FORCE trustee Dr Jenny Forrest is all set to…
The strength of FORCE is in the fantastic team of people who make our charity the unique and cherished local organisation that it is today. We have a committed Board of Trustees overseeing all of our work and offering strategic guidance as we grow and move forward. New trustees are selected on the basis of the skills they have to complement the existing board.
Our trustees delegate the day to day management and administration of the charity to Chief Executive Meriel Fishwick, supported by the Operational Management Team (OMT) that includes the Chief Finance Officer, based at our headquarters within the FORCE Support and Information Centre. The OMT meets at least six times a year.
Supporting them is a motivated and skilled group of professional staff who take care of the daily administration of our charity, support those in need of our many services and raise funds to ensure we can keep doing all the things we do.
Underpinning all of this is the work of an army of dedicated volunteers who give us their time and talents so willingly and our many, many supporters in the local community.
FORCE is an integral part of the care available to anyone affected by cancer in large parts of Devon, made possible by the passion and commitment of everyone who works or volunteers for our charity. Together we make a formidable team.
Chris cared deeply about his patients as individuals and strove to tailor their cancer treatments to meet those individual needs. After co-founding FORCE in 1987, through the charity, he implemented the HOPE (Home Oncology Programme, Exeter) ambulatory chemotherapy treatment at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, the first in the UK to pioneer such an approach. This enabled patients to receive treatment at home rather than in hospital while continuing with normal activities of daily living, giving them a greater sense of control over their own lives. . At the same time, he investigated the scientific basis for this method of treatment, conducting research into which chemotherapy drugs could be given in this way and how the body dealt with them, to establish the best treatment for that patient.
Bernard saw active service in the Malayan Emergency and also worked in the Middle East, building an international port in the Gulf of Bahrain. After winning an eight month battle with throat cancer that left him unable to speak for a time, he was so grateful for what the doctors had done for him that he wanted to give something back. As well as undertaking a fundraising campaign that brought in more than £200,000, he joined Dr Chris Rowland in founding a pioneering cancer research centre – the Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Centre Exeter or FORCE. He ran the centre, at the time one of only three in the world dedicated to improving the quality of life for cancer sufferers. Bernard combined his role as the charity’s co-ordinator and office supremo with a counselling role, drawing on his own experiences to help support patients. His philosophy was to care sometimes, relieve often, comfort always.
Currently Deputy Chief Inspector for Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission and formerly Regional Medical Director for NHS England’s South Region, Nigel spent 10 years as a Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist at the RD&E and was able to see first-hand the support provided to patients by FORCE. Nigel’s research into ovarian cancer at the University of Exeter was funded by grants from FORCE and led to the award of a PhD for a research student and the publication of three papers in scientific journals. Having seen the work of FORCE through the support provided to his patients and for research into cancer, Nigel was delighted to be able to join FORCE as a Trustee in 2014. He became Patron of FORCE in October 2019.
David Cantle was FORCE’s longest serving Trustee until his retirement in 2020, when he took on the newly-created role of Vice Patron. He became acquainted with the charity’s founders, Chris Rowland and Bernard Simons, in January 1988, just four months after they launched FORCE. David and his wife Jean became ardent supporters following their son’s death from Osteo Sarcoma in March of that year. David recalls FORCE’s first office – a shared room alongside Yarty Ward in the old hospital. Retiring from his career as a senior executive in the concrete industry enabled David to enjoy more leisure time. His interests, apart from his family, are FORCE, travel, photography, family history and regular gym workouts.
Mervyn Hayes became a vice patron of FORCE when he retired from FORCE after 30 years with the charity. He first became involved with FORCE as a supporter in 1987. Two years later he became a trustee and in 1991, following early retirement, he relinquished his position on the board and was appointed as the charity’s administrator and treasurer. His proudest achievement is the success of our shop in Heavitree, for several years the most successful charity shop in the country. His other great legacy is the work he has done with our Friends of FORCE fundraising groups, which have raised more than £1m for the charity. Mervyn is a member of Exeter Friends of FORCE.
