Physical branch meetings are currently cancelled due to COVID-19. However there are virtual activities being run by some branches. Please contact your local branch for more information.

We hope you find the information on these pages helpful. Our team is working tirelessly to provide up to date advice in relation to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. Record numbers of people are now turning to NASS for support, and we hope to be here for everyone. Our helpline and advice service are only possible thanks to donations from people like you.

If you are able to make a donation to NASS today, we'd be so grateful.


Our Trustees

Meet our elected trustees who work to guide our charity

Our Trustees include people with axial SpA (AS) and health professionals


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.


Danny McFarlane (2018)

Danny was diagnosed with AS at the age of 22 having had symptoms since the age of 14. He has 25 years of experience as a Financial Advisor as well as having ran his own FCA regulated company for 12 years. He has presented at NASS events, offering advice on insurance, and is passionate about helping others living with the condition. Danny lives in London with his wife and two children.

Elected Members

Paul Curry (2018)

Paul has been an active member of NASS since his diagnosis in 2008. From representing NASS at conferences to speaking in the media and at the Houses of Parliament, Paul has been a strong spokesperson for NASS since he joined the organisation. He has also organised fundraising events and helped many times at Members Day ‘Friends & Family’ sessions. Paul lives in Durham with his wife and three children and is a Director of a Garden Centre & Landscape Company.

Dr Karl Gaffney (2010)

Dr Gaffney has been a Consultant Rheumatologist in Norwich for over 20 years where he has  established a large multidisciplinary spondyloarthritis clinic and has worked closely with NASS Norwich. As well as a NASS Trustee he also is Chair of the NASS Medical Advisory board and Treasurer of BRITSpA, a group of healh professionals specialising in spondyloarthritis. He has published widely in the field and been an invited speaker at many National and International meetings.

Ben Hoare (2009)

Ben has been a NASS member since diagnosis back in 1996. Over the years 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 has been working with NASS on a variety of projects including the website and AS News as well as fundraising for the charity. 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 on a regular basis for the charity. Poppy has been symptomatic with her AS since her late teens.  Poppy did contribute to the AS world as a clinical research nurse in Bath, involved with many drug trials. Poppy is excited to be a member of the Council of Management.

Monika Mayhew (2017)

Monika was diagnosed with AS at the age of 19 and became NASS’s youngest trustee when she was elected at the age of 21. 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.

Patricia O’Callaghan (2018)

Patricia was diagnosed with AS in 2014, following 25 years of unexplained low back pain during pregnancy. She is a member of NASS London Tooting and is passionate about helping NASS to reduce the delay to diagnosis and in particular raising awareness of AS amongst GPs and other health care professionals. She has studied law to postgraduate level in London and worked as a legal assistant and case worker in law centres.

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.

Raj Sengupta (2011)

Dr Sengupta is a Consultant Rheumatologist and Lead for axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. He looks after over 1000 patients with axSpA. He has been been a Trustee of NASS since 2011 and a member of the NASS Medical Advisory Board since 2012. Raj has represented NASS at the Houses of Parliament on many occasions to raise awareness of axSpA. He was the recipient of the 2016 NASS Patients Choice Award for the best care provided by a rheumatologist.

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. She also holds regular fundraisers for NASS and volunteers in the office when needed. She is also a member of the Executive Committee for NASS.

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 has 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 has campaigned against closure of the local hydrotherapy pools.

Vice Presidents

Dr Andrei Calin MRCP FRCP (1985)

Following a distinguished career in rheumatology, Dr Calin retired in 2005. During his career he won prizes, scholarships and awards; held honorary and scholastic memberships of 9 medical boards; served on committees and editorial boards; edited two important textbooks on AS; and 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 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)

Dr Jacoby is a retired rheumatologist. 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 Guidebook for NASS and set up the first meeting outside London in 1978.

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People Sally Helpline

By your side

Since 1976, NASS has been here to help. We have the information you need, along with a community of people who understand.

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