For help and support, call 01252 913021

Patrons & Trustees


Lady Shirreff

The last 34 years of following the drum with her soldier and becoming the mother, and mother-in-law of soldiers has given Lady Shirreff wide experience of military people, places and professional activity.

Originally qualifying and working as a dyslexia therapist, she subsequently trained with Relate as a relationship counsellor and psycho-sexual therapist, and has practised in this capacity since 1998.

Her husband’s deployment to Iraq in 2006 led to very close involvement with wounded soldiers in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham and Headley Court. In particular, Lady Shirreff has extensive experience of helping service personnel and their families cope with the impact of separation, operational deployment and, for some, the consequent injuries.

She is a passionate supporter of Julia and Sue’s inspired creation of The Ripple Pond and is keen to help in any way that she can.

Mrs Julia Molony – Co-Founder, The Ripple Pond, MBACP (accred)

As one of the Founders of The Ripple Pond, Julia, over the past few months has started slowing down from the every day running of the Charity. On stepping back, the Trustees have asked Julia to take on the role of Patron alongside Sarah-Jane, while she continues her incredible work to promote The Ripple Pond as far and wide as she can. Julia regularly attends events such as the Combat Stress Family Days, open days and tirelessly offers GP’s around the country training to understand families with an injured loved one.  


Mark Houghton


Mark was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1977 and served in many locations in the United Kingdom and abroad during his 36 years in the Army. His final appointment was within the Defence Recovery Capability, in charge of a multi-disciplinary team as Commanding Officer of the long term wounded, injured and sick in London.

During his military career he became intimately involved with people focussed projects and latterly with tri-Service capabilities for personnel. Key roles included Head of the Army Job Evaluation programme, Head of Army Allowances Remuneration Policy and included a strategic audit of the implementation of the Ministry of Defence’s Safety Policy

Mark joined the Chartered Management Institute in 2013 as Ministry of Defence and Police Business Strategic Account Manager with responsibility for developing business across uniformed services, including membership, accreditation of courses and CMI approved centres. He also continues a key role in helping his wife run the family business and has national responsibilities as a steward for both British Eventing and the International Equestrian Federation. Mark is delighted to have become a Trustee of The Ripple Pond.

Nic Gordon


He brings with him diverse experience from within a competitive financial environment at Barclays. Nic is able to share fresh observations on the tough marketplace that is the charitable sector and potential funding pathways open to us. The Ripple Pond will benefit enormously from his input as we develop to create a strong, marketable strategy to move this charity forward.

Ursula Pile

Ursula is a retired Occupational Therapist, who has worked in spinal injuries (Stoke Mandeville UK and Sydney, Australia); Social Services in Hampshire and most recently back in the NHS while also running her own private practice. Ursula has been a volunteer caseworker with SSAFA for the past 11 years, keeping her in touch with the needs of veterans and their families, and for the last five years has specialised in assisting veteran offenders in prison. She is now the SSAFA Sussex Branch Secretary. Ursula lives with her husband (ex-Royal Navy) near Chichester.

Ursula has two sons, one serving in the Royal Navy, the other in the Army, both having completed several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her interests are gardening, walking, the theatre and of course her expanding family. With her professional background and personal involvement in military life, both as a wife and mother, Ursula has the experience to support the valuable and essential work provided by The Ripple Pond and is delighted to be a trustee.

Clare Roberts

After a long career as a management consultant concentrating on Human Resources in the third sector (mostly housing and charities) Clare is reducing her work load so has time to contribute in a volunteer capacity. She hopes to bring her experience as a Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development to assist with setting up the ongoing structure within the office and general staff issues. Although she does not have any direct connection to the armed services she has worked with organisations that provide services to those who have served and fully supports the aims of the The Ripple Pond and hopes she can make a contribution at this important stage in their development.
Clare splits her time between London and Cornwall – enjoys walking and gardening and spending less time on the computer.

Jessica Cheesman

Jessica Cheesman has been a Ripple Pond member from the beginning. She is a mother of severely brain injured Serviceman who was injured in 2007 in Basra Palace, Iraq. Jessica has three other children all of whom were deeply affected by their brother’s injury. She is a civil servant working for the Home Office in Westminster and worked closely with the MOD in early 2000 until 2010. She has experience of working with Ministers and challenged the Veterans Minister to review the compensation payment to injured Servicemen and women. This was subsequently increased.
She is passionate about the quality of care currently provided for veterans and access to NHS services. Juggling work, home, challenging the after care for her son, volunteering to run the canteen for her local Little League football teams every Saturday, and looking after her family takes a bit of organisation but she still finds time for orienteering, fitness and exercise, reading, cooking, and being positive.
Jessica looks forward to being a Trustee and helping veterans and their families.

Matt Fossey

Matt Fossey FRSA is the Director of the Veterans and Families Institute (VFI) at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). He originally trained as a mental health social worker and after seven years of front line work took a leap of faith to work on service improvement with the National Institute for Mental Health. After a short period he moved to the Department of Health where he was the Deputy Director of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme. Matt has also worked on the mental health anti-stigma campaign “Time to Change” as the national stakeholder manager. After leaving the DH he worked as an independent consultant and as an Advisor and Senior Associate for the Centre for Mental Health, a national policy think tank.

Matt has written widely on issues relating to veterans and their families and currently holds a number of research grants at ARU. Within the VFI he works with a vibrant and dedicated team of post-doctoral researchers to investigate a range of important topics. Matt has also written widely on psychological medicine and the delivery of mental health interventions in general hospitals.
For the last five years Matt has been the vice-chair of Healthwatch Essex, and since the organisations move to charity status has been vice-chair of the board of Trustees. He is reluctantly stepping down from this role to enable him to focus on future exciting developments with The Ripple Pond.