Our Trustees

Peter Davis (Chair)

Peter is Chair of Carers FIRST Board and joined at the start of 2015.  

He has had a long career in financial services having worked in Building Societies, in branch and regional management and management consultancy. He went on become an executive director for Fidelity Investments, where his roles included running their global product development team, large programme management including purchase/integration of a German bank and investment operations. He has lived in Tonbridge for 25 years, has two sons both now working, and his wife Carolyn has been a volunteer at Carers FIRST for over 5 years. He has been a charity trustee since 1997 as vice chair of a school in Tonbridge, chairing their Marketing and Development and IT committees. 

Amongst a wide range of interests, he enjoys photography and attempting to play golf.

John Purdie

John has been a Trustee since 2006 and was Chair for 9 years until 2020. He has had a long career in finance and development in manufacturing companies, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has a Social Science Masters Degree in Economics from Dundee University. More recently he worked in the social care sector which provided practical insight into the issues and operations of delivering care in the community and to people with learning disability.

John strongly believes in the role that the third sector can play to serve our communities but that it is a big challenge requiring focus on the service and outcomes for those we support while reaching as many people as possible through best use of resources. Until 2015 he was also a trustee of Sevenoaks & Swanley Citizens Advice Bureau. John and his family have lived in Sevenoaks for over 30 years. His interests include playing golf badly, DIY and gardening. He took up running in the last few years which has included raising money for Carers FIRST in a half marathon.


William Daniels

William is the treasurer and is a Chartered Accountant in practice in the Medway Towns.  He is also a member of the Institute of Taxation.  He has in depth experience of charities as a trustee, accountant and auditor.  

He was educated at King’s School Rochester, graduated from University College London and qualified in the City of London, where he worked for many years.

He was previously involved with the Medway Carers Centre for over ten years before it merged with Carers FIRST and was appointed a trustee on 20 October 2011.


Bill Swan

Bill was Insurance Manager for Kent County Council before taking early retirement.

Bill Swan joined the Board of Rochester Crossroads in 1994 which later merged with Gillingham to become Medway Crossroads as he wanted to help in the caring sector and was the last Chair of Crossroads Care Medway before the merger with Carers FIRST.

He and his family live in Gillingham and his interests are walking, birdwatching and Arsenal FC.


Ruth Rankine

Ruth Rankine is Deputy Chief Inspector at the Care Quality Commission. She has responsibility for the regulation of GPs, online services and military health. She has a held executive board and senior management positions in both the NHS and Department of Health. 

Ruth lives in Tudeley outside Tonbridge with her husband Andrew and has no children. Her hobbies include keeping fit and going on holiday as well as gardening.

Shirley Briggs

Shirley Briggs has a secondary school teaching background, specialising in languages. She has also taught English as a Foreign Language both abroad and in London. Since 1995 she has run antenatal courses for the National Childbirth Trust. Shirley had personal experience of being a carer, including being a Young Carer when a teenager. Shirley has been a Trustee with Carers FIRST for many years and enjoys working with the others trustees and the senior management team.

Shirley lives with her family in West Malling. Among other interests Shirley enjoys dinghy sailing, sings in a community choir, and is a keen gardener, taking part in the annual West Malling Open Gardens for the National Garden Scheme.


Ronald Martin

Although he has lived in Southfleet since 1993, Ronald is a native of Rochester and spends a considerable amount of his leisure time there.

He is a chartered civil engineer and a chartered environmentalist.  Before retiring in 2005, Ronald was an Associate Director of Faber Maunsell Ltd, a firm of international consulting civil engineers. In that role he designed and supervised many major multi-million pound construction projects.

Ronald was persuaded to become a Trustee of Gillingham and Chatham Crossroads in 2000 by its then accountant. Subsequently he was involved with the arrangements for the merging with the Rochester Scheme to become Medway Crossroads Care.  Ronald helped with the preparation of the tender bid for Medway  Council’s care service and very pleased when they were awarded the contract.  Ronald was appointed  Chairman in 2009 and resigned four years later.

In order to take on the chairmanship of Medway Crossroads Care, Ronald resigned as a Trustee of Cherished  Memories, a small Trust based in Dartford providing memorable experiences for very sick children.

