Piers McLeish

CEO (Volunteer) & Trustee

Piers McLeishAfter graduating with a degree in International Business and Modern Languages in 1993, I started my career at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), followed by various management positions at MBNA International Bank in Chester.

In 2004, I joined the board of directors of a small software consulting firm which has since become the Access Group, one of the largest privately owned software companies in the UK. I held a number of different leadership positions over that period including Regional Managing Director and Director of Professional Services.

In 2018, I took advantage of an opportunity to exit the business in order to change gear and pursue a number of different projects and passions. Joining The Joshua Tree is one of these. I hope to bring my experience of business leadership to my new role to support the team as it does its fantastic work for our beneficiaries.

Lynda Hill

Mum of Joshua, Founder & Clinical Counsellor

Lynda HillFollowing the completion of my degree in Psychology in 1989, I worked as a Residential Child Care Officer for Berkshire Social Services, where I supported children and young people with emotional and learning difficulties. A change in role took me to Cheshire in 1990 when I married David Hill (Dad to Joshua and Chair of Trustees) and took up the post of Assistant Psychologist at West Cheshire NHS Trust. This developed into the role of Research Psychologist after I obtained an MSc in Practitioner Research.

Taking a career break to look after my three children, I completed a post-graduate diploma in Clinical and Pastoral Counselling with a view to returning to work once the children had all started school. My plans dramatically changed when Joshua, my youngest son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in September 2004 when he was 5 years old. Consequently, my role was very much devoted to being a full-time carer to Joshua over the three years of his treatment.

I soon learned that there wasn’t a provision for families affected by childhood cancers in Cheshire, this is where The Joshua Tree came in. Through my experience of caring for a young child with cancer, I realised that I wanted to combine this first-hand understanding with my skills in psychology and counselling to be able to support families going through a similar situation. To aid me in taking on the leadership role of running the charity, I completed a post-graduate degree in Strategic Management and Leadership.

As the service has developed, my passion for supporting families has continued and after completing 3 years of study for an MA in Clinical Counselling, I am now qualified and working as a person-centred therapist.

My interest in research continues and I am keen for The Joshua Tree to develop links with surrounding universities to better understand the effects that childhood cancer has on a family emotionally, cognitively and physically. I am currently studying part-time for a PhD in Psychological Trauma where I am exploring the emotional support needs of grandparents whose grandchild has had a childhood cancer diagnosis, including bereaved grandparents.

Fun fact: I have a secret desire to meet the Strictly dancers and perform with them!

Rachael Birdsey

Family Support Manager and Head of Childhood Therapeutic Services

Rachael BirdseyHaving worked primarily in education as a Primary Teacher and then in the NHS as a Health Play Specialist, I’ve worked with children all my life.

I was privileged to have known the Hill family through Josh’s treatment and started working at The Joshua Tree in 2015, then progressed to Family Support Lead in 2017.

I am a Mum to two very wonderful and funny children and have had personal experience of childhood cancer through my daughter’s brain tumour: I know that the journey doesn’t end when the treatment does. This drives my passion to support families in any small way we can and I love working with such special people and being a part of a fantastically caring team.

I recently studied Family and Child Psychology at Chester University to develop my understanding.

Fun fact: I’m slightly obsessed with boxing (especially Anthony Joshua!); I love a good cheese and jam sandwich; I eat copious amounts of brandy cream straight from the tub but only at Christmas obviously!

Sian Longley

Family Support Manager and Head of Teenage Therapeutic Services

Sian LongleyI completed my degree in Glasgow University qualifying with an MA in Social Science (Management Studies). Following this I worked abroad for a while before deciding to enter into the teaching profession.

I qualified as a secondary school teacher in 2004 and worked as Head of Faculty for Business and Vocational subjects. In 2013 my Daughter Isobel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). I left work temporarily to care for my daughter and realised that we needed some support with processing what we had been through. This is where I first heard about The Joshua Tree; the charity worked closely with Isobel and her sister Abbigail offering support and play therapy.

It was at this point that I became aware that I would like to help support families in North Wales as they navigate the cancer journey. I became full time with the charity in September 2019 and soon after we started leasing our first space in North Wales to support local families.

Sara King

Children's Primary School Support Worker

SaraKingHaving joined the Family support Team in January 2020, I am excited to be a part of this wonderful charity, providing families with support specific to their individual journeys.

I have 20 years’ experience of working within various roles of Family Support, where I have gained extensive knowledge and understanding of approaches that influence positive family functioning and boost child confidence, self- esteem and resilience. I am also a qualified Parenting Group Leader and a Mum of three children myself.

My role mainly focuses on supporting Primary school age children, delivering therapeutic interventions that assist them to manage any difficulties they face relating to their experience with cancer.

Fun Fact: I love a good hill walk followed by a hot Radox bath!

Katie Harrison

Family Support Administrator

KatieHarrison(2)I joined The Joshua Tree as the Family Support Administrator, having previously worked in the Higher Education providing careers advice and support to students and graduates. Prior to this, I worked within the charity sector as a Volunteer Coordinator for a tutoring programme. I'm passionate about educational disadvantage and inspiring young people to be the best that they can be. 

I completed my degree in Creative Expressive Therapies (BA Hons) at the University of Derby. As an Arts & Health Practitioner I have developed skills in using the arts to help people in communities to engage in creative activities, to improve their confidence, health, and wellbeing etc. 

