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Our Staff

The Family Holiday Association employs a dedicated team of core staff covering programme, fundraising and administration.

Meet the team

John McDonald - Chief Executive open accordion arrow

John McDonald at Holidays Matter conference

John joined the Family Holiday Association in September 2001 from the Brain & Spine Foundation, where he had been CEO for three years. He had previously worked for Orbis as UK Director for seven years and at Oxfam in Scotland.

John has actively sought to have the Family Holiday Association engage with other like-minded organisations in the UK and in Europe. He is a member of Acevo (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations), the Institute of Fundraising, and the Tourism Society.

Why I love my job: I get to contribute towards helping more and more people getting a much-needed break each year

Most cherished holiday memory: Building sandcastles on a beach with my then 4 year-old daughter

John with daughter EilidhFavourite destination: Honfleur, a little town near Le Havre in northern France

Favourite holiday activity: Spending time with my wife and daughter

Favourite ice cream: Plain old vanilla!

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Read John McDonald's occasional blog.


John Kinnear - Head of Programmes open accordion arrow

John Kinnear at Holidays Matter conferenceWhy I love my job: Helping people to get a break, often for the first time, is pretty great! I also love hearing from families about the difference that their break made

Most cherished holiday memory: Lying in bed at my gran’s on the east coast of Scotland on winter’s mornings, listening to the sound of geese flying overhead – they sounded so mysterious

John KinnearFavourite destination: Rothesay on the Isle of Bute is where I grew up and a traditional Scottish seaside holiday destination. I love going back for the scenery, calmness and history

Favourite holiday activity: Exploring new places and going for walks

Favourite ice cream: 99 with raspberry sauce

James Astley - Grants and Projects Officer open accordion arrow

James leading Seaside Walk Week in Southend-on-SeaWhy I love my job: Working for a cause rather than a profit, and working with other people (inside and outside the charity) who do the same

Most cherished holiday memory: Summers at my grandparents’ house in Cheshire. Trying to dam the stream around the back of the village, failing, and getting very soaked! I loved having lemonade and crisps outside the pub on the canal footpath

James on Cromer beachFavourite destination: Norfolk. Lots of birds, lots of space, huge coastlines without too many people. Or Dorset, for much the same reasons

Favourite holiday activity: Birdwatching, and pub in the evenings

Favourite ice cream: I’ve never been a fan of ice cream. I prefer those iced orange-juice thingies!

Alex Bunney - Partnership Development Manager open accordion arrow

Why I love my job: I know that my day-to-day work is having a positive impact on other people’s lives. I treasure the memories from my own family holidays, and I believe that having time away to relax is something everybody deserves.

Alex BunneyMost cherished holiday memory: On the beach in Cornwall, body-boarding with my brother and burying him head to toe in the sand!

Favourite destination: Cornwall, for the beaches with great waves.

Favourite holiday activity: Beach cricket followed by a cold drink on a sun lounger.

Favourite ice cream: Strawberry cheesecake flavour!

Angie Watson - Head of Fundraising and Communications open accordion arrow

Angie at Seaside Walk Week

Why I love my job: To see the applications come in and be able to make a difference is just wonderful. All the time I hear about the transformation of lives, and that’s just great

Most cherished holiday memory: Going to see my granny in Doncaster. The journey was so exciting, and we would wonder who’d spot the church spire first, as that meant we were nearly there! There was a huge back yard that we would play in with other families… Well, I thought it was huge until I revisited it last year and couldn’t believe how small it was!

Angie with ice creamFavourite destination: St Ives in Cornwall – the colours of the sea and sand in summer are amazing. In the colder months, my family and I have created some rich memories in beautiful Glen Affric, close to Loch Ness

Favourite holiday activity: Rock pooling. It’s free and fun!

Favourite ice cream: Salted caramel

Michael Smout - Head of Marketing open accordion arrow

Michael at Seaside Walk Week in WhitbyWhy I love my job: It is tremendously rewarding. No matter how hard things might seem, feedback from the families we’ve helped is very humbling and never fails to deliver motivation and a sense of perspective

Most cherished holiday memory: Family holidays in Pembrokeshire. Endless days building sand sculptures, and playing cricket and football on beautiful sandy beaches. My memory is that the sun always shone (although I’ve seen some of the pictures and it definitely didn’t!)

Favourite destination: I have two: Cornwall and Pembrokeshire. They both offer some of the best sandy beaches around. Great for kids from ages one to 49 (and counting!)

Michael in the sea at ExmouthFavourite holiday activity: At least one day spent on the beach and I’m happy

Favourite ice cream: I’m not really a big fan of ice cream. An ice-cold can of pop is much more appealing!

