Meet the team

//Meet the team
Meet the team 2018-01-04T14:23:14+00:00



Diana Blackmun

Diana is the Chief Executive Officer of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Diana began her career working for the Civil Service at The Patent Office in London. Before progressing to the General Medical Council, she worked within a team interviewing foreign doctors and processing applications to qualify for work in the UK.

Since moving out of London into the Shire Counties, Diana worked for both large and small organisations before starting work in the political office of Bedfordshire County Council working directly for the Leader of the Council and Executive Members.

Diana then progressed to Adult Social Care to work more closely with service users and the public and to pursue her degree in Social Sciences with Social Policy.

In her more recent role working for Central Bedfordshire Council, Diana led on Customer Engagement for a procurement project which won the Government Opportunities Best Customer Engagement Initiative of the Year Award in March 2012. Diana was also the recipient of the 2012 Employee of the Year Award given by the Social Care, Health & Housing Directorate of Central Bedfordshire Council in December 2012.

Diana is a keen volunteer and her work includes volunteering at a local hospice and with local youth groups. Diana is passionate about customer engagement, involving customers in the provision and delivery of health and social care; to have their say and drive up quality.


Susan George

Susan is the Insight and Research Officer for Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Susan has worked for various local authorities in her career within project support and business development. Susan assisted in developing ideas for projects to improve the services the local authority needed to deliver and managed research into promoting those services to the public.

Susan has also previously worked within the legal team for Kettering and Wellingborough Councils where she developed her numerical and analytical skills.

Susan was the main carer for her elderly parents which enabled her to develop her caring skills to ensure her parents received the best quality of care and support available, particularly since her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Susan has first-hand experience of a family member living with dementia and how it can devastate the families of those with the disease. Susan was instrumental, as a volunteer, in saving the local Day Centre from closure which her parents attended. Susan now volunteers at the care home she located for her father following the progression of his disease.

More recently, Susan developed her own therapy business where she was able to enhance her skills in marketing, data analysis, publicity, customer engagement and project management.

Susan feels that, in the current economic climate, it is a challenge for people to access the health and social care services they may need and not everyone can speak up for themselves. Susan is therefore passionate about helping people to access the services they need.


Jane Kelly

Jane is the Digital Communications Officer

Jane has ten years experience as a communications specialist in the health and wellness field.
Prior to her current role, she worked for an organisation that provided health and well being services to employees as part of a workplace benefits package.

The support provided to employees took a holistic approach to health and wellness so services included personal counselling, legal guidance, budgeting advice and information on health related topics.

Jane has witnessed how accessing these types of services can positively impact on a person’s wellbeing so is excited to bring her experience in conveying health and wellness information to Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire.

Whilst in her last post she developed a large multilingual online resource library that contained information and guidance on a wide range of health and wellness issues that was available to a global workforce of 4.5 million people.

She believes that to help push up standards, it is vital that people are encouraged to share their personal experiences, confident in the knowledge that their views will help influence change and shape future service provision.


Dee Dillistone

Dee is the Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator

Dee began her career in the care sector and has provided support to people with multiple disabilities, the elderly in their own homes as well as in residential and nursing care settings.

From delivering care she moved on to monitoring and quality within Hertfordshire County Council. Here she led on engagement with people receiving home care services ensuring their feedback informed the inspection of services on an annual programme.

In addition Dee worked with a range of stakeholders to gather feedback about other services that led to change and development of new and existing services.

More recently Dee has worked in commissioning and contract management of services in the voluntary sector and believes strongly that any service needs to hear from the people it delivers to. Dee is committed to volunteering as a member of her local Good Neighbour Scheme. Dee is new to Central Bedfordshire and looking forward to engaging with the local community


Clare McAnulty

Clare is the Digital Development Officer

Clare has worked for most media companies including BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in a technical capacity. Around 5 years ago, Clare started her own company and now provides digital services including website design and digital content including video for businesses.

Around 15 years ago, Clare’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In the years that followed, Clare’s contact with the health service increased. Like many other families, coping with the changes that followed was very difficult. In general, her mother received very good care, however there were times when the lack of understanding of her mother’s condition caused upset and worry. Having experienced first hand many of the services available, Clare is keen to help others.

Clare will be developing the digital output from Central Bedfordshire including the use of video and other media.




Following the retirement of the former Chair, Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire is currently recruiting to this position.


Dave Simpson

Dave is the Vice Chair and a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Dave was diagnosed with Oesophageal cancer in 2009 and following successful treatment is now a local champion for cancer patients and their families to ensure the patient voice is heard.

Dave previously enjoyed a varied career which included serving in the Royal Air Force as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller, landlord of a pub, an IT trainer and a Fleet and Facilities Manager.

As well as being a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, Dave is the former Chair of Bedford Cancer Action Partnership and is Deputy Chair of Flitwick Surgery Patient Partnership Group. Dave was a member of both the South East London Consumer Research Panel for Cancer at Guys Hospital and Bedford Cancer Awareness Champions. Dave is a patient representative on several groups at the East of England Strategic Clinical Network and is also a patient representative and reviewer on the National Cancer Peer Review.

More recently Dave is an independent representative on the Public Engagement Forum and West Mid Beds Patient Participation Group of the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Dave also works with Macmillan Cancer Support as a reviewer and volunteer speaker.

