New Chair of Leonard Cheshire appointed

Neil Goulden has succeeded David Grayson CBE as Chair of Leonard Cheshire. 

David has led the charity through a period of significant reshaping and resizing as part of a long-term plan to improve finances and modernise Leonard Cheshire. 

David said:

“It’s been a great privilege to work with the Executive and an incredibly dedicated Board of Trustees. The charity has faced some significant challenges over the past years, including the impact of the pandemic.

"This necessitated an intense period of activity for all involved and substantial progress has been achieved. Deciding to step down as Chair now has been an immensely difficult choice but it is right to do, given my other commitments and available time. I am delighted to be handing over the chair to Neil.”

Neil had a successful 35-year career in the leisure and hospitality sector, the last 25 at Board level with international brand names such as Ladbrokes, Compass and Gala Coral. The latter was an international group with 27,000 employees and profits of £400m a year.

Since stepping back from executive roles in 2011 Neil has devoted much of his time to supporting social purpose organisations in health, housing, education and employment. Neil sat on a number of NHS Boards over 19 years. From 2010 to 2019 Neil chaired Clarion, England’s largest housing association with 130,000 homes and 500,000 residents. 

He also sat on The Low Payment Commission from 2008 to 2016. Currently Neil chairs Nottingham Trent University (turnover of £400m with 40,000 students), Ambitious about Autism (a special needs education charity) and St Christophers Hospice in South East London. Neil also chaired Sue Ryder Care until 2021. He was also a Non-Exec and Chair at several FTSE 250 PLCs. Neil has also held several ministerial appointments.

Neil brings the depth of experience as a successful Chair in the public, private and third sector, that Leonard Cheshire needs as it continues its modernisation programme.

Neil said:

“I am honoured and proud to be joining the Board of Leonard Cheshire. My motivation is to support and develop the high quality of personalised care that we provide to disabled adults across the UK.

"I know that the modernisation process has at times been difficult and painful, and I have nothing but admiration for our dedicated executive team and all the staff who give such wonderful care day in day out, through the Covid pandemic and now a cost of living crisis. I look forward to working with them and fellow trustees as we move forward to deliver our shared ambitions for the charity and the people we serve.”

Ruth Owen OBE, CEO of Leonard Cheshire, said:

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support David has provided in recent years. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for everything he has done for Leonard Cheshire during his time as Chair and before.

"Neil brings a wealth of experience and insight to Leonard Cheshire and his appointment comes at a critical time, marking a new chapter for the charity as it moves forward. I am looking forward to working with Neil as we transform and strengthen Leonard Cheshire for the future.”   


Media enquiries

For further information please contact Robert Boyland on or call 0771 289 8745.