Having a keen interest in education Ronald became a governor of his old school, Sir Joseph Williamson’s  Mathematical School eventually becoming its Chairman which post he held for about 20 years.  During the same period Ronald was also Chairman of the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School Charitable Trust (Registered No. 296368).

Susan Ilott

Susan and her family moved from London to Kent in 1978 to purchase a smallholding where they could combine work with caring for parents until their death in 2010.

Susan has been actively engaged with Crossroads since the mid 1980’s and attended the inaugural meeting of Gillingham and Rainham. Susan became Chair in 1993 and Responsible Person until it merged with Rochester to become Medway Crossroads in 2006.

Susan has worked in social care since 1985;  Social Services in various parts of Kent and Bromley, delivering home care, developing a meals service and intensive care support scheme, headed Care Management teams and latterly the London Borough of Bromley’s Home Care service until 1998.

After a short break Susan became a Residential Care Home Manager at three different homes in Kent and South East London and since 2012 has been involved in supporting activities and training in a group of care homes.     

Dr Marie Wheatley

Joined as a Trustee in October 2019.

She trained as a nurse in Leicester, then a District Nurse and then later moved into a range of Senior Management roles in the NHS. Her last post was Assistant Director of Education and Organisational Development. Retiring in 2009, she then worked for nine years as an Academic for the Open University. In most of her working life she has had the privilege of working with and alongside carers. She has also experienced the challenges of being a carer herself.

She studied for a BSc with the Open University, an MBA at Henley, an MSc in Continuing Professional Development at Greenwich and Doctorate in Education at Lincoln University.

Marie lives in Lincolnshire with her husband, she has two adult children and her hobbies are floristry, reading and cooking and very reluctantly working out at the gym

Paul Fennell

Paul is originally from the East Midlands and spent most of his early life in Germany and the Middle East as his father was in the Royal Air Force. Paul first started his professional life working for the Metropolitan Police before having a long career in financial services having worked in Banking, Insurance, Investment Management as well as in both the Public and Third Sector before moving into management consultancy. For many years Paul was a school governor of a local Kent primary school where he chaired various committees. Paul lives with wife in West Malling, has two grown children and two grandchildren plus a Dalmatian, all of whom keep him busy. Paul is a keen follower of most sports, especially football with Tottenham Hotspur, and is now attempting to play bowls at a reasonable standard.

Sukwinder Bassi

Sukwinder is passionate about people development, making a difference to communities and being a carer for his mother are the reasons he joined Carers FIRST.

He is an expert in transforming organisations to realise profitable revenue growth, operational efficiencies and increasing business value. He has a proven track record of doing this through developing high performing teams capable of excelling in complex, cross-functional environments where collaboration is critical to success. 

A natural leader and people-person, he has a servant-leadership approach to build trust, motivate and empower people in retail, the education sector or as a volunteer for charities.

As former Chief Executive Officer at GEMS and current Managing Director at BEL Group, he combines his passion for people with experience in business. In so doing, he has raised educational standards for international and national students across multiple countries, UK, Middle-East, Africa and India. The innovations he has introduced have improved educational outcomes, community connections and increased profitability through creating multi-national high performing teams.

Before GEMS, he held senior management positions in the international retail sector. As a Senior Director, Vice President, at Adidas, he exceeded profitability targets across 31 countries via 2,000 stores. As Stores Director in London for Tesco, he invested his efforts in developing a talented group of managers and doubling the size of Tesco London in a 4-year period. 

Over the years he has turned around many failing businesses, grown companies from start-ups, made more profitable established companies, built trust and created positive environments where people are happy to give their best.

Peter Jenkins

Peter has over 20 years’ experience of successfully building and leading communications and public affairs functions both large and small with improvements in reputation and trust for organisations working within highly regulated sectors - energy, financial services and social care. For almost five years he was a Board Trustee and then Vice-Chair at Cambridge House, a settlement charity based in Southwark. 

He is a former Director of Corporate Affairs at the leading disability charity, Leonard Cheshire, where he was responsible for communications, marketing, campaigns and policy. Prior to this, he worked within the energy sector and within government communications. He started his career at the BBC and at the House of Commons Library. He currently works as a communications and public affairs consultant for the UK water industry as he leads their response on COVID-19.