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Senior staff

Senior staff

Chief Executive Officer

Tony Byrne 

Tony Byrne of DEBRA UK

Tony has held numerous senior management positions in various industries, including catering, facilities management, hotels and retail. He has also held non-executive positions in the charity, not for profit and commercial sectors many of which were involved in supporting children and young people. He has worked primarily in the UK but has worked internationally both in Europe and North America.

Tony holds Non-Executive Director positions for Brighter Futures for Children Ltd whose aim is to protect and enhance the lives of children in Reading and also for Cumbria County Holdings Ltd, Orian Solutions Ltd and Cumbria Waste Management Ltd, commercial companies wholly owned by Cumbria County Council involved in catering, cleaning and waste management.

Tony is married to Pam and they have two grown-up sons. They now share their home with Freddie, a Catalan Sheepdog. He enjoys reading, walking, golf and trying out new foods. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Certified Member of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management.

Director of Healthcare, Membership and Community Support

Claire Mather

Claire Mather, Director of Healthcare, Membership for DEBRA UKClaire brings over 20 years of experience of working both for the NHS as a qualified nurse and Ward Sister and for the third sector as Director of Nursing in a leading hospice. Following a master’s in Business Administration, she took on the role of a Director at DEBRA and is passionate about helping to make a difference, today, for people living with EB.

A significant focus of the role has been to work collaboratively with key stakeholders to provide creative solutions to the challenges faced in the delivery of best practices and to lead a number of commercial projects partnering with organisations in the private and public sector to both improve the range of goods and services on offer to those living with EB and raise income for the charity.

Director of People for DEBRA

Martha Desmond

Martha Desmond, Director of People at DEBRA UK

Martha has extensive human resources experience across a range of industries including oil and gas, manufacturing and water. She has been working in a leadership position for the past 10 years both in the UK and overseas. Martha has a proven track record in supporting organisations through change and embedding fit for purpose HR practices that create a positive working environment.

Martha is a Magistrate on the West London Bench and is active with a number of local charities including the Scouts and Marlow Rugby Club.

Martha is married and has two sons and a daughter, she is a keen sportswoman who takes part in a variety of endurance events including open water swimming, trail running and an occasional triathlon.

Director of Fundraising and Communications

Hugh Thompson

Hugh Thompson, Director of Fundraising and Communications for DEBRA UK

Hugh is a professional fundraiser with over 20 years of experience and has worked with a number of different charities. He joined DEBRA in 2017 and has overseen a steady growth in income thanks to a great team effort and the wonderful generosity of the charity’s supporters.

Focused on increasing engagement with the EB community whilst raising awareness for this terrible condition, Hugh and his team aim to develop the charity’s voluntary income stream to ensure more care and support is available to those who need it.

Hugh is married and has two teenage boys. He enjoys playing hockey and golf when he’s able to. Feel free to contact Hugh directly by email at

Director of Retail

Chantelle Milne

Chantelle Milne, Director of Retail, DEBRA UKChantelle began her involvement with charity work as a volunteer for a local Hospice while studying for an Honours Degree in Modern Languages. Since then, her career has given her a broad range of experience spanning management of retail operations, fundraising, marketing, events management, communications and governance.

She is an experienced leader and Director, and passionate about supporting the EB community and the work that DEBRA does.

As a former Director of the Charity Retail Association, she is well connected within the sector and has a particular interest in developing organisations and implementing culture change to make them more inclusive. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as horse riding, travelling and gardening.

Director of Research

Dr Sagair Hussain

Dr. Sagair Hussain, Director of Research, DEBRA UKSagair brings over 20 years of experience both as a Medical Researcher from world-leading research institutions and as Director of Research in leading dermatology charity British Association of Dermatologists, managing multi-million-pound research programmes involving academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies and NHS Trusts.

Whilst working at the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), he delivered their most successful research initiative; psoriasis patient registry (BADBIR). It is now the world’s largest psoriasis specific patient register involving approximately 20,000 patients, 10 pharmaceutical companies and 165 dermatology centres throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Through BADBIR, he raised the profile of psoriasis amongst scientists and clinical researchers. He has a PhD from University College London and a Master’s in Business Administration from Imperial College.

He lives in Carshalton with his partner, Sara and their 2 young girls. He spends the weekends being a chauffeur for the girls and, when he can, enjoys going to the gym and playing cricket.

Director of Finance

Simon Jones

DEBRA finance director Simon JonesSimon is a Fellow Chartered Accountant with more than 20 years’ finance experience. Following a period as an auditor with PwC, he has worked in leadership positions responsible for financial strategy, planning and analysis within the Public and Charity sectors.

He also has many years of experience leading IT and implementing Finance and IT transformation projects.

Simon is married with two young children. When not providing taxi services to various post-school activities he enjoys gardening, cooking and travelling.


Wendy's story

Wendy's story

“DEBRA has been brilliant helping us fund a hoist to help me turn over in bed and a washer/drier to cope with all the extra washing..." 


Make a difference

Make a difference

Please help us fund vital healthcare such as specialist EB nurses as well as research, care and life-changing support. 

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