Our Trustees and Directors


Our Executive Directors

Toby Porter – CEO

Toby Porter is the Chief Executive of Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust. Since joining Acorns, Toby has become a Trustee of Together for Short Lives and represents the children’s hospice sector on the Hospice UK Advisory Council. Toby joined Acorns in September 2016, following three years as CEO at HelpAge International. Toby has dedicated his entire career to humanitarian aid, working for 10 years with Save the Children, and five years before that with Oxfam. As Global Emergencies Director, he led Save the Children’s response to the Asian Tsunami in 2004 and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, before moving to New Delhi as Director of Programmes for Save the Children India from 2008 to 2011. Earlier in his career, Toby worked in the Rwanda refugee camps in 1994 and 1995 and led Oxfam’s response to the Kosovo crisis in 1999.

Toby was a global civil society representative at the Annual Meeting in Davos of the World Economic Forum in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Toby has an undergraduate and post graduate degree from Oxford University. He is married, with two daughters and a son.

Emma Aspinall – Director of Care

Emma joined Acorns in 2003. Emma is registered with Social Work England and has over 30 years’ experience working in health and social care. Having started her career in the public sector, she has been working in charity sector with Barnardo’s and latterly Acorns for more than 20 years.  Emma has been managing teams for over 25 years and has been an Executive Director since 2008.

Throughout Emma’s career she has striven to ensure safe and quality services have been accessible for all those requiring care and support. Underpinning her work is the focus to develop partnerships and links with external organisations ensuring Acorns is integral in the agreed services offered to children and young people who meet its criteria and support the access of funding for the services as appropriate.

“Whilst working at Acorns I have valued working with such dedicated and skilled colleagues and found it a privilege to have met so many wonderful children and families.”

Noel Cramer – Director of Supporter Engagement

Noel joined Acorns in 2018 and is responsible for Acorns fundraising, marketing, communications and supporter services. Following a commercial career in the travel industry, Noel has over 20 years’ experience working with national and local charities, including Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK.

“I have admired the work of Acorns for many years so it is a real privilege to lead a talented supporter engagement team that is focused on our supporters and bringing them in to the Acorns family in the way they choose to be involved. Together we can have a major impact on the lives of local families.”

Matt Bullock – Director of People & Culture

Matt joined Acorns in August 2020. He is an experienced HR Director, with a background of leading and managing in complex UK and international businesses. 

He has worked across a diverse range of sectors including health and social care, education, welfare to work and local authority as well as the private sector. He has a particular passion for creating effective organisational cultures that allow people to develop to reach their potential and creating the people strategy to align to organisational goals.

Matt is married and lives in the West Midlands.

Our Trustees

We are governed by a Board of Trustees with a diverse range of skills, experience and knowledge to help the charity run effectively.

Mark Hopton – Chairman

Elected as Chairman of Trustees in 2017, having been on the Board since 2012. Mark is also Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governors at Birmingham City University and formerly Chairman of Governors at Solihull School from 2011 until his retirement in 2021. Mark has enjoyed a diverse and rewarding career with the global business advisory firm KPMG.

“It is no coincidence that each of my current responsibilities reflects a long held personal interest in the development, motivation and care for children and young people, where I believe there is the greatest potential to help make a real difference.”

Mark Hopton, Acorns Chairman

Jim McCarthy – Vice Chairman

Elected to the Board of Trustees in 2011. Jim Qualified as a Chartered Accountant and held a number of board level positions within leading manufacturers.

“I am motivated to be a trustee through a desire to be able to be of some service to an organisation that is providing wonderful care in our community”.

Jim McCarthy, Acorns Vice Chairman

Alastair David

Elected to the Board of Trustees in 2017. Alastair is a Qualified Chartered Accountant having worked as a Finance Director in the manufacturing sector.

“When I retired in 2016 I wanted to use my skills to help others less fortunate than myself. I was therefore pleased to be invited to become a Trustee of Acorns, an organisation which improves the lives of so many families in our community.”

Alastair David, Acorns Treasurer

Ghzala Ahmed

Elected as a Trustee in 2018, Ghzala is a registered general nurse with over 27 years of experience in Canada, USA and the UK. She is now training care staff and nurses in nursing care. She has been involved on many boards for different organisations, focusing on empowering and supporting carers, people with learning disabilities and mental health.

“As a parent of a child who used the services of Acorns, I know and trust the exemplary care that is provided. In honour of my daughter, Aisha, I am thrilled to be a part of such a life affirming organisation. I bring a holistic understanding and wish to promote Acorns as a beacon of hope, giving children the best quality of life possible.”

Ghzala Ahmed, Acorns Trustee

Tim Barrett

Tim is a professor of paediatrics with University of Birmingham and an honorary consultant in paediatric endocrinology and diabetes. He looks after children with growth and puberty problems, and with diabetes. Tim also leads a lab trying to find new treatments for children with rare types of diabetes.

“I was asked to be the University of Birmingham representative Trustee; I was really glad to do this as many of the children I have looked after have benefited from Acorns support; and I want to give something back to Acorns for the wonderful work they do for the children I look after.”

