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.


Dee Dillistone

Dee is the Engagement and Volunteer Officer

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

Amy Eymor

Amy is the Youth Engagement and Volunteer Officer

Prior to the start of her career Amy worked as a volunteer with Young Carers and then continued her work in the care sector by working with Adults with Learning Disabilities and Challenging Behaviour. This was mainly based in a residential setting and Amy was also involved in the development of a new Day Centre.

Amy continued her career by working within the public sector for several years supporting local residents and working with vulnerable people.  Since taking a short break and focusing on her family Amy has resumed her career working with Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, using her skills and expertise to support young people and managing young Healthwatch volunteers.

Amy’s role is to engage with the local community, particularly young people, to encourage them to have a voice and to talk about their experiences of health and social care services delivered locally.

Amy is looking forward to generating many exciting new ideas and projects to engage with young people, to help improve access to, and the delivery of, services for children and young people.

Debbie Hull for web

Debbie Hull

Debbie is the Digital Communications Officer

Debbie has over 10 years’ experience in marketing and communications within the mental healthcare sector. She has a passion for creative design and was the lead designer at Partnerships in Care, an independent mental healthcare provider, for a 20 strong in-house marketing and sales team with 70+ hospitals requiring rapid turnaround of designs for both external and internal communications.

As Relationship Manager and Marketing & Communications Manager at Nouvita Healthcare, Debbie was responsible for the communication to NHS Commissioners and Case Managers to announce the opening of a new Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). This resulted in the service running at 90% occupancy within 6 weeks of opening.

Debbie’s empathy and caring nature now leads her to Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, where she wants to encourage customer engagement on health and social care provision. As a carer for her husband, who has mental and physical health needs, she is passionate about helping to influence change and improve the quality of health and social care within our community.

Alison Newnham

Alison is the Database and Office Administrator

Alison has many years’ experience being an administrator. During her varied career she has worked in banks, schools both primary and secondary, interactive games and most recently for a charity working with students and graduates, developing internal processes to ensure a smooth run office.

She has knowledge of planning and implementing large scale events which will be additionally utilised to support the team.

Alison is an active volunteer with the Good Neighbourhood Scheme run in her village, as well as a member of GirlGuiding for over 40 years.

She looks forward to promoting Healthwatch in her local area and more widely throughout Central Bedfordshire, engaging with the general public to ensure that everyone has the best access to health and social care they both need and want.



Dave Simpson

Dave is the 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.


Gill Hiscox

Gill is Vice Chair and 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.


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’.

Kevin Daly

Kevin Daly

Kevin is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Kevin has a wealth of health experience and has also been a volunteer with Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire for the past two years.

During Kevin’s career, which has spanned over four decades, he initially worked in joinery and management progressing to CAD Draughtsman.  Kevin has a keen eye for detail, enjoys engaging and communicating with people and listening to their views.

Kevin is looking forward to the challenge of being a member of the Board and helping to improve the patient experience in Central Bedfordshire.

Lynda Gazeley

Lynda is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Lynda originally trained in dance and drama, performing professionally as a dancer before moving into teaching. Following a family bereavement Lynda changed career path and went into nursing. Lynda subsequently worked for the NHS for over 20 years and gained considerable knowledge and a wealth of experience in the health sector.

Lynda is a trustee of two other charitable organisations and is fully engaged and supportive of her local community.  As a Welfare Officer for a local Youth Football Club, Lynda is instrumental in ensuring that the decision making committee affects necessary change and improvements.

As a Company Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, Lynda is looking forward to being involved in health and social care projects that make a difference and can influence service design and delivery.

Paul Downing

Paul is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Paul joins us after serving four years as a Central Bedfordshire Councillor 2015-19 where he worked on the Social Care, Health and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Joint Health Committee alongside Councillors from Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes.

Paul was part of the CBC review team that wrote a paper on Integrated Care in Central Bedfordshire in 2018. He is involved with a number of local charities as a volunteer and in 2013 retired from Policing where at his last posting he headed up the College of Policing’s Investigative Crime Training Unit. His hobbies include weeding a semi-abandoned allotment and looking for his lost golf balls!

Karen Proctor

Karen is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Karen has academic qualifications in both health related studies and management and has worked in the NHS for nearly forty years initially as a nurse and midwife delivering front line care, progressing to Board level as Director of Nursing and Chief Operating Officer.

Karen recently retired as Director of Quality from Guys & St Thomas NHS Trust which involved working with partners and patient groups.  More recently Karen has been a Vice Chair for the Quality & Audit Group at Keech Hospice for nine years and is also a Trustee for Heritage Care which looks after elderly patients with learning disabilities and mental health problems.  Karen is passionate about improving patient experience and safety and is also a specialist advisor to the CQC.

Hayley Leeson

Haylee is a Youth Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

“Hello I’m Haylee Leeson, I’m 13 years old. I am a member of Central Bedfordshire Youth Parliament.”

“I have been elected to sit on Healthwatch as a young person’s representative. I like to help people and the community young to old, I’m responsible and organised.”

Young Healthwatch volunteer

Valentina Kalanyos

Valentina is a Youth Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

“My name is Valentina, I’m one of the Youth Directors for Healthwatch Central Beds and I’m also the chair of the Central Bedfordshire Youth Parliament.”

“I absolutely love working with people and helping the community. I’m very passionate about my work with Young Healthwatch and all my social and activism work.

My goal as a Youth Director will be to collaborate with Healthwatch on an even bigger level than before and keep making as much positive change.”