Michelle Shepherd - Events Manager open accordion arrow

Michelle ShepherdWhy I love my job: What I love the most is meeting all the inspirational people that support the charity and hearing some of their interesting fundraising ideas. I love working with such a dedicated charity team

Most cherished holiday memory: Going to a Haven holiday park in Norfolk with my family and learning all the words to Rory the Tiger’s kids’ club song – I can still remember some of the words now!

Favourite destination: Swanage in Dorset. My uncle has a place there and, when I was a child, my family and I spent many happy summers there playing on the beach and pottering around the local seaside towns

Michelle and sisterFavourite holiday activity: Settling myself somewhere along the coast with a good book, where I can hear the waves lapping and smell the salty sea air

Favourite ice cream: Has to be the classic 99!

Michelle is currently on maternity leave, but is planning on returning in winter 2017.

Coral Rushmer - Content Executive open accordion arrow

Coral marshalling at the TUI bike ride 2015Why I love my job: Because every day is new – from discovering innovative ways to raise money for the charity to hearing fabulous feedback from the families we help. It really feels like everyone is working together

Most cherished holiday memory: Teaching my younger sister to swim. At first she could only swim underwater and it took a long time to explain to her that you still need to breathe when you’re swimming! It was well worth it as we always played games in the sea after that

Coral in a holeFavourite destination: Bournemouth beach, because we used to go every year when I was growing up and we stayed with my great-grandma who lived there. Every time I go back it reminds me of the fun days we all spent there as a family

Favourite holiday activity: Walking on the beach and going in the sea (if I’m brave enough)

Favourite ice cream: Mint choc chip

Patricia Appleby - Head of Finance open accordion arrow

Pat and Jemma Appleby

Why I love my job: I have been finance manager for many years, and I enjoy working with people from different sectors. It’s great that together we are bringing a smile to families’ faces

Most cherished holiday memory: Walking in the sea with my dad

Favourite destination: South Devon

Favourite holiday activity: Walking on the clifftops by the sea

Favourite ice cream: Has to be rum and raisin!

Paula McCabe - Finance Assistant open accordion arrow

Why I love my job: It’s great knowing that you’re working for an organisation that’s making such a difference to people’s lives

Most cherished holiday memory: In the evenings, sitting round and listening to my dad regaling us with stories from when he was growing up

Favourite destination: Camber Sands near Rye in East Sussex. My family and I often go there for long weekend breaks and the girls love it!

Favourite holiday activity:
Anything that includes my daughters

Favourite ice cream: Lemon ice lolly

Jemma Appleby - Trust Fundraiser open accordion arrow

Pat and Jemma Appleby

Why I love my job: Working with my mum Patricia in the finance department gives me a really good overview of how the money raised, in all sorts of ingenious ways, is spent on great-value family holidays for people who really need a break. Seeing the money coming in reminds me just how generous people can be.

Most cherished holiday memory: I love hearing the sound of seagulls. It instantly takes me back to holidays by the seaside; it really feels like I am there again!

Favourite destination: Salcombe in Devon

Favourite holiday activity: It has to be sailing to the beach. Who wants to walk along the coast when you can jump in a boat?

Favourite ice cream: Rum and raisin. Like mother, like daughter…

Izzy Watson - Partnership Executive open accordion arrow

Why I love my job: Every day is different, and it's great to know that our day-to-day work will make a real difference. It's brilliant to give families the chance to create special memories together, as I know how important my childhood holiday memories are to me.

Izzy WatsonMost cherished holiday memory: Every year, we would visit West Wittering on the South Coast with lots of family friends. We’d spend entire days building sandcastle villages (or attempting to!) and body-boarding in the sea. That memory brings back an overwhelming sense of happiness.

Favourite destination: Studland Bay in Dorset. Beautiful beaches and nearby rolling hills all combined into one!

Favourite holiday activity: Rounders on the beach followed by a barbecue.

Favourite ice cream: Cookie dough. Yum.

Miranda Jude - Grants and Projects Officer open accordion arrow

MirandaWhy I love my job: It’s very touching and rewarding to hear feedback from families about how we’ve helped them to create special holiday memories

Most cherished holiday memory: I didn’t get to go on holidays as a child, but I do remember a wonderful day trip to London Zoo with my dad and seeing crocodiles for the first time

Favourite destination: Bournemouth. A lovely beach and great fish and chips!

Favourite holiday activity: Anywhere with the opportunity to eat local cuisine and hear music

Favourite ice cream: Salted caramel flavour