Meet the people behind Creative Skills For Life, and the senior executives, practitioners and thought leaders who have kindly agreed to advise and support CSL initiatives.
Ian is an authority in brand development through experiential and partnership marketing.

For two decades Ian ran Spero Communications, creating new concepts in consumer engagement on behalf of the likes of American Airlines, BT, L’Oreal, News International and Toshiba, and developing proprietary digital platforms, such as ‘AA Vodafone Roadwatch’, which facilitated the provision of real-time traffic news through commercial radio and mobile networks, and BigTime 4PLAY®, a unique music preview system, enabling publishers to leverage previously unreleased content from major artists like Oasis, the Killers and Brian Wilson to drive sales and promote loyalty.

Ian’s story took on a new dimension when he was asked to support the construction of a new cancer care centre in London. Ian’s RockCouture® concept resulted in a host of great names from the creative industries transforming electric guitars into remarkable works of art. Following critically acclaimed exhibitions in Dublin, Paris, and London the RockCouture guitars were auctioned to support Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres and other important charitable causes.

Backed by a $4.5 million launch campaign involving the likes of Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Taylor Swift, the non-profit project was extended to the United States in 2011, employing the campaign title ‘PLAY FOR LIFE’, raising funds and awareness to enable City of Hope, an independent biomedical cancer centre, to provide music education therapy for young patients undergoing treatment.

Working with a passionate team dedicated to a common cause, Ian is now consolidating this experience to establish Creative Skills For Life as a sustainable and scalable commercial proposition with an important social agenda.

Chris is an editor, journalist and media entrepreneur.

He is co-Founder, MD and Business Editor of CMU, a service provider to the music industry. Best known for its media – the CMU Daily, CMU Podcast, CMU Digest and CMU Trends – the CMU business also provides training and consultancy to music companies, hosts the UK’s biggest music business conference at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, and runs the CMU:DIY education programme for new talent. Chris writes for CMU’s media, co-hosts the podcast, curates and presents CMU@TGE, and leads the company’s training and consultancy projects.

CMU is part of Chris’s company 3CM UnLimited, which also has media, consultancy and education divisions. Through UnLimited Media he also publishes cultural recommendations service ThisWeek London and its sister magazine ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and produces and hosts the regular TW:TALKS podcast. And via UnLimited Learning he helps to run the award winning PR training charity the Taylor Bennett Foundation, which is enabling more ethnic diversity in the communications industry.

With degrees in English and Law, Chris regularly writes about, discusses and comments on media and media law, music and comedy, and the music and communication industries. He authored the report ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ for the UK’s Music Managers Forum, has written business courses for the Detroit Institute Of Music Education, and occasionally performs spoken word show ‘Chris Cooke’s Free Speech’.

Having previously collaborated with Ian Spero on the BigTime and Play For Life projects, Chris now advises on the educational and digital sides of the Creative Skills For Life initiative.

Originally trained in HR and communication at La Sorbonne-CELSA in Paris, Anne-Marie has extensive knowledge of the marketing and communication industries in Europe.

Following two years as Director for Bata Communication France, Anne-Marie was invited to join the start-up team at Disneyland Paris where she coordinated marketing, promotions and special events. After five successful years with Disney, she joined Spero Communications and headed up the company’s Paris office, where she directed a series of marketing partnerships for the likes of Warner Music, Kraft Foods, Accor Hotels, Galeries Lafayette, Harrods, Toshiba and L’Oreal.

Anne-Marie project managed the RockCouture® customised guitar programme in Paris, Dublin and London, overseeing the selection and engagement of participating artists. She also managed the project’s retail, brand and creative partnerships, and coordinated on and offline communications.

Anne-Marie has since participated in other projects led by Spero Social Ventures – including the United World Schools/Creative Skills For Life project in Cambodia – and has played a leading role in the development of the wider Creative Skills For Life initiative. She is specifically responsible for communications and partner liaison.


ALEX ABBOTT is Chief Technology Officer, Patient & Information Directorate for the NHS Commissioning Board. He joined the Commissioning Board as Chief Technology Officer from The Department of Health Informatics Directorate in 2012.

Alex previously led the Technical Architecture Directorate, overseeing the technical delivery of major programmes including NHS Spine, Electronic Prescribing, Choose and Book and Picture Archiving and Communication System amongst others.

Previously Alex had led large scale NHS systems integration programmes. Prior to joining the NHS, Alex worked for blue chip companies in the telecommunication, aerospace and nuclear industries. Alex has a background in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and in Systems and Software Engineering. He is a passionate advocate for clinically led open standards in the NHS supporting more general system interoperability and enabling patient record integration.

STEPHEN APPLETON is currently Clinical Informatics Lead at Informatics Merseyside. With over 15 years’ experience working within Health Care, Stephen has worked in a number of clinical roles spanning a variety of Health and Social Care settings, before specialising in Mental Health and Learning Disability Nursing in 2000.

Having studied Health Informatics in 2005, Stephen became an advocate of the role of IM&T plays in clinical transformation. Stephen now works for Informatics Merseyside providing strategic leadership on the Informatics element of the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) agenda, combining both disciplines.

As Clinical Informatics Lead Stephen is tasked to ensure that the IM&T workstream is fully engaged with the clinical community across the Merseyside Health Economy, along with leading ICT Innovation and supporting the technology element of clinical transformation.

DR TOM BARBER is Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Endocrinologist at the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW)

He has published in excess of 20 first-author papers in peer-reviewed journals. In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious Society for Endocrinology Clinical Prize Lecture, which he delivered at the British Endocrine Societies Annual Conference that year. He was also awarded the University of Oxford Medical Sciences Divisional Research Prize in 2009.