Chairman of Trustees
Anne was a consultant oncologist at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, the South West peninsula’s leading contributor in cancer clinical trials. She was lead clinician for oncology research – a unit that participates in a wide range of national clinical trials, expanded research programmes and some commercial studies. Anne became a FORCE trustee in 1992 and the charity’s chairman in 1997. She was born in Sheffield, one of seven children. Her grandfather came to England in the 1940s and set up a laundry business, which in turn led Anne’s parents to emigrate to join him and to help run it. Attributing much of her own success in medicine to the 11 plus examination and subsequent grammar school education, Anne describes this period of her life as ‘the beginning of hope and aspiration.’ She always knew that she wanted to be in a caring, vocational profession and medicine was her highest aspiration.
Ruth is an Exeter citizen and has lived in the city most of her life. She regards it as a great privilege and feels very humbled to be a Trustee at FORCE and be part of a wonderful team giving immense support to cancer patients and their families in a time of great need. Ruth and her late husband, Derek, are best known with a team of helpers who, for more than 30 years, have made it possible to have an annual Open House day. This has provided a large amount of money for FORCE.
Frank is a solicitor and partner in a local law firm, which has both a national and international presence. He specialises in providing legal advice to individuals, trustees and attorneys in respect of general estate planning with a particular focus on asset protection and estate administration. Over the years he has seen at first hand the support FORCE has provided to cancer patients and their families. Frank is Exeter born and bred and is married to Jo. They have three young sons. He relishes the opportunity of using his expertise to assist the charity in fulfilling its objectives in the local area.
Jenny is a consultant clinical oncologist at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital with a specialist interest in breast cancer and gynaecological cancers. She also runs clinics in Barnstaple. She sees day to day how the support provided by FORCE for oncology patients benefits our patients and so was honoured to be invited to become a trustee. In addition to the supportive role they have aided clinicians in developing the service and buying new state of the art equipment to allow them to improve the care of patients.
Sally is a GP who worked in Moretonhampstead from 2002 until 2019 and continues as a GP in both Devon and London. Through her contact with patients, she became aware of the wonderful support FORCE gives to individuals and families through their difficult journeys. She was delighted to join the Board of Trustees in 2016 and has been inspired to see, at all levels, the dedication that underpins FORCE’s work.
Louise has worked in brand management and marketing communications for more than 25 years. After obtaining a degree in German Area Studies from Portsmouth, she started her career in London, joining her first agency as account manager. She was promoted through the ranks to the position of deputy managing director, retaining specific responsibility for all senior client relationships through to board level. In 2006 she set up The Farm Marketing, based in East Devon, which provides marketing expertise to local, national and international clients. Throughout her career Louise has worked on all aspects of marketing including brand strategy, development and implementation through to the creation of integrated communications. During recent years, this has also included making recommendations on all aspects of digital marketing from website development and build through to the development and implementation of social media strategies. She was delighted to be asked to become a Trustee of FORCE and was involved with the charity even when she was London based – undertaking a sponsored pub crawl/bike ride more than 20 years ago, not on the scale of the Nello but which, coincidentally, also went past the house she now lives in. Married with two teenage sons, she enjoys nearly all sports (except football), food and drink.
A retired solicitor, Felix was a Partner with Ford Simey from 1992 having previously been a Partner with a London firm. He then headed the residential conveyancing team in the Exeter office and had a wide involvement across the firm in property matters. He dealt with a considerable amount of commercial property work and had some significant clients in the local area. He is looking forward to volunteering for FORCE and travelling now that he has more time.
Having worked for seven years as the Clinical Director of Cancer Services at the RD&E, John is currently the Clinical Lead for Peninsula Cancer Alliance and Cancer Specialist Commissioning in the South West. Both these posts involve overall planning and delivery of all forms of cancer services in this part of the country. The support given by charities to patients and staff is a vital element in the cancer treatment field and John is keen to see this recognised and encouraged. It is necessary to recognise that FORCE gives levels of support to patients and their supporters in this area, which few other parts of the country can match and which makes an enormous difference to them. John is a surgical specialist in gynaecological cancer treatment with a keen interest in research on the family history of cancers, ovarian cancer treatment and improving the uptake of cervical cancer screening to prevent cancers in the future. He works at the RD&E, based on Wynard Ward and also on joint surgical procedures with colorectal, urological, plastics and breast surgery teams at the RD&E. He also carries out clinics in North Devon District Hospital.
