Meet the Directors

Each of our BDA board members has provided a biography about their careers.

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Caroline Bovey - BDA Chair

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I qualified as a Dietitian in Cardiff, Wales in 2004 and have Master’s Degree in Post Compulsory Education. I am currently a Professional Doctorate Candidate at Cardiff University. My research interests are in professional identity and professionalisation with a focus on developing individual and collective leadership for the profession. In 2016 I was awarded a BEM for Services to Equality in NHS Wales.

As an HCPC registered Dietitian, who has been practising for 15 years, my practice has moved from an acute hospital setting, to a community rehabilitation hospital and more latterly currently a Public Health role leading a Welsh Government funded programme specialising in capacity building through training Health, Social Care and Third Sector professionals and volunteers.

I was elected to the role of BDA Chair for the period 2018-2020 and then appointed following application for a second term of office. My involvement with the Association started as a trade union rep shortly after qualifying. I subsequently took on the role of chair of the Wales Employment Relations Committee, obtained a seat on the Wales Board and then progressed to chairing that Board which made me a director on the Association Council (now Board of Directors). The role of Chair of the BDA also includes chairing the BDA GET (General and Education Trust), membership of the BDA Investigatory Committee, Chairing the JNCC (Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee) and the HRC (Human Resources Committee) of the BDA. I joined the Selection Committee for its inaugural director recruitment round in 2019 and participated in Country Board chair selections in both 2019 and 2020. In addition to these formal commitments and amongst a list probably too big to add here, the role of Chair is to provide leadership to the company, the office team, and members, and to ensure that senior staff deliver the strategic aims of the Association.

Throughout the course of my career I have been a strong advocate for the benefits of Professional Association membership and I hold a firm belief that the British Dietetic Association (BDA) is stronger as a result of an increasing and widening member engagement. As a member of the Selection Committee I look forward to helping the Association build for the future.

One of the most enjoyable elements of my role as Chair is the opportunity to meet and hear from and be inspired by the members. BDA members are so passionate about our profession and that comes through clearly when I speak with them. It is an honour to be the chair at this exciting time for the profession.

Twitter: @CarolineBoveyRD

Kathryn Duff - Director

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My career path started back in 2005 with a BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition with Diploma in Industrial Studies (DIS) at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the course however this really firmed for me that my real desire was to pursue a career in Dietetics.  Then in 2011 I successfully completed the MSc/ Postgraduate Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Chester.   During this time I undertook the role as student representative on the BDA Board of Directors and gave me a real insight into the workings of our professional association. 

Completing the course in Chester I started my career with Warrington and Halton NHS Foundation Trust.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and where my career progression was really nurtured.  I had a number of roles during my time spent working in the North West, initially within a rotational Band 5 post, from here I moved into Stroke services and finally where my passion lies as a General Dietitian based within a number of GP practices.  This role really allowed me to develop an array of skills and knowledge in a vast number of clinical conditions, spanning both adults and paediatrics.  Originally from Northern Ireland I relocated back in June 2017 to undertake the role as a Prescribing Support Dietitian and it was during this time I reconnected my involvement with BDA. 

In June 2018 I undertook the role as the Northern Ireland Constituency Council Member which involved both chairing the Northern Ireland Board whilst also as Director for the Association.  I thoroughly enjoy my time in this role and it allowed me to really promote and highlight the importance of the dietetic profession to many key stakeholders.  My term of office finished in June 2020 however my desire to continue my work with the association continued and so I was successful in being appointed as the BDA Director for Northern Ireland.  I really feel that this role gives me a key opportunity to link in with other Directors from across the U.K ., strengthening the voice of the Dietetic profession in relation to key messages of influence across the political arena.

In terms of who inspires me, that would have to be my manager while I worked in England, Dr Diane Whitfield.  No task was too much, no question to ‘silly’ to ask, open to new ideas and forward thinking, a real advocate for embracing change in the way services are delivered to enhance patient care.  I hope in some small way I aspire to be able to deliver a little of what she has achieved!

