Rebecca Porta


Rebecca Porta is Chief Executive of Bowel Research UK. She is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the charity.

Her career in the voluntary sector spans over 30 years and she has held senior roles with some of the UK’s leading health and medical research charities including The Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Migraine Trust, CancerBACUP (now Macmillan Cancer Support) and the British Lung Foundation. She was Chief Executive of the Orchid Cancer Appeal for over ten years and was responsible for driving transformation and growth including the introduction of Nurse led Supporter Services, community outreach programmes, training for health and social care professionals and award winning media campaigns. Orchid Cancer Appeal was a runner up in the 2019 GSK Impact Awards for outstanding contribution to improving the UK’s health and wellbeing. She led the representational and campaigning work of the charity and was involved in setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group on Male Cancer.

She is a Trustee of Cancer52, an alliance of 100 organisations working to address the issue of inequality for rare cancers. She is a member of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations), the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), Women in PR and until recently sat on the Committee of the CIPR Health & Medical Special Interest Group (HAMSIG) and was acting Chair of the Testicular Cancer Network.

Martine Gabbitass

Director of Finance and Operations

Martine heads up our finance and resource operations.

Lesley Booth

Director of Research and Patient & Public Involvement/Engagement

Dr Lesley Booth BA DipLib MSc PhD MBE is the Director of Research and Patient and Public Integration at Bowel Research UK.

As the Director of Research and PPI, she plays a key role in developing and delivering the new charity’s research strategy and driving the research agenda. This includes identifying research priorities, the research grant and PhD programmes, facilitating and overseeing partnerships, promoting patient and public involvement on a wide range of research activities and the dissemination of research outcomes.

She is uniquely placed to support the work of Bowel Research UK having suffered from Inflammatory Bowel Disease for some 30 years before having a permanent colostomy in 2016. Prior to joining the charity Lesley spent more than 20 years at York University where she was Director for Community Relations and Lifelong Learning. She was also the University’s Strategic Projects Lead.

She was voted one of the First Fifty People to make York great in its first fifty years anniversary celebrations, receiving her MBE in 2012.

Lesley is a co-applicant on numerous NIHR grants and pan-European projects. She is a member of the ACPGBI Patients Liaison Group,  Advanced Cancer Coalition, NBOCA patient group and supports PPI interests for numerous institutions including UCL, King’s College London, Oxford, Imperial College Health Partners and Leeds Surgical Medtech. A former school governor she is a Trustee of the ESG Foundation.

Hannah Coates

Research and Patient & Public Integration Assistant

Hannah is our new Research and Patient & Public Integration Assistant, having joined the charity in November 2020. She assists our Director of Research with managing the research programme and connecting researchers with the public. She is also working on the public engagement side of a major project on which Bowel Research UK is a partner, which looks to treat faecal incontinence with a new form of cell therapy. This project is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.

Hannah comes from an arts and community engagement background, and has a Master’s in Applied Theatre: Drama in Educational, Community and Social Contexts. Prior to working for Bowel Research UK, she taught drama in Beijing, China for two years. She continues to take Mandarin evening and weekend classes in order to retain the very little that she picked up! Hannah has worked for a number of charities and organisations throughout the UK, always with a focus on public involvement and engagement.

Ruby Ali

Office Administrator

Ruby manages our busy and bustling office and assists with finance administration and donation processing.

Sarah McDonnell

Events and Community Fundraising Manager

Sarah is the Events and Community Fundraising Manager at Bowel Research UK. She leads an extensive events programme ranging from the Virgin Money London Marathon and London Landmarks Half Marathon to treks, skydives and community based events.  She sources new events and opportunities alongside supporting people to develop their own events and raise vital funds and awareness of bowel disease and bowel cancer.

She also manages Bowel Research UK’s social media and communications. She leads content creation and design for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. She manages a popular monthly email newsletter and bulletin and is involved in the development of awareness campaigns and initiatives.

Sarah is a member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.

Sarah graduated from Loughborough University with a First Class (Honours) degree in Communication and Media Studies. Alongside her studies, she was involved in several voluntary roles that inspired her to work in the charity sector.

Sarah was the Social Media and Marketing Coordinator for Loughborough Students’ Union Rag, organising and promoting student fundraising events which raise over £1million each year for charities. She participated in London bucket collections for Meningitis Research Foundation and the Poppy Appeal. Sarah was also Events Coordinator for Loughborough University Boob Team – volunteering for the charity Coppafeel! to organise fundraising events and increase student breast cancer awareness.

If you are interested in fundraising for Bowel Research UK or would like to learn more about the charity, Sarah would love to hear from you. Get in touch today:

Glen Saffery

Trusts & Impacts Manager

Glen works in the fundraising team and is responsible for coordinating income generation activities including our relationships with Trusts and Foundations.

Neil Boom

Communications and Campaigns Manager (consultant)

With nearly 30 years’ top flight corporate and financial PR agency experience gained at Brunswick, FTI Consulting and Broadgate, Neil founded his own agency – Gresham PR – in 2001.

Neil has advised clients of all sizes and types on their media relations, dealing with almost every kind of situation including senior appointments, new services and product launches, mergers & acquisitions, fundraisings, and dealing with crises and emergencies.

In the charity arena, Neil has helped housing charities Centrepoint and St. Mungo’s with their media relations, and has recently been retained by UK charity Five Talents to support its search for a City partner to sponsor its Chelsea Flower Show garden in 2022.

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