Maxine Birch (Chair of Trustees)
Maxine initially trained as an Occupational Therapist in Oxford and worked in both mental health and orthopedic services. Over the last 20 years she has been involved with the education of health and social care practitioners and currently Maxine works as a Senior Lecturer for The Open University. Her interest in research methods and health and well-being, informs her enthusiasm for promoting community singing groups as an activity that meets a wide range of health and social needs. Maxine has found participating in such community singing groups particularly helpful for her own health problems.
Helen Hewlett (Secretary and Charity Manager)
Helen has worked in statutory social and health care services, and also has many years’ experience of working in the voluntary sector locally. During time as a home care assistant for Oxford Social Services and then in the Bereavement Service at the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, Helen came to appreciate how support and poignant communications come from unexpected places, such as singing together. Helen has experience developing community initiatives such as The Befriending Network, Oxford LETSystem, East Oxford Farmers’ & Community Market and Oxford Community Markets. She is keen to support opportunities which enable people to make positive connections in their communities, building resilience and social capital.
Paul Lewis (Treasurer)
After taking a music degree, Paul went into corporate publishing, working for Macmillan, Penguin and Heinemann. While with Heinemann he spent five years as managing director of their Australian school publishing operation before returning to the UK to set up Reed Elsevier’s educational electronic publishing division. After leaving publishing Paul completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Music and Health, at UWE in Bristol, and has volunteered in various roles relating to adult mental health. A keen singer, Paul is currently a member of Oxford Pro Musica Singers and is passionate about the health benefits of singing. Paul has three adult sons and five grandchildren.
John Pearce (Trustee)
John has lived and worked in Oxfordshire for many years, working as a practitioner and manager in mental health services. He is currently enjoying a spell commissioning services for the County Council Social and Community services where he is in frequent contact with older people and their families, often concerning caring matters and dementia. How arts in general and singing in particular can contribute to wellbeing has been a personal passion and professional interest for many years.
Paul Cann (Trustee)
Paul Cann joined Age Concern (now Age UK) Oxfordshire as its Chief Executive in April 2009. Age UK Oxfordshire works at grassroots level to help older people and their families live in comfort, with support and enjoying opportunities to live life to the full.
Paul read English Literature at King’s College Cambridge, also holding a Choral Scholarship. After teaching for five years, he joined the Civil Service where he held a range of postings at the Cabinet Office, including working as a Private Secretary to successive Cabinet Ministers, including the Minister for the Arts. A subsequent spell in the private sector included working for ‘The Independent’ newspaper. He joined the charity world in 1992 as Director of the British Dyslexia Association and subsequently of the National Autistic Society. He was a Trustee of the disability charity Contact a Family for five years, a charity which supports carers and people with special needs or disabilities.
From 2000 to his arrival at Age Concern Oxfordshire he was Director of Policy and External Relations at Help the Aged, where he had responsibility for research, policy, international strategy, media and external relations. He brought together research and policy, and was particularly involved in Help the Aged’s work on pensioner poverty, social exclusion and care issues. As Director with responsibility for international affairs, he helped to reshape the charity’s international programme and increased Help the Aged’s own profile and activity. From 2004-07 Paul held a Visiting Fellowship at the Oxford Institute of Ageing.
In 2008 Paul was awarded the medal of the British Geriatrics Society for an outstanding contribution to the well-being of older people. In 2009 he was appointed an Associate Fellow of the International Longevity Centre and also in that year a Charter Member of the charity Independent Age. He co-edited ‘Unequal Ageing (Policy Press, 2009), which examines in turn the injustice and inequalities experienced by older people in income, housing, health, and many other aspects of daily life. Paul chairs the Public Policy Panel of the national charity Age UK. He and Age UK Oxfordshire are founding members of the national Campaign to End Loneliness. He is a Board member of NDTi, an agency promoting social inclusion across all ages and stages.