Who are we?

Dr George Smerdon, MB BS DRCOG FRCGP – Chair of Trustees

George retired in 2008 after 35 years as a General Practitioner in Cambridgeshire UK. He has always had a special interest in palliative care and in 2010 was recruited to support the Tearfund Lake Region Palliative Care pilot programme in Tanzania. Since 2012 he has been a trustee of PCW supporting, through training and mentoring, a number of different palliative care programmes in Zambia and Ethiopia. Currently, along with fellow trustees, Gillian Chowns and Ruth Wooldridge, he is participating in the iECHO palliative care  programme for colleagues in Lesotho. This is to be followed up by face to face teaching in Lesotho in 2024.

George is a member of the PCW team responsible for producing the five. Palliative Care films released in December 2021.

Ruth Alderton, BSc (Psychology), BSc (Critical Care Nursing)

Ruth currently works as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (trainee) for Prospect Hospice, which provides specialist end of life and palliative care for people living in Swindon and North East Wiltshire. She is working towards a Masters in Advanced Clinical Practice and has worked in palliative care in both community and acute settings for over 10 years. Prior to specialising in palliative care, Ruth worked in Intensive Care and as a Critical Care Outreach Sister at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon. Ruth brings her dedication to providing quality end of life care to all who need it to the role of trustee and is keen to work in palliative care overseas in the future.

Dr Charlie Bond, BA Hons BmBc DTM&H MRCGP

Dr Charlie Bond originally trained as a GP but has been working in specialist palliative care for the last sixteen years. He has been Medical Director of Katharine House Hospice, Banbury since 2010 and is a Consultant in Palliative Medicine for the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (The Horton). He has an interest in the development of palliative care in resource-limited settings and an association with Africa begun in 1985 as a volunteer teacher in Kenya for a year, and later working in refugee camps on the Tanzania/Rwanda border. He developed and co-authored the Palliative Care Toolkit and has contributed to palliative care education and capacity-building in Malawi, Sierra Leone, China and Tanzania.

Dr Charles Campion-Smith, MB ChB DCH MA FRCGP

Charles was a GP in Dorchester for 30+ years with an interest in palliative care and primary care education. For much of that time he has worked with Macmillan on education for primary care teams and communication skills. With his wife Sue he worked in Korogwe in Tanzania in 2009 supporting the introduction of palliative care and building local capacity. They continue to visit and support the team with a distance learning programme. He made two visits to Homa Bay, Kenya as part of the THET / University of Edinburgh palliative care project. He is a mentor in DfID palliative care project working with Nyangao team by WhatsApp and Zoom meetings. As part of this project he has developed a Typeform to prompt local health workers’ systematic assessment of symptoms and record the outcomes.

Gillian Chowns, BA MSc PhD

Gillian was a senior lecturer in palliative care at Oxford Brookes University and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Southampton. A specialist palliative care social worker, whose PhD focussed on the experience of children living with the life threatening illness of a parent, her association with Africa goes back over 30 years. She has lived and taught in Kenya for several periods, and in 2007 travelled widely in East and southern Africa as a Winston Churchill Fellow, researching the effectiveness of palliative care education and the support offered to children of the terminally ill.

Since founding PCW she has taught and mentored in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia and Palestine.

As an independent, freelance supervisor, she has offered supervision to a number of hospices, most recently as a Bereavement Supervisor and Trainer. Publications include journal articles and book chapters and she co-edited a Special Issue on Palliative Care for the British Journal of Social Work Practice.

Stephen Chowns, BSc(Eng) MPhil – Secretary

Stephen retired following a career as a specialist in human resource management. He now does voluntary work in his local community and for the Youth Hostels Association. He was a volunteer 'Games Maker' at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games!

His career included HR appointments in industry and commerce, and lecturing and consultancy in both in the UK and Kenya. He focused particularly on employee relations, team-building, leadership and employment law.

Stephen’s responsibilities with PCW include managing our newsletter and website, and contributing his IT and video skills to our Training of Trainers programmes.

Dr Karilyn Collins, MBBS DTM&H Dip Pal Med MBE – Treasurer

Karilyn is a specialist palliative care physician with experience in the United Kingdom and Tanzania. She worked in both general practice and palliative care in the UK for 25 years after which she worked for 6 years in Tanzania and founded Muheza Hospice Care, the first independent hospice in the country to provide palliative care in both hospital and community.

Her particular field of interest is the integration of palliative care into HIV care and treatment programmes, and supporting Palliative Care Toolkit teaching and mentoring at various locations in Tanzania, Ghana, India, and Rwanda. Under her mentorship, the team in Dapagaon, India had a paper on the palliative care needs in HIV accepted for the 2016 IAPCON conference in Pune and a poster in the APCA conference in Uganda the same year.

She was awarded the MBE in 2011 for services to palliative medicine in Tanzania and the UK. In 2018 PCW was awarded an SCCF (Small Charities Challenge Fund) grant from UKAid to introduce palliative care to SE Tanzania. The project was led by Karilyn and, despite the problems of the Covid-19 pandemic,  successfully completed in 2021 with acclamation from the Tanzanian Department of Health.

Dr Michael Minton, BSc MBBS FRCP London

Michael was consultant in Palliative Medicine and Medical Director at Sir Michael Sobell House, Oxford University Hospitals for 21 years.  He has been involved in international palliative care training since 1988.

From 1992 until 2002 he was co-chair with Prof. Jacek Lucak (Poznan, Poland) of an annual five-day residential palliative care course in Poznan, which attracted doctors and health care staff from all over Central and Eastern Europe.

He has attended and contributed to the Indian Association of PC annual conferences since 1999.

He has supported the training at CanSupport, a community based PC charity in Delhi, India, which was founded by Harmala Gupta and Ruth Wooldridge.

Since retirement from the NHS he has been a mentor on projects in Rwanda (THET/University of Edinburgh) and Tanzania (PCW/UK Aid Direct).

Dr Fiona Rawlinson, MA MSc FRCP MRCGP SFHEA FAcadMEd

Fiona Rawlinson is a Professor at Cardiff University and Programme Director for the Palliative Medicine for Health Care Professionals’ MSc and postgraduate palliative care short courses. She originally trained as a GP and has been working in palliative care for 30 years. She is currently a Consultant in Palliative Medicine with the City Hospice community palliative care team in Cardiff.

Fiona’s enthusiasm for supporting and sharing knowledge extends across all modalities – face to face and on line courses and events. To date she has helped to establish and support palliative care education and training world wide through support for the international students on the Cardiff course and additional projects, in particular in sub Saharan and South Africa, India, Pakistan and Russia and the Central Asia and Eastern European regions.

Using creativity and innovation and combining clinical and personal experience underpins Fiona’s work in developing effective and impactful teaching programmes for all who are involved in palliative care delivery.

Weaving in and out of work are her husband – an orthogeriatrician and family, a Sprocker spaniel who needs plenty of exercise, art, music and writing. We can usually be found up mountains or by the sea.

Ruth Wooldridge, RGN OBE

Ruth trained as a nurse and midwife and immediately followed this by working in a rural hospital in Uganda with VSO. This ignited her interest in working overseas and several years later worked in Ethiopia for Oxfam.

While posted overseas as an accompanying spouse Ruth co-founded Nairobi Hospice and later CanSupport, a homebased palliative care service in Delhi and pioneered palliative care in Rwanda.

As a founder member and with PCW she has worked in Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Ruth co-authored the Palliative Care Toolkit for resource limited health settings 2008

She was awarded the Robert Tiffany RCN award for palliative care in Kenya, and the OBE for services to palliative care overseas in 2000.