Interesting Fact: I once abseiled down the side of a Cathedral for a children's charity fundraiser! I'm anything arts, crafts, pottery obsessed. I'm at my happiest when I am in my scruffs at the pottery wheel, getting covered in clay.

Sally Shakeshaft

Operations Manager

Sally ShakeshaftI joined The Joshua Tree in October 2017 as Operations Manager for Family Support and work closely with the Senior Management team ensuring effective delivery of all the core services we provide. I am responsible for producing, implementing and maintaining all policies, processes and procedures and manage all aspects of HR support and recruitment.

A key element of my work is to ensure that processes are in place to enable the Family Support team to provide support to our families in every way possible. I have found it truly rewarding and love every minute of working for The Joshua Tree. We have an amazing team who are excited for the future in our new centre.

Fun fact: I am a keen follower of Warrington Wolves Rugby League team and have a phobia of glitter.

Sue McGregor-Ogden

Finance Manager

Sue McGregor-OgdenI am a Chartered Accountant and have previously worked in finance and change management in global businesses for many years, until I took a career break to care for my son when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

This was when we first encountered The Joshua Tree, receiving desperately needed support as we prepared for and recovered from his bone marrow transplant.

Following his recovery, I became a volunteer for both The Joshua Tree and the NHS, which led to me joining The Joshua Tree as Finance Manager in October 2018.

Fun fact: I love to ski and spend whatever time I can in Switzerland.

Joanne Leigh

Finance Officer 

I became involved with The Joshua Tree in Autumn 2012 when I joined as a volunteer. When I was offered the chance to join the charity as Finance Officer in September 2014 I was thrilled. Having been involved for several years I have seen the charity grow and go from strength to strength. There are exciting times ahead and I love that every day is different.

Fun Fact: I am the fool of the office, April fool that is: an easy birthday to remember at least!

Pippa Watson-Peck

Communications and Fundraising Manager 

Pippa Watson-PeckI joined The Joshua Tree in the summer of 2018. I had been aware of the charity for many years as I lived locally and had been involved in fundraising, so was eager to get involved and make the difference I could to the families the charity supports. My role consists of overseeing the Income Generation Team,  managing, coordinating and monitoring all fundraising and external communication activities for the charity.

I work with community groups, individuals and businesses across the North West and North Wales to support them with their fundraising and increase awareness of The Joshua Tree charity as we continue to grow.

I didn’t appreciate how many families are affected by childhood cancers until joining The Joshua Tree, and knowing the difference we can make, makes me strive to achieve the best results possible for our families.

Fun fact: I am a qualified Hypnotherapist and studying a Level 5 diploma in Psychotherapy alongside my role at The Joshua Tree, and loving every bit of it all!

Helen Ritchie

Corporate Partnership Officer

Helen RitchieI joined The Joshua Tree in April 2019 as Corporate Partnership Officer, having previously worked in the Entertainment industry for more than 20 years and latterly in the independent education sector.

I am passionate about training people through education and am lucky enough to join an amazing and dedicated team at The Joshua Tree who also share the same passion.

My new role will allow me to rekindle existing relationships and start to build new ones which can only make a huge difference.

Fun fact: I have quite an eclectic taste in music and have seen numerous live artists over the years - the highlight probably being seeing Abba in 1976 and Freddie Mercury and Queen in 1982.

Juliet Brazendale

Events and Fundraising Co-ordinator

JulesI qualified as a Dance and Musical Theatre Teacher at Laine Theatre Arts College in Epsom, Surrey.  After performing and choreographing in the fast lane down South, I decided to move back to Northwich where I founded Elite Dancers.

I wanted to pass on my expertise to other children in my local area to build their self-confidence in dance, drama and performance skills. My motto was “bringing communities together through dance”. Running Elite Dancers has given me excellent experience working with young children and families putting on events and shows on a regular basis.

My passion has always been to perform and put on a show so to be able to do this for The Joshua Tree is an absolute pleasure!

Fun Fact: I love gardening and I’m a massive Game of Thrones fan!

Kate Deakin

Volunteer Lead

Kate DeakinWith a background in Relationship Management within the charity sector, as well as working within the welfare sector for many years I am excited to join the Charity at such an exciting time moving into the new purpose built family support Centre and building a strong team of Joshua Tree volunteers. My role consists of managing all aspects of Volunteering from the very grassroots of meeting, recruiting and training volunteers, to overseeing and leading our wonderful volunteers in every aspect of their role here at the Joshua Tree. Volunteers contribute to such a significant amount and play such a vital part in any charity and without them devoting their very valuable time and support we just would not be able to survive without the volunteering team here at the Joshua Tree. It is my job to make them feel appreciated and listened to so that their time spent with us here is a happy and momentous experience.

Fun fact: I absolutely live for holidays in the sun and believe that "holiday blues" are a real thing. I have a slight obsession with Outer Space, visiting space centres and owning Professor Brian Cox Wonders of the Universe book collection.

Brendan Spruce

Caretaker and Maintenance Officer

Kate DeakinI joined the team in January 2020 as Caretaker and Maintenance Officer, having previously been a Police Officer with Greater Manchester Police and Detective in South Manchester.  I also spent 10 years as a Prison Officer working and educating juvenile and young offenders.

I became aware of the fantastic work that The Joshua Tree do when my grandson developed a rare Rhabdoid Tumour and take pride in being part of an amazing team delivering support to families as they did mine.

Fun Fact: I am an avid fan of steam train traction engines and Northern Soul music and dance.

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