Last updated:7th March 2018

Council of Management

The Council of Management comprises AS patients and health professionals 

Vice Presidents:

Dr Andrei Calin MRCP FRCP (1985)

Following a distinguished career in rheumatology, Dr Calin retired in 2005. During his career he won 12 prizes, scholarships and awards; held honorary and scholastic memberships of 9 national and international medical boards; has served on over 20 committees and editorial boards; has produced chapters in many books; has been editor of two important textbooks on AS; and has written over 300 original and review articles and abstracts on AS. Dr Calin has had a long association with NASS having held the post of Chairman from 1985 until 2003. Dr Calin was elected Vice President at the 34th Annual General Meeting held on 18 June 2011 in recognition of his services to NASS.

Hedley Hamilton (2004)

Hedley Hamilton was Chairman and Treasurer of the NASS Lewisham branch before being elected to the NASS Council in 2004 and invited to take the post of Chair in 2007. He stepped down as Chairman in 2014 after 6 successful years in the role and was elected in the honorary position of Vice President in 2015. Since 2011 Hedley has been Vice President of the Ankylosing Spondylitis International Federation (ASIF).


Dr Richard Jacoby MD FRCP (1976)

Richard is a retired rheumatology consultant. He has enjoyed a long association with NASS having been on the NASS committee since its inception in 1976 and involved in setting up the organisation with the first director and founder Dr Allan St John Dixon. He wrote the first Guide Book for NASS and set up the first meeting outside London in 1978.


Raj Mahapatra (2014)

Having been a regular fundraiser for NASS for the previous 5 years, Raj Mahapatra was elected Chair in June 2014. Raj was diagnosed with AS in 1994 but only discovered NASS in 2009 after having discovered a pain management regime that allows him to revisit his passion for running, something he now does on a daily basis. Raj is married with two children.

Elected Members

Eric N C Eustance (1985)

Eric is a Chartered Management Accountant and Corporate Treasurer now retired. He was diagnosed with AS in 1967 after many years of discomfort. A member of NASS since 1985 and a member of Council since 1992 serving as NASS Treasurer until Simon Frost took over in 2008. Eric is an enthusiastic proponent of hydrotherapy for the management of AS.


Dr Karl Gaffney (2010)

Karl Gaffney has been a Consultant Rheumatologist in Norwich for 15 years where he has established a large multidisciplinary spondyloarthropathy clinic and has worked closely with the local NASS Norwich group which was founded in 1988. He is also Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of East Anglia; founder member of the UK Spondyloarthropathy Research Group; medical advisor to NASS; co-author of the NASS report "Looking Ahead: Best practice for the care of people with Ankylosing Spondylitis"; co-author of the BSR Guidelines on anti-TNF therapy for AS; and has represented the British Society of Rheumatology at the NICE appraisal of anti-TNF for AS.  He has published widely in the field and been an invited speaker at many National and International meetings.

Claire Harris (2007)

Claire qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist in 1984 at St Mary's Hospital, London. Claire has worked at Northwick Park Hospital since 1996 where she is a part-time Senior Physiotherapist in the AS clinic and runs the local NASS group. Her current responsibilities include the assessment of AS patients being treated with anti-TNF and AS education groups. Claire is also Chair of AStretch, a group of UK physiotherapists that steer the management and improve the understanding of AS. Claire has been a trustee of NASS since 2007.


Ben Hoare (2009)

Ben's symptoms of AS started in 1993, when he was 20 years old and at university. He was diagnosed three years later. Over the following decade his AS has had a huge impact on him socially, professionally and financially, so he has extensive first-hand experience of the many difficulties that young people with the condition face every day of their lives. Ben's story has a happy ending because he is fortunate to be receiving a treatment that works for him.Ben has been working with NASS on a variety of projects including the website and more recently, AS News. Ben works as a writer and editor and is currently employed by the BBC.


Poppy Hocken (2017)

Poppy has been a member of NASS for a number of years and along with her family has been actively involved in fundraising achieving a considerable sum for the charity. 

Poppy has suffered from AS since her teens but did not get a formal diagnosis for the condition until she was 35 years of age. TPoppy is fortunate to live in Bath and therefore receives gold standard treatment at the RNHRD from Dr.Raj Sengupta and his team of healthcare professionals. Poppy also contributes to the AS world as a clinical research nurse, involved with many drug trials for AS, working with Raj at the RNHRD. Most recently utilising her expertise as both a professional and a patient, she had a regular slot with the advice line known as ’Poppy’s Seeds of Wisdom’.

Dr Andrew Keat (2009)

Dr Keat is Consultant Physician and Rheumatologist at Northwick Park and St Mark's Hospitals NHS Trust; Honorary Consultant Physician at Hammersmith Hospitals Trust and Honorary Consultant in Rheumatology at St Mary's Hospital NHS Trust. He has received many prestigious awards throughout his career; is a member of various learned societies and economic bodies; and has lectured extensively and written widely on AS. Dr Keat joined the NASS Council of Management as a Co-opted Member in 2009 and stands on the NASS Medical Advisory Board. He was a co-author of the NASS report "Looking Ahead: Best practice for the care of people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)". Dr Keat was elected to stand as an Ordinary Member of the Council of Management in 2011.