Twitter: @KathrynDuff2206

Lucy Diamond - Director

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I’m Lucy Diamond, a Diabetes Specialist Dietitian and the Head of Clinical at Oviva, a digital dietetics provider for the NHS. After ‘testing out’ a variety of career pathways, including stockbroking, events organising and teaching dance, I embarked on my dietetics degree. I spent a decade in the NHS, mainly at King’s College Hospital London, working my way through band 5, 6 and 7 roles, with the opportunity to specialise in Diabetes, and work as a DSD (Diabetes Specialist Dietitian) covering both paediatrics and adults. 

I then went on to work at Oviva, in 2017, and developed their first remote and digitally enabled Diabetes Education Programme, which has now had over 15000 attendees, and I have recently being appointed as UK Head of Clinical there. In the past four years I have also juggled two maternity leaves, and freelance work, both clinical and media.

I applied to be a Director on the Board for the BDA as I have a passion for ensuring that dietitians as a trade are at the forefront of the evolving digitisation of services both in and outside of the NHS. I believe as dietitians we should celebrate our worth and show, through evidence-based practice, that our skills are superior in providing patient care. I hope that in this role, focusing on Practice and Education, I am able to be a voice for dietitians in the area of digital dietetics, and ensure that as healthcare professionals we are not left behind.  

It is an honour to sit on the board, and be part of a team that truly put members at the forefront of all discussions and decisions.

Twitter: @diamondietitian

Emily Walters - Director

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As a non-executive Director, it is a privileged opportunity to be able to contribute to the BDA’s success and its evolution to meet the future needs of its members. My remit for higher education and research reflects both my experience and interests.

I have been a member of the BDA since qualifying as a Dietitian in 1993 and have had voluntary roles within a specialist group, at branch level and as a Trade Union Representative. Being appointed as a non-executive Director provides further opportunity to contribute to the Association. I particularly enjoy meeting colleagues, learning from and listening to their aspirations, achievements and challenges. This provides valuable insight enabling me to more effectively contribute to Board discussions and my work with the BDA. 

I currently have a portfolio career reflecting my clinical and research interests and continue to contribute to the education and development of pre and post registration dietitians. I also enjoy voluntary roles as a member of the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substance (ACBS) and the Executive Committee for BAPEN and Co-Chair the British Artificial Nutrition Survey. I previously worked in several NHS Trusts in various clinical, research and leadership roles and have successfully completed an MSc in Leadership and Management. My interest in clinical research led to my being awarded an NIHR Clinical Academic Doctoral Fellowship exploring family carer experiences of eating and appetite in dementia. 

Alongside the legal and corporate responsibilities of a non-executive Director I seek to support the BDA to be a successful organisation meeting the needs of a diverse and developing membership and profession.

Twitter: @EmilyWaltersRD

Vicki Bennett - Director

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I grew up in Yorkshire but haven’t lived there since I left home to attend University in Aberdeen, Scotland, 26 years ago! I undertook a BSc Health Sciences degree with Honours in Nutrition which led to me moving to The Robert Gordon’s University, Aberdeen to complete another undergraduate degree in Dietetics. I was able to join in the third year as the 31 week placement still existed, qualifying as a Dietitian in 2001. Over the past 20 years I have held a variety of dietetic posts ranging from nutritional support to older people's services and to my current post within the food and health team in health promotion.

I have been a BDA Trade Union representative for nine years as I was looking for a bit of a challenge and variety during my career journey. I was elected as the Scottish rep to sit on the newly formed BDA Trade Union National Executive Committee (TUNEC), where I was duly elected to the position of Chairperson. This is an exciting time for TU activities within the BDA and I am looking forward to leading the BDA as a union. As part of my role, I became a Director on the Board of Directors. I also have a seat on the Scottish Board in a TU capacity.

Along with my fellow directors I want to ensure that the BDA continues to be successful as an organisation but that it also evolves to meet the needs of our members, so that our profession can flourish in this complex world. I especially want to champion our membership in Scotland and ensure the BDA has a four nation approach to membership.

Penny Venables - Director

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I am currently the joint Chief Executive of Birmingham Saint Mary’s Hospice and John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham and have worked in the charity sector for the last four years. My role involves close working with the NHS and I am part of some of the main forums within the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership across Birmingham and Solihull leading on End of Life Care. Prior to joining the charity sector, I spent 33 years in the NHS with the last 15 years of my career as a board director. I came to Birmingham in 1979 and studied an undergraduate degree in Medieval English and History at Birmingham Univeristy, joining the NHS in a senior administrative role on graduating in 1983. I have since obtained a Diploma in Health Services Management and an MSc in Public Sector Management in 1992 from Aston University.

