SARAH Woolnough has been announced as Chief Executive at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, as the current Chief Executive, Kay Boycott, moves to a long-planned portfolio career.
“I feel immensely privileged to be at the helm of such a brilliant organisation dedicated to supporting the 12million people in the UK affected by lung disease in these extraordinary times. I have been avidly watching developments over the past few months and have been inspired by the passion and commitment I’ve seen from staff every day. Respiratory health is a cause really close to my heart and it’s going to be tremendously rewarding continuing our expert response to the COVID pandemic, driving seismic change around air pollution, and being at the forefront of new research, innovation and pioneering health services”.
Sarah joins from Cancer Research UK, where she was Executive Director of Policy, Information and Communications, as well as serving as a Trustee of MQ: Transforming Mental Health and the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI). She has a wealth of experience in policy, influencing, and delivering social change, including a secondment to the Department of Health to co-write the National Cancer Strategy and was recently voted the most effective charity sector communicator in the PR Week Power Book. She has built strong links with the academic community to fund high impact research throughout her career and has previously held Trustee roles at the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Bliss, the special care baby charity.
Sarah has a track record of successfully influencing government and other stakeholders and has led national campaigns to introduce standardised ‘plain packaging’ for cigarettes, a new national strategy and funding deal for radiotherapy, and for updated cancer strategies in all nations of the UK.
Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation merged at the beginning of the year to make an even bigger difference to everyone affected by lung conditions and to become a stronger, even more powerful voice for change. Responding to the pandemic, staff have provided extensive expert health advice and support responding to the huge increase in contacts to the helplines, websites and social media, taking pressure off GPs and hospitals. The charities also launched a Post-COVID online HUB, and dedicated helpline to support people after COVID-19.