Monika Mayhew (2017)

Monika was diagnosed with AS at the age of 19 whilst studying in Australia and became NASS's youngest trustee when she was elected at the age of 21 at the 2017 AGM. She found coming to terms with the diagnosis overwhelming and distressing but has since found NASS and started on anti TNF therapy. As a trustee Monika pledges to raise awareness and spread support to young people dealing with a diagnosis, particularly through the use of social media which she feels is more appropriate for young people. She wants to make NASS more approachable for young people and increase intergenerational dialogue to help everyone learn from each other. Following her election, Monika returned to university where she is studying to be a paramedic and also volunteers for St John Ambulance.


Ruth Miller (2010)

Ruth was diagnosed with AS in the late 1980s, but, like many others, had undoubtedly had the disease for several years prior to this. Following her diagnosis Ruth joined NASS and attended the Bath branch - until the Salisbury branch was formed in 1997. Ruth was formerly the branch contact and was for a number of years Treasurer. She has been an in patient at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath on a number of occasions which has had a huge impact on her understanding of AS, allowing Ruth to meet a wonderful variety of fellow patients and to appreciate the numerous ways that AS can affect people's lives.

Grant Poiner (2011)

Grant Poiner joined NASS in 2008 and is a member of the NASS Branch in Swansea. He was diagnosed with AS when he was 16 years old. He has tried various treatments and was in a great deal of discomfort until he was recently placed on an anti TNF treatment which has transformed his life.

Grant works full time as a Training Development Co-ordinator for a youth work organisation and is currently undertaking an MA in Youth Work. He is also a member of various Executive meetings particularly CWVYS (Council in Wales for Voluntary Youth Services). He has 3 young children and tries to live life as normally as possible. Grant was elected to the Council of Management as an Ordinary Member in 2011. 

Raj Sengupta (2011)

Dr Raj Sengupta is a Consultant Rheumatologist at The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath (RNRHD) and The BMI Bath Clinic in Bath. Dr Sengupta completed his speciality training in Bath and Bristol. His specialist and research interests are in ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and he has published on the subject in peer reviewed international journals. Dr Sengupta is the Lead Consultant for AS, Biologic Therapies and the MDEMO Education program at the RNHRD. He is Co Chair of the BSR Spondyloarthritis Special Interest Group and has memberships with the Royal College of Physicians, British Society for Rheumatology, Medical Protection Society, National Osteoporosis Society and the Royal Society of Medicine. Dr Sengupta joined NASS as a member in 2010 and was appointed to the Council of Management as a Co-Opted Member in 2011, and then elected as an Ordinary Member in 2014.


Roger Stevens (2013)

Roger Stevens was diagnosed with AS in 1992  Anti-TNF medication has really helped his mobility over the last few years, although he still suffers from other MSK difficulties. Roger joined the Portsmouth branch of NASS in 1996, a move he says changed his life. He joined the branch committee in 2000 and became chairman in 2009/10. Since Roger became chairman the branch has doubled its effective attendance and started a 3rd group in 2013. He is a volunteer at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, and is now part of the Portsmouth hospitals rheumatology AS Working Group, is the new joint chairman of the Southern ARMA (Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance) and has assisted in the development of the new AS Personal Care Plan and provides the patient viewpoint session during local AS day-time courses held at Queen Alexandra Hospital. As a career, Roger ran a logistics division in Portsmouth Naval Base and spent 31 years supporting the Fleet before leaving in Sept 2013. Having spent many years as a Scout Leader, in 2008 he left the movement after 28 years as a leader and some 600 plus nights under canvas!

Peter Wheatley-Price (2007)

Peter's symptoms of AS started in his 20's. He cares passionately about improving the diagnosis of AS and ensuring that patients are easily able to access disease modifying medicines should they be clinically appropriate. Peter qualified as a Registered General Nurse in Oxford and following 7 years in the NHS he left to enter University as a mature student where he gained an International Business Studies degree with French. Since then he has worked for a number of pharmaceutical companies. Peter is married with two daughters and a Springer spaniel. In an effort to stay fit and flexible he walks the dog, mountain bikes and plays squash.

Co-opted Members:

Nick Clarke (2017)

Nick was diagnosed with AS in 2014. He is passionate about advocating for early intervention, early diagnosis and how to promote Physical Activity and other treatments in order to support reduction in pain and progression. Nick has worked in the field of Public Health and Physical Activity for over 15 years specialising in intervention design, behaviour change and the impact of Physical Activity on a range of health conditions.


Gillian Eames (2015)

Gillian has lived with AS for over 30 years. With the support of NASS and the RNHRD in Bath she has stayed in control of her AS. She was medically retired from Local Government in 1999 which had a huge impact on her life. Gillian spends a lot of time helping other AS patients find the right help and support. 

Jean Morton (2015)

Jean was diagnosed with AS in 2001, aged 39, although her symptoms had started in her early twenties. In 2004 after much encouragement from her Physiotherapist and Consultant Jean joined NASS, and made a huge decision of joining the NASS Glasgow Gartnavel Group! Both of these "leaps of faith" were a turning point for Jean. She took over as Chair of NASS Glasgow Gartnavel in 2010 and her main aim is to raise awareness of AS, not just in Rheumatology, but in orthopedic departments, GP surgeries and among Physiotherapists.


Peter Townsend (2015)

Peter was diagnosed with AS in his early twenties, having had symptoms for a few years previously. He has been a NASS member for 20 years and been involved in the NASS Grimsby branch since soon after its opening; Peter is currently the Chair of the branch.He has been active in raising the profile of AS and have campaigned against closure of the local hydrotherapy pools. He recently retired after 33 years working in the NHS, where he worked initially as an accountant and then moved into commissioning.