DEBRAs SLT team in 2023

Chief Executive Officer

Tony Byrne

             Tony Byrne, CEO.

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, for Cumbria County Holdings Ltd and Orian Solutions Ltd, commercial companies wholly owned by Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council involved in catering and cleaning and Corserv Ltd, a diverse group of Cornwall Council-owned businesses, providing infrastructure, engineering, housing, jobs, social care, facilities management, inward investment, transport and other essential services to Cornwall and beyond.

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 Member Services

Claire Mather

            Claire Mather, Director of Member Services

Claire 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 Fundraising

Hugh Thompson

            Hugh Thompson, Director of Fundraising.

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 [email protected].


Director of Retail

Chantelle Milne

            Director of Retail, Chantelle Milne.

Chantelle 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

            Director of Research, Dr Sagair Hussain.

Sagair 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

Also carries responsibilities for IT, risk and insurance

Simon Jones

                           Director of Finance, Simon Jones.

Simon 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.


Director of Marketing & Communications

Chris Clarke

            Director of Marketing & Communications, Chris Clarke.

Chris is a fellow of the chartered institute of marketing (FCIM) with over 20 years’ experience in senior marketing and communication roles across a variety of industry sectors including consumer durables and fast-moving consumer goods, healthcare, medical devices, construction, and housing. Chris is passionate about insight-based marketing and communication and has a proven track record of devising and implementing highly targeted strategies that connect with the target audience, influence behavioural change, and drive revenue.

Chris is married and has a young daughter, he loves the countryside, any form of motorsport, and cycling the roads and trails of his beloved North Cotswolds.


Director of People

Gavin Differ

Gavin Differ, Director of People and Health and Safety          Director of People, Gavin Differ.

Gavin is an HR professional with twenty years’ experience of people leadership and senior HR roles within the retail industry. He has extensive experience of leading organisational change, facilitating positive work cultures, and is passionate about developing individuals to fulfil their potential.

Gavin and his team are committed to continually investing in the development of our colleagues and creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed and valued.

Gavin lives in the west coast of Scotland with his 12-year-old British Shorthair cat, Toby. He enjoys travelling within Europe, socialising with friends and is a keen fan of world cinema.