Linda Grant

Linda is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Linda has enjoyed a varied career in both the health care sector and the corporate sector. Previously Linda was branch secretary of the Independent Cabin Staff Union for 13 years using her negotiation skills in relation to pay and conditions of employment for the independent airlines. Linda was also Chair of the Air Safety Conference and represented cabin staff at employment tribunals.

Linda has over ten years of personal knowledge and experience of mental health service provision, particularly Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Bi-polar, having previously cared for elderly relatives and family members, navigating through specialist care services. Working within the Pharmaceutical Industry, involved in establishing Norplant in the UK, Linda organised the clinical training of GP’s, Consultants, Midwifes and Nurses for Norplant insertion. Linda was also instrumental in establishing ‘Teen Screen’ in the local community.

More recently Linda has been working as a debt advisor having trained and worked with Advice UK. Linda uses her financial knowledge to support families in financial difficulties, offering advice and information to avoid litigation. Linda also represents Lenders in court as their advocate.

Linda is also a Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire (HWCB) Volunteer and Champion. Linda has completed training to be an authorised Enter and View Representative and also represents HWCB at various stakeholder meetings and Carers Cafés. Linda uses her vast knowledge and experience to encourage people to contact HWCB with issues and concerns and to ‘tell their story’.


Catherine Davies

Catherine is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

The majority of Catherine’s working life has been for the local voluntary sector; specifically MIND BLMK, Mental Wellbeing Services and Support covering Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. Catherine is dedicated to improving and developing services to enable people with mental health to lead full and productive lives through her work with The Befrienders at MIND.

Catherine has provided training on mental health awareness and worked closely with umbrella groups for voluntary agencies such as Community Voluntary Service and the Disability Resource Centre.

Previously Catherine has worked in the Market Research Department for the Cooperative Wholesale Society in both product development and consumer research.

In her current role as a volunteer for the Coroner’s Support Service in Bedfordshire and Luton, Catherine provides emotional and practical support to anyone who has contact with the Coroner’s Court. Catherine is the Volunteer Representative for the southern regions on the Management Committee for the Coroner’s Court Support Services and Volunteer lead for the local team of volunteers.

Catherine regularly visits a local dementia care home and two nursing homes to provide social and spiritual support for residents and their families.

Wendy Toomey

Wendy is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Wendy is an experienced senior public sector manager and leader, who delivers programme and project management to service redesign across Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authority Consortia and third sector organisations, as well as private providers.

Specialising in low and medium intensity support services Wendy has a long association with the development of Integrated Community Equipment Services, both locally and nationally. Wendy is also well known across the Eastern Region, through her successful management of development programmes for the Care Services Improvement Partnership, The Eastern Development Centre and Enable East.Wendy led the delivery of the Transition Support Programme in the East supporting local areas to be ambitious for their own achievements.

Wendy’s vast experience has enabled her to have both difficult conversations at a strategic inter-agency level and also to provide very practical support to frontline staff. Historically, an active member of both the British Association of Social Workers and the National Association of Equipment Providers; Wendy is also the author and co- author of an eclectic number of professional articles and policy documents ranging from the Eastern Regional Policy Guidance for Transition: ‘Making it Happen’ to ‘No longer Deaf to their Needs’, the ground breaking work describing the difficulties experienced by hearing children of deaf parents.

Locally Wendy is an active member of Greensands Patient Participation Group and represents this surgery on the West Mid Beds Locality Patient Participation Group.


Gill Hiscox

Gill is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Gill has a wealth of experience and local knowledge about health care systems and providers. Gill has worked within the NHS in Bedfordshire for over 40 years, initially in Human Resources with the local Health Authority, and more recently as a Practice Manager in a local GP practice for over 15 years.

Gill was elected South Bedfordshire Trust Board member of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and has been a member for four years. Gill is also a local Parish Councillor in Central Bedfordshire.

Gill was responsible for setting up the first Patient Participation Group (PPG) in Bedfordshire which won a National Award for its patient involvement. As part of her current role Gill is currently involved in discussions around GP Federations and all the potential changes that will hopefully drive the NHS forward.

Gill is passionate about hearing and listening to the patient voice and recently took on the role of Chair of the West Mid Beds Locality Patient Participation Group. Gill has also found time to manage a local Girl Guide Unit for the past 30 years in her local community.

Tegan Ingram

Tegan is a Youth Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

“I volunteered for Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire because I wanted to be able to represent the voice of young people in my area about health services and concerns that the board may be able to tackle.”

“I am in Year 9 at a local school in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. I don’t know what I want to do when I’m older because there are so many opportunities out there, but I would like to do lots of volunteering in the community. Other things I enjoy are reading, writing and Swimming Training.”


Paige Taylor

Paige is a Youth Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

“I volunteered for Healthwatch because I really wanted to try and make a difference to the health services in my area. I have had lots of experiences where an appointment was delayed, or cancelled at the last minute, which is very irritating.”

“I go to school at Etonbury Academy, and I am taking Geography, Art and Design, Animal care and v.cert food. After I finish school, I would really like to go on to be a veterinary nurse as I really love animals.

My personal interests are drawing, cooking and riding my bike. I am currently doing my DofE award (Duke of Edinburgh) and I do gardening club and cheerleading.”