Our people

Our staff

We are a dedicated and motivated team committed to achieve positive outcomes for our beneficiaries in support of our strategic objectives. In particular, working according to our core values, striving to be responsive to seafarers in need, demonstrating compassion and respect for the individual, valuing our partner organisations, seeking continuous improvement and always acting with integrity.

Sandra Welch


Sandra joined Seafarers Hospital Society in 2020 at an interesting and exciting time in its history as it moves towards its bicentenary in 2021.

Initially trained as a music teacher, Sandra later gained a Theology Degree at the University of Aberdeen, as well as gaining a master’s degree in human resource management. She brings versatility and depth of experience to Seafarers Hospital Society, having occupied a variety of senior roles, including six years at Sailors’ Society, initially as director of programme and then chief operating officer with overall responsibility for the creation and development of crew welfare and wellbeing programmes and community development projects for seafaring communities in 26 countries.

Riina Poutanen

Operations Manager

Riina joined the Seafarers Hospital Society in June 2021. She has a close association to the Maritime industry and is pleased to be working in an organisation that supports seafarers and their families in a very pragmatic way. Riina felt immediately connected to the wonderful cause.

In this role Riina will manage the operation, HR and Governance aspects of the organisation. She has a background in a Cosmetic Retail Industry with a strong experience in HR, Project Management and Operations Management on a national level; having responsibilities where she was able to incorporate her structured nature.  

Riina completed her Executive MBA in the University of Greenwich and lives walking distance from Greenwich Village, you can often find her strolling through the park to/from work.  

Caroline Randall

Grants Assessor & Archive Administrator

Caroline began her career as a history teacher and worked in schools in north London and Kent. Whilst working as a teacher, she also completed an MA in Historical Research. Caroline gave up teaching when she had her daughters and decided to care for them full time. During these years she was involved with several local oral history projects which recorded the experiences of people who had lived and worked in London during the Second World War.

Caroline returned to the workplace in 2017 when she joined the Seafarers Hospital Society as an Administration Assistant for a period of maternity cover. When that ended, she was appointed to archive the Society’s considerable store of historical documents. Most recently she has worked on an interactive timeline of the history of the Society for the website and has taken on the additional role of Grants Assessor.

Our trustees

Our trustees provide essential governance and support to the Seafarers Hospital Society. We are grateful for their voluntary work and expertise.

Find out about the general roles and responsibilities of our trustees by reading their individual bios.

Captain Kuba Szymanski, InterManager Secretary General


Captain Kuba Szymanski is the Secretary General for InterManager, the international trade association for the ship and crew management sector.

A graduate of the Maritime University of Szczecin with a Master’s Degree, he began his maritime career in 1985 as a deck officer with Dorchester Maritime Limited Isle of Man where he sailed gas/chemical/product tankers, reaching his first command as a Master in 1999.

Attaining a Certificate in Ship Superintendence  at Lloyds Academy and an MBA at the International Business School, Isle of Man and John Moores University (JMU) Liverpool, his roles ashore included Marine Superintendent, HSEQ Manager, Fleet Manager and General Manager.

He was appointed Secretary General of InterManager in January 2010, participates in many industry-wide projects particularly relating to seafarers, and is a familiar face on the international maritime lecture circuit. He also lectures on ship management at the International Business School, Isle of Man.

In 2011 Kuba joined the TK Foundation, which supports non-profit maritime and youth programs, and he currently chairs its HR and Renumeration Committee.

In July 2018 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Solent Southampton University in recognition of his contribution to the maritime industry.

In April 2022 Capt Szymanski took up the additional role of Chair of the Board of the 200-year-old Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS), the UK’s oldest maritime charity. SHS provides a range of health and welfare services to UK-based seafarers and their dependants.

In his leisure time, Kuba is a keen yachtsman and races sails his Beneteau First 40.7 competitively around Europe, mostly double or single handed.

Sandy Nairne CBE FSA

Deputy Chair

Sandy Nairne has been a trustee of the Seafarers Hospital Society for many years and is currently Deputy Chair. The Nairne family has been involved with the Seafarers Hospital Society for six generations and has played an integral role in its development. For 200 years, since Vice-Admiral Young was voted on to the Society’s very first Committee of Management in 1821, a member of every succeeding generation has continued the family connection serving in many capacities including Chair.

Sandy was Director of the National Portrait Gallery until 2015, and before this worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Arts Council. He was one of two deputy directors at the Tate, where he worked with Nicholas Serota on the early stages of creating Tate Modern and the Centenary Development at Tate Britain. He was also responsible for overseeing Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and the development of Tate’s digital and wider engagement work.  

Sandy has written extensively and his publications include State of the Art (1987); Thinking About Exhibitions (1996); Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners (2011); 21st Century Portraits (2013); and The Coincidence of Novembers (ed) (2020).

He is currently Chair of the Fabric Advisory Committee at St Paul’s Cathedral and the Maggie’s Art Group for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres. He is also a trustee of the Courtauld Collection and the National Trust, and is a member of the Bank of England’s Banknote Character Advisory Committee.

Sandy was appointed CBE, and elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, in 2011.

Mark Carden

Mark Carden is the Assistant National Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). He is a dedicated and committed trade unionist who works with skill and determination to ensure fair pay and conditions for RMT members. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic he has worked tirelessly to secure the safety of all transport workers.

Long before it became a matter of public concern, Mark was keenly interested in the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers. He was heavily involved with the creation of the current Mental Health Awareness course for seafarers and continues to work to raise awareness of mental health issues in the maritime sector.  

Mark has been a trustee of the Seafarers Hospital Society for many years. He also sits on the boards of a number of other maritime charities and is dedicated to helping those within the maritime and seafaring communities.