Tim Barrett, Acorns Trustee

Dr Penny Dison

Elected to the Board of Trustees in February 2016, Penny worked as a Consultant general paediatrician in Wolverhampton for 22 years with a special interest in epilepsy, neurodevelopment and palliative care. Penny retired in 2015 and undertakes some work for the Care Quality Commission.

“Through my work I have seen the invaluable support provided by Acorns for children and their families. The Hospice at Home service is one of many fantastic developments and I am proud and excited to have been invited to work, as a Trustee, with such a forward thinking team.”

Dr Penny Dison, Acorns Trustee

Bethan Jones

Elected as a Trustee in 2018, Bethan has worked for a Member of Parliament both in the constituency and in Parliament for several years. Bethan has experience of working in policy as well as in community campaigns and communications, advocacy and event management.

“It is such a privilege to join Acorns as a Trustee and to have the opportunity to support a charity that does so much to change the lives of children and families in my community and across the West Midlands.”

Bethan Jones, Acorns Trustee

Bob Leonhardt

Elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015. Bob has over 30 years’ experience in the IT industry the last 17 of which were with KPMG advising clients on strategy. On completion of Acorns IT Strategy in 2014, Bob was invited to become a Trustee and asked to assist with the planned technical changes outlined in that strategy.

Bob Leonhardt, Acorns Trustee

Katrina McNamara

Elected as a Trustee in 2018, Katrina McNamara is a nurse who has worked in a range of health and civil service settings, including children’s palliative care. She has an interest in promoting an awareness and understanding of children’s palliative care and in ensuring children and families have access to high quality care when they need it.

“I was honoured and delighted to become a Trustee of Acorns, an organisation I have known and respected for a long time. I look forward to supporting the work of Acorns as it moves into its fourth decade of caring for children and families.”

Katrina McNamara, Acorns Trustee

Graham Muth

Elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015. Graham is an experienced Corporate Finance professional acting for clients engaged in public and private equity markets, with significant experience acting for professional services businesses.

“Acorns has been ‘dear to my heart’ for a number of years having been involved in the past in organising a number of Acorns Balls. I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to make more of a contribution.”

Graham Muth, Acorns Trustee

Phil Riley

Phil has enjoyed an esteemed career in local media initially at BRMB, then Heart FM and subsequently with Orion Media, where he was CEO and then Chairman until 2016. He is currently chairman of Birmingham TV commercial production company Koala TV.

“I’ve helped raise money for Acorns for 25 years at both BRMB and latterly Free Radio, and to be asked to help support Acorns directly by becoming a trustee was a request I simply couldn’t turn down. I only hope whatever business experience I can bring to the table helps Acorns grow and achieve more of their mission”.

Phil Riley, Acorns Trustee

Chris Sallnow

Elected to the Board of Trustees in May 2013. A corporate banker for 46 years, Chris spent the majority of his career with Barclays Bank and Cooperative Bank.

“Having retired I want to use my knowledge and experiences and ‘give something back’. I am extremely fortunate to have three healthy grown up children and two healthy young grandchildren. No better reason to want to help a charity that assists those who have not been so blessed”.

Chris Sallnow, Acorns Trustee

Amrick Singh Ubhi

Elected as a Trustee in 2018, Amrick Singh is currently Centre Director of the Nishkam Centre – a faith inspired third sector civic organisation that merges spirituality and secularity, creating a seamless fusion of values, ethics and justice for the common good of all humanity. The Nishkam Centre is the civic arm of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK). His professional background is diverse and varied. He is an innovative, forward-thinking Organisational Development Consultant and Change Manager, with experience of working in private, public and the third sectors.

As a Sikh, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Leadership Management, Amrick is passionate about growing and developing the capacity of those around him to excel and together make a positive impact. Amrick made the decision to join Acorns to support the ‘great work that is undertaken to help young people’.

“I am passionate about trying to create the best support environment for the children and their families with fellow Trustees.”

Amrick Singh Ubhi, Acorns Trustee

Jenny Ladbrooke

With a career as a Group HR Director in a FTSE 250 company covering all areas such as senior remuneration and talent development, Jenny was elected a trustee of Acorns in May 2020. With significant experience as a board member in a number of settings, Jenny is delighted to take on this role working with the excellent team at Acorns to help towards its further care and commitment to children and families in the region. 

Jenny said: “I’ve been aware of Acorns for many years. How could I not be with a Villa supporter at home! Having heard so many moving testimonies of families for whom Acorns have been there at the most difficult and distressing times, it’s a privilege to join the board of trustees and contribute to this amazing organisation.”

Lynda Bull

Lynda joined the board in May 2021. She has over 34 years experience of working in the children and adults local authority  social care sector; from social  worker to statutory director. Since ceasing working full time she has worked as an associate consultant with the  Institute of Public Care (Oxford Brookes University) and continued to support local authorities, health and community organisations to develop and improve care and support services.

“Throughout my career I have aimed to support and encourage children, young people,  and adults to live fulfilling lives in the way that they want. I am delighted to be able to bring my experience and passion to the staff, families and supporters of Acorns and ensure that those who need our services are supported in the way that feels right for them”.