adult son who was born with a cleft.

Mel Spencer

I was told I would never talk properly as a result of being born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. But I’ve always been someone who enjoys challenging the status quo: having finished my surgeries, l trained as a classical singer and graduated with a first-class degree in music.

It’s this music education and the confidence I gained through singing that allowed me to become a successful journalist in the classical music industry before pursuing a career in marketing and audience development.

I’ve used digital content and social media to bring arts and culture to millions of people on the platforms they use the most, having worked at BBC Music Magazine, Classic FM, the Royal Opera House, and most recently as Communications and Marketing Director at the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

I am now the Director of Concert Pitch Digital, helping arts and cultural organisations better understand their digital audiences, set meaningful objectives, and create content with their brand values at its core. I’m delighted to combine my personal experience of cleft with my professional skill set to support CLAPA as a trustee.

Jane Kerby

Jane is a Plastic Surgeon who completed her surgical training in the North East of England. She was recently appointed Consultant Cleft Surgeon in the Newcastle Cleft Service.  She has a passion for providing great care to patients and families affected by cleft both in the UK and abroad. Jane has recently worked as part of a collaborative team providing cleft care in the Philippines.

Jane has always been very grateful for CLAPA’s role in supporting the cleft community in the UK and is hugely excited about the opportunity to support CLAPA in her role as a trustee.

When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her two boys.

Isabel Williams

I’m Izzy. I am a Registered Children’s Nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and I was born with a Unilateral Cleft Lip and Palate. My nursing background is primarily in Neonatal Intensive Care; however, I recently joined the Cleft Team as a Cleft Clinical Nurse Specialist. I feel extremely privileged to work as a Cleft Nurse, doing a job that I love, and I am excited to take on a new challenge as a CLAPA Trustee. CLAPA is an invaluable resource for both patients and parents who are affected by Cleft – it is now my turn to give back.

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