As scientific lead for the Human Metabolism Research Unit, his current research interests include the endocrine determinants of human metabolism, brown adipose tissue and the links between human metabolism and sleep. He currently leads the Obesity service at UHCW. Dr. Barber qualified as a doctor in 1998 from Newcastle University having gained a degree in Medical Sciences from Cambridge University in 1995.

VICTORIA BETTON is deputy director of strategy and partnerships at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and is leading development of digital and social media within her organisation. She has Masters degrees in Women’s Studies and Social Work, and is currently undertaking a PhD at the Institute of Communications in the University of Leeds on the topic of mental health and social media.

She is a blogger at and has recently co-authored Social Media in Mental Health Practice – Online Networks for Recovery and Living Well.
She also lectures, delivers training and speaks at conferences on the topic of social media in health.

Victoria also directs an annual month long Love Arts festival which explores the relationship between arts, mental health and wellbeing in the city of Leeds and co-ordinates campaigns to reduce mental health and learning disability stigma and discrimination.

DR KEVIN CURRAN is a Reader in Computer Science at the University of Ulster and group leader for the Ambient Intelligence Research Group. His achievements include winning and managing UK & European Framework projects and Technology Transfer Schemes. Dr Curran has made significant contributions to advancing the knowledge and understanding of computer networking and systems, evidenced by over 600 published works. His expertise has been acknowledged by invitations to present his work at international conferences, overseas universities and research laboratories.

He is a regular contributor to BBC radio & TV news in the UK and is currently the recipient of an Engineering and Technology Board Visiting Lectureship for Exceptional Engineers and is an IEEE Technical Expert for Internet/Security matters. He is listed in the Dictionary of International Biography; Marquis Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and by Who’s Who in the World. Dr Curran was awarded the Certificate of Excellence for Research in 2004 by Science Publications and was named Irish Digital Media Newcomer of the Year Award in 2006. Dr Curran has performed external panel duties for various Higher Education Institutions and public bodies such as OFCOM and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

ANTONIO ESPINGARDEIRO has a Bachelor in Industrial Informatics Engineering from Setúbal Polytechnic Institute, (Portugal) and a MSc. in Robotics and Automation with Distinction at the National Advanced Robotics Research Centre from University of Salford (UK). Since 2009 he has been working on a Doctoral study which proposes new Human Robotics Interaction Benchmarks for the use of Socially Assistive Robots with vulnerable groups such as the elderly.

In 2010 Antonio founded his own personal “Assistive Robotics Lab” where he conducts independent research in the fields of Social Assistive Robotics, Automation and Rehabilitation devices. His research aims to develop practical and affordable solutions of Robotics but also addresses problems such as the ethics associated with Assistive Robots and management policies for implementing Robots into future societies. To date Antonio is the inventor of P37 Elderly care bot, one of the first socially assistive robots for elderly care in the world; D49 a baby cradle system for kids up to two months old and D45 a mobile robotic platform for research purposes.

In 2011 Antonio created a set of charity events entitled “Robots on the Road” for entertaining elderly and disabled people within extra care facilities around the UK. His shows usually involve the use of programmed Humanoid Robots, Baby Robotic Seals, Robotic Cats and Virtual Environments technologies that promote physical and psychological exercises. He writes monthly about Robotics applications and records video casts at He’s the author of more than 40 interviews worldwide over the last 3 years on the areas of Robotics and Automation, Education and Engineering.

In the future Antonio wants to work as a Robotics and Automation Engineer and to become even more engaged in the development of Robotics applications for the welfare of humankind.

DR MARK GAZE is Chairman of the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group and Consultant at Great Ormond Street and University College Hospitals.

He is also the lead for radiotherapy in clinical trials run by the European Paediatric Soft Tissue Sarcoma Group (EpSSG), and for the International Society of Paediatric Oncology Europe Neuroblastoma Group (SIOPEN). He is committed to improving standards of care, and has contributed to national guidance on good practice in Paediatric Radiotherapy and Molecular Radiotherapy. He is the author of many scientific papers, and books and book chapters in the field of cancer. Dr Gaze’s particular areas of expertise include the management of cancer in children and young people with radiotherapy, and the use of molecular radiotherapy in adults and children.

Dr Gaze qualified from Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital and undertook specialist cancer training in Edinburgh and Glasgow. His MD research was on the targeted radiotherapy of neuroblastoma, a subject in which he maintains a strong clinical interest. He has a major interest in postgraduate medical education, and was formerly a member of the Specialist Training Board of the Faculty of Clinical Oncology, Royal College of Radiologists, and Chairman of the Specialty Training Committee in Clinical Oncology London, Kent Surrey and Sussex and Eastern (Essex and Hertfordshire) Deaneries. He contributes extensively to teaching and training and courses for continuing professional development. He was Co-Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 44th International Society of Paediatric Oncology Congress held in London in October 2012.

Dr Gaze is a member of the National Cancer Research Institute’s Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Clinical Studies Group. His personal research is in the field of paediatric radiotherapy and molecular radiotherapy, especially for neuroblastoma and soft tissue sarcomas.

CHRISTOPHER J JAMES is Professor or Healthcare Technology and Director of the Institute of Digital Healthcare, University or Warwick.

He is a biomedical engineer and his research activity centres on the development of biomedical signal and pattern processing techniques, as well as the use of technological innovations for advancing healthcare and promoting wellbeing.

He is immediate past-chairman of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) UK & Republic of Ireland (UKRI) Section and Chair of the IEEE UKRI Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society (EMBS) