New face at helm of working animal charity Spana

Dr Mary-Lorraine Hughes is the new Chair of Trustees for working animal charity Spana. © Spana
Dr Mary-Lorraine Hughes is the new Chair of Trustees for working animal charity Spana. © Spana

Animal lover and long-standing Spana supporter Dr Mary-Lorraine Hughes has been appointed as the charity’s new Chair of Trustees.

Hughes was formally voted into her new role with Spana (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) last Friday. She brings extensive experience of both the charity sector and the business world to her new role, having spent her career serving in Chief Executive roles, including at Portmeirion Potteries PLC, Pilkington’s Tiles Group PLC and Twycross Zoo. Hughes has been a Trustee of Spana since January 2017.

She said that animal welfare had been a lifelong passion, particularly the welfare of working animals, whom she said are owed “an enormous debt of care by humankind”.

“Spana is currently facing unprecedented demand for its help, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the developing world. The collapse of local industries has left animal owners struggling to care for or even feed their working animals, and Spana is providing a lifeline for these animals,” Hughes said.

Hughes noted that since 1923, Spana had been transforming the lives of working animals in some of the world’s poorest countries through its provision of free veterinary care, along with the training of local animal owners and education of children in animal welfare. “I am very proud to be appointed as Chair of Spana, a charity that provides outstanding and comprehensive support for working animals.”

She said she was looking forward to working with Spana’s Trustees and staff “to ensure Spana can continue to be there for working animals as we move forward to the charity’s centenary in 2023, and beyond.”

Spana president Lord de Mauley said he was delighted with Hughes’s appointment. “Mary-Lorraine has all the necessary skills and experience to ensure that SPANA can grow the impact, effectiveness and reach of our vital work to transform the lives of working animals across nearly 30 developing countries.”

Dr Mary-Lorraine Hughes
Dr Mary-Lorraine Hughes. © Spana

Hughes will be supported in the role by Gavin Helmer as Deputy Chair of Spana. A leading financial services expert, Helmer has held several senior management roles at Credit Suisse, Standard Bank, UBS and Barclays. He has been a trustee of Spana since June 2014.

The appointments follow the recent resignation of former chair Richard Greenhalgh, who stood down to focus on the other organisations he currently chairs, as they are now demanding more of his time.

Greenhalgh led the organisational review of Spana during 2020, which put the charity in a stronger financial position while renewing its commitment to bettering the welfare of working animals abroad.

Initial priorities for Hughes and Helmer will include the appointment of Spana’s new Chief Executive.

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