During my career in the NHS I have worked mainly in the Acute Hospital Sector including on the Liver Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and in theatres, Anaesthetics and ITU at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals. I have served as a Director of Operations on the Board of Birmingham Women’s Hospital and as Chief Operating Officer at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals. My last two roles in the NHS were as Chief Executive at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and Chief Executive at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals, during which time I was involved in both major local service reconfiguration projects and national work programmes including sitting on the national spinal task force.

During my career I have always been passionate about clinical services and have had an interest in dietetics following close working with colleagues and also through personal family involvement with dietetic services.  I was therefore delighted to have the opportunity to join the board of the BDA which I did in June of 2020. I am a lay director of the Association but hopefully can bring my experience of board working and strategic planning and leadership within the NHS to support the board in its work. I sit on the main BDA Board of Directors and also the Finance and Audit Committee.

I am looking forward to working with dietetic colleagues across the UK as part of my role on the board, learning more about the profession and supporting the valuable work that is done and the changes we will need to face as we move into the future.

Gillian Farren - Director

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I qualified in 1998 as a Dietitian in Dublin, Ireland, and I have a Master’s Degree in Health Promotion. I have also completed further postgraduate studies in paediatrics, healthcare informatics and diabetes care. Since qualifying, and over the last two decades or so, I have specialised in inborn errors of metabolism, public health nutrition, specialist weight management and most recently in the field of neurology and acquired brain injury. I am currently an independent dietitian, having set up my own company about three years ago, following a very happy career in the NHS and previously in the Irish public healthcare equivalent, now called the HSE or Health Service Executive.  

As for how I got to where I am, I can’t entirely say I had a firm plan that led me here; my move from the NHS to independent work was mostly motivated by wanting more flexibility to meet the needs and challenges of our young and growing family, and I’m pleased that I have still been able to maintain links and to work closely with many of my NHS colleagues as an independent practitioner. I’ll always be a firm fan of the NHS!

Prior to my move from Ireland to live in the U.K. in 2010, I enjoyed an active role in the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, holding officer roles on a number of special interest groups and also holding a position on the national dietetic registration application body, which reported directly to the Department of Health at that time. These roles, alongside being a regional community dietetic manager for three years prior to my move to the U.K., gave me both the skills and the confidence to seek out further leadership opportunities when I moved to the U.K. 

Applying for the role of BDA Director in 2019 felt like a natural next step that I was very much ready for.

My specific director role is to support to both the communications function and the specialist groups and branches functions of the BDA. 

I carry out my specific role by keeping close contact with key members of staff within the BDA office team, by ensuring that all issues and proposed developments brought to the Board of Directors pertaining to these functions are clearly and fairly represented and well understood by my fellow directors, and by responding to more complex issues as and when required by the BDA office team or by fellow BDA members.

My inspirations are Elsie Widdowson; anyone who can strive to ensure that an entire nation continue to be well-nourished at a time of great crisis such as World War II, going above and beyond in so many innovative ways to do so, deserves a lot more than a medal in my book!

My modern dietetic hero is a trickier choice… that said, my enduring respect for Dr Sharon Foley, who was my very first boss in 1998 and who gifted me with my first real appreciation for just how much of a difference dietitians might be able to make beyond the hospital setting, is most definitely worth a mention. Dr Foley and her evolving philosophy on healthcare is very much a guiding force in my everyday practice, and indeed in my world view, to this day.

Outside of dietetics, I draw daily inspiration from a good friend of mine, Maria Kidney, who I was lucky enough to meet through the Irish Girl Guides some two and a half decades ago. From early on, Maria always inspired me to adopt a “can do” mentality, often in the face of the most unlikely challenges! In 2000, following a mountain climbing holiday, Maria gave up her promising career as a software engineer and business analyst to start up a charity, now called Brighter Communities Worldwide, to support the communities she encountered on that first crucial trip to Kenya – communities, and especially young women, who were in dire need of the most basic healthcare, social support and community infrastructure. Since those early days, Maria’s infectious enthusiasm and unwavering commitment have ensured that her charity work continues to grow like wildfire… there’s just no stopping her! Maria, and the changes she continues to make, is a constant reminder to me that almost anything is possible if we start small, stay focused, maintain our commitment, and never stop believing that we can make a difference.