Dr Tim Carter

Tim Carter has had a career specialising in the prevention of occupational health risks. He has worked both in industry and in government. For 15 years he was the senior doctor in the Health and Safety Executive.

More recently he has advised on transport safety, especially the health of seafarers. In the UK, he was medical adviser to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

He also worked internationally, as a special adviser to United Nation agencies and as a professor at the Norwegian Centre for Maritime and Diving Medicine.

Rupert Chichester

Rupert Chichester has been a solicitor for many years and is a partner in a London law firm. He specialises in civil litigation and dispute resolution work.

He has long standing connections to South East London and Greenwich, where the Seafarers Hospital Society is based, and is a trustee both of the Society and a charity in Eltham which runs alms houses for the elderly.  He has also been a director of Greenwich Citizens Advice and a director of the South East London Chamber of Commerce.

Valerie Coleman

Valerie Coleman has had a varied career, including regional and national roles with Citizens Advice focusing on policy and campaigns work and the national implementation of equalities legislation.

Valerie has been a member of the grants committee of The King’s Fund and has served as a councillor and chair of a local parish council.

Her most recent role was with the Maritime Charities Group where she was the Programme Development Manager and worked to support the coalition of 10 maritime charities. She has commissioned extensive groundbreaking research on the UK’s maritime welfare charity sector.

Since 2007 Valerie has worked closely with the Seafarers Hospital Society on several projects and publications, including in 2020 the Standard for Seafarers’ Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training. Valerie became a trustee at the Seafarers Hospital Society in 2021.

Dr Charlotte Mendes da Costa MBBS MRCGP MFHOM

A trustee of the Seafarers Hospital Society since 2009, Charlotte has strong family connections with the Society as a relative, John Lydekker, who died in 1832, was a generous benefactor. Several family members have served as trustees, including her father, Anthony Lydekker and her great grandfather Captain Guy Lydekker.

Charlotte is a qualified doctor and works as a GP in the NHS and has a particular interest in prevention of disease, holistic and complementary medicine. As such she is well placed to take a strong interest in the health and wellbeing of seafarers and supports the work of the Society in all aspects, but especially with regard to its health projects.

As well as working in a busy General Practice and having a private practice specialising in homeopathic medicine, Charlotte’s other charitable work includes serving on the Parochial Church Council for her local church where she is also a church warden.

Captain Rachel Dunn MNM

Rachel Dunn started her career as a cadet with Shell Tankers where she served on tankers and bulk carriers and obtained her Masters Certificate of Competency. Rachel left Shell and joined Wightlink as their first female officer, rising to the rank of Senior Master. After a number of years,  she left Wightlink and became an Admiralty Pilot in Portsmouth Harbour where she was able to continue her love of ship handling, mainly piloting naval vessels from an assortment of countries and assisting in the training of the bridge teams.

Rachel is also a Younger Brother of Trinity House and a Trinity House liaison with Portsmouth Sail Training Trust. She was awarded the Victoria Drummond Award in 2011 for raising the awareness of women in the marine industry and the Merchant Navy Medal in 2019 for services to the careers of young seafarers. Rachel became a trustee at the Seafarers Hospital Society in 2018.


Mike Jess BEM

Mike is senior policy adviser at Nautilus International, a position he has held since semi-retirement from the union in August 2016. He was previously assistant general secretary of Nautilus International, secretary of Nautilus Welfare Fund, a trustee and director of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, and Maritime Charities Funding Group, and chair of the Maritime Education Trust.

Mike was appointed a trustee director and deputy chair of Ensign Retirement Plan Trustees Limited in May 2015 when the Fund was incorporated. In addition to his role on the Ensign Retirement Plan Board, Mike has served as a member-nominated trustee of the MNOPF since 2011 and appointed Vice-Chair from 1 September 2014.

Mike was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2017 New Year Honours in recognition of his work in support of seafarer welfare services.

Graham Lane

Graham is a trustee and Honorary Treasurer at Seafarers Hospital Society and has been with the Society since 2011.

Graham has an accounting background, and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role. He is involved with a number of charities including one in the maritime world.

Dr Frank Leonard

Dr Leonard joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a student in Dundee in 1979 and, after graduating in 1980, enjoyed a wide range of duties with the RN Medical Services in parallel with NHS work. 

He joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Service in 1988, serving in the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic, before becoming Principal Medical Adviser to the RFA, a singleton post, in 1992. Building on lessons from the Falklands conflict and experience in the Gulf, he worked to align the RFA Medical Branch, in operational terms, with that of the Royal Navy (RN), and to establish an effective occupational health function for the RFA which was, and remains, the largest single employer of UK-registered merchant personnel.

Transferring to the RN in 2004, Dr Leonard served as NMOH (Fleet) and PMA RFA until 2006 and became the first Senior Medical Officer (Service Entry), responsible for the application of medical standards for entry to the Royal Navy. From 2010 until retirement in 2016, he was consultant occupational physician at HM Naval Base, Faslane.

Also in this section

Past projects

Seafarers Hospital Society has run a number of exciting health projects, and innovative pilot programmes. Learn more about some of the past projects.

Read more

Our history

The Seafarers Hospital Society was founded in 1821 as the Seamen’s Hospital Society, by a group of philanthropists in response to the increasing number of homeless and impoverished seafarers living on the streets of London after the Napoleonic wars. In 2021 the Society celebrates its bicentenary. Read more about our illustrious history with a walk through our interactive timeline.

Read more

News and publications

The Seafarers Hospital Society offers a selection of free publications which we hope will be of interest to you.

Read more

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