Jeremy is semi-retired from a career in education and spends time with grandchildren as well as working freelance in learning and training settings. Much of his adult life has been spent in East Devon. He became a trustee after experiencing FORCE from the point of view of a carer for a cancer sufferer. He enjoys travel and cultural activities. Semi-retirement has provided opportunities for winter sports and much more walking. Amateur music making is also high on the agenda.
Morley is a director of a number of companies with activities ranging from property, tiles, electric fires to consultancy services. Formerly the CEO of Stovax Heating Group, Morley is also the Chairman of the Stove Industry Alliance, the stove and fireplace trade association in the UK. He studied law at Exeter University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant before spending his career in industry as a Finance Director and then Managing Director. Morley also has extensive international experience of importing and exporting, having been on the board of Canadian and Swedish businesses and working with a European trade association. He became of trustee of FORCE in 2007 and remains committed to the aim of FORCE to be a local charity providing the best possible support to people affected by cancer.
Sally is a cancer nurse specialist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and currently works with patients undergoing immunotherapy treatments. She is excited to be part of the team delivering services at the outreach centre at Ottery St Mary. Having worked within cancer services at Exeter for more than 15 years she is constantly aware of how the work of FORCE benefits patients and their loved ones. She was honoured to be asked to join the Board of Trustees in 2020 and hopes that her clinical experience can assist in supporting FORCE to continue their inspiring work.
Chrissie moved to the South West in 2019, having spent 10 years working as a clinical academic and oncology consultant at the Royal Free Hospital in London. It was important for her to see what holistic support is available to my patients in her new practice at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. She was blown away by the work that FORCE does and the environment that has been created for patients to use. She was delighted to be invited to become a trustee. Alongside cancer research, which Chrissie undertakes jointly with the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health, she also looks after patients with a rare type of cancer (neuroendocrine tumours) and understands the challenges that patients with rarer cancers face. She has a national and international profile in neuroendocrine tumour clinical management and research. She is thrilled to have joined such an inspiring and forward thinking team and is really looking forward to using her experience to benefit cancer patients in the South West.
Chief Executive Officer
Meriel started her working life in local newspapers and public relations. It was a chance meeting with FORCE founders Dr Chris Rowland and Bernard Simons that led to her employment with the Charity in 1990. From its early days as a research focussed Charity, FORCE has been shaped by the changing needs of people affected by cancer. Over the last two decades Meriel’s role has also evolved from PR and Fundraising Manager to Support Centre Manager and latterly Chief Executive. Meriel is passionate about the Charity and believes it is a local treasure – created and funded by local people for local people. In an increasingly global and sometimes faceless world, FORCE is reassuringly all about people and offering help and support – face to face. Beyond work Meriel is kept fully occupied by family life! She is married to Simon and they have a son, Harry, and a Labrador called Tess. Meriel loves all aspects of outdoor life especially walking on Dartmoor.
Chief Finance Officer
Julia is a chartered accountant and she joined FORCE in 2006 as the sole member of the Finance Team. In addition to her responsibility for the charity’s finances, she is the Company Secretary and is involved with the shop, governance and administration as well as taking a keen interest in the Support Centre’s garden. Julia’s role has evolved as the activities of the charity have expanded and she now heads up a team of four within the Finance Department and gained her Diploma in Charity Accounting in 2015. Outside of work Julia is kept busy with her two teenage children, various pets and her own garden!
FORCE trustee Dr Jenny Forrest is all set to…
A junior doctor from Exeter is all set for an…
A group of men from Devon will cycle from Exeter to…
HSBC’s Exeter branch will be holding an in-branch fundraising day on Thursday April 28 in aid of FORCE Cancer Charity.…
FORCE Cancer Charity’s popular Cream Teas for Cancer event is back by popular demand this summer. FORCE is once again…
FORCE Cancer Charity is delighted to announce a partnership with locally-based firm The Exeter. The new partnership will involve the…
Pedal power is at the forefront of…
FORCE Cancer Charity and City Runs are combining to offer…
We are often much better at caring for others…
World Kindness Day is celebrated around the…