When I first applied for the position of BDA director, I was more than a little terrified of the prospect, but also very excited!  As it turned out, I needn’t have been quite so terrified, as I received a warm welcome and plenty of training to skill me up for the task ahead, and I continue to enjoy ongoing support from the BDA office team and from my fellow directors. 

I still suffer from “imposter syndrome” on a regular basis, but I’ve learned to see this as a positive, in its place: I have come to believe that when we question our worth, as long as we take a balanced view and ensure we add up all our assets as well as our shortcomings, seek feedback from trusted colleagues and friends, and have the capacity to put a plan in place to address the balance, then it can only be a good thing. As my dear dad says to me time and again: don’t be afraid of a challenge…and never stop learning!

Twitter: @FarrenGillian

Samantha Peters Director  

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I am a management practitioner with some twenty years’ experience in the health sector, working with organisations which represent the interests of professionals, patients and the public. During this time, I have worked with academics, scientists and professionals in diverse disciplines ranging from arthritis to optics. Most recently, I was Chief Executive and Registrar of the General Optical Council, the UK’s regulator for optical professionals and businesses, from 2011 to 2017.

I have an MBA from Cass Business School, where I received a Tallow Chandlers Award for my research on the subject of blind or excessive trust and organisational failure. This investigated cases such as Harold Shipman. I am currently studying for a PhD at the University of Bath. My research considers the role that healthcare institutions play in promoting or inhibiting professionals’ kindness, compassion and altruism towards patients.

My areas of interest include health policy, professional regulation and compassionate care. I am particularly passionate about wellbeing in the workplace. This is an interest I am pursuing as a trustee of the British Safety Council, which exists to ensure that no-one is injured or made ill through their work. I currently chair its newly established Working Well Together Committee which was set up to develop a programme of support for employers who want to improve employee wellbeing.

I was appointed to the BDA Board in 2019. As a lay director, I use my experience of leading organisations and my knowledge and expertise in management to contribute to the work of the Board, support the BDA more widely and promote the profession. In 2020, I took on the role of Honorary Treasurer. In this capacity, I chair the BDA’s Finance Risk and Audit Committee, which supports the Board on financial matters.

I am inspired by a keen interest in social psychology and organisational behaviour, especially writers and thinkers who help us understand how problems arise within our institutions and societies, and what might prevent them.

What I enjoy most about working with the BDA is the opportunity to help promote a profession that makes such a valuable contribution to society, one which benefits us all.

Twitter: @SPeters1001

Elaine Buckley - Director

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My name is Elaine Buckley, I have worked in higher education for over 23 years. My last role was Director of Academic Development and Diversity, where I led a team which supported the development of inclusive academic practice across Sheffield Hallam University. I qualified as a physiotherapist in 1981 and undertook several clinical roles, before studying for an MBA and moving into management. I had a number of senior leadership roles in the NHS including non-executive directorships in both acute and primary care settings. I have also served on the Health and Care Professions Council as a member and as Chair between July 2015 - 2018. I joined the British Dietetic Association, as a non-executive Director in July 2019.

In my role as an educator and as Chair of the HCPC, I have enjoyed working with a broad range of health and social care professionals. The opportunity for non-members to join the BDA board was very attractive, as it provided an opportunity for me to bring my experience as a non-executive to an exciting and forward-looking professional association and work with a new team of people.

My role is a non-executive Director. As a member of the board my role is to provide scrutiny with respect to the governance of the organisation, but also to support executive colleagues in areas where I have skills and expertise. Along with fellow directors I will also act as an advocate for the dietetic profession and promote it when opportunities arise.

I have been fortunate to work with and for a number of inspirational colleagues over the years, each person has helped me develop a strong moral compass and sense of self-belief, which I have taken with me throughout my career. This experience has also encouraged me to support and coach other more junior colleagues, as I myself have moved into more senior roles. 

I am very much enjoying working with colleagues at the BDA, meeting dietitians and learning more about the profession.

Andrea Wilson - Director

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I originally registered as Dietitian in 1984 and worked as a paediatric and research Dietitian for 12 years in Dundee before I gained my MSc and diversified into cancer audit, clinical governance and risk management. Throughout this time I was an Honorary Teacher with Dundee University and kept my links with the Dietetic Profession through my work as Chair of the BDA Quality and Clinical Governance Committee. 

Realising that the skills I had learned as a dietitian equipped me well for leadership and management roles I moved into General Management and was appointed as a non-executive Director on the Board of our local College before I took early retirement in 2017. 

I currently work as a part-time General Manager for Waiting Times in NHS Fife.

When I moved into General Management, I let my HCPC registration lapse as I struggled with the concept of evidencing fitness to practice in these roles. However, when I was appointed to a role which included the management of Allied Health Professionals I felt the urge and indeed the need to reconnect with my clinical roots. I am forever grateful to the many colleagues and friends who guided and supported me through my return to practice journey which enabled me to re-register in 2017.

It was through this that I came back to work with the BDA again. As a member of the Scotland Board I was pleased to be able to use my knowledge and experience in policy and strategy to represent the BDA on the Allied Health Professions Federation Scotland (AHPFS) to promote the value of the dietetic workforce and influence future policy direction in Scotland. 

In early 2020 I took on the role of Chairperson of AHPFS just as we headed into the pandemic - one of the greatest and rewarding challenges I have faced in my career so far. I stepped down from the role after two very busy but fulfilling years of office in February 2022. 

Leading, inspiring and developing others to make changes and improvements is my passion and I am delighted to be joining the Board of Directors as a non-executive Director at a time when there is such significant change and opportunities for the profession.

Chris Flatt - Director

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As a non-executive Director, it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to contribute to the BDA’s future and development to meet the needs of its members. 

I graduated from the University of Surrey and went straight into clinical roles in and around London, specialising in long-term nutrition support. I was a tutor on the PENG Nutrition Support course for several years. I have worked as a Clinical Team Leader overseeing a large elderly-rehabilitation ward; managed outpatient, diagnostic and endoscopy services at a modern health centre; and then moved into a General Manager role for Outpatient services. I have a strong belief in the benefits of health promotion. I am a qualified personal trainer and have enjoyed combining dietetic skills with exercise advice to a wide range of people, whilst continuing to work in clinical dietetics. I have completed a Master's in management and in the NHS Leadership Academy Nye Bevan Executive Leadership Program. 

I have been a member of the BDA since qualifying as a Dietitian in 1995. My present role is as Chief Allied Health Professional in a large acute hospital trust in London working at an operational and strategic level supporting all AHPs. I chair our ICB AHP Council and chair the Chief AHP Shelford Group. Being appointed as a non-executive Director provides an exciting opportunity to contribute to the Association and I look forward to supporting the profession over the next three years.

Abdul Elghedafi - Director

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I was born and raised in Aberdeen where I was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and went on to read Law at the University of Aberdeen. I am a Scottish Qualified Solicitor working in the public sector specialising in a number of areas namely data protection law, freedom of information law, contract law and public sector procurement law.

I am an experienced Board member having held a number of roles at Board level. I have been a non-executive Board Member at North East Scotland College, one of Scotland’s largest Regional Colleges, for four years. I'm currently a non-executive Director on an NHS health board and a Lay Member sitting on a joint Department for Transport and DVLA Committee where I provide a lay view on driving standards and policy. I sit as independent panellist and chair of the Independent Appeals Panel for the Department for Transport adjudicating on train passenger appeals. I am also an Independent Assessor for the Department for Education where I assess appeals and complaints from customers of the Student Loans Company. 

Sarb Bajwa - Director

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I am a senior manager and leader and spent the early part of my career living and working in Southern Africa for an international aid organisation. Over the last 15 years I have been working for a number of global professional membership and learned societies in a variety of regulated sectors, including: legal services; financial services, the engineering industry and health and social care. I am used to working in a changing national and international political landscape and have led these organisations through a variety of challenges. I understand the importance and value of professional bodies both for their members and the wider public good and believe that they have an invaluable role to play particularly in terms of building and sharing expertise and knowledge.

I have been responsible for strategic planning; operational delivery; change management; managing campaigns and lobbying; public policy development; events and marketing; external relations and stakeholder management; customer service; financial and budgetary management I enjoy leading and driving change, being externally focused and forward facing and I have consistently delivered growth in the organisations for which I have worked. 

I am excited and looking forward to being part of the BDA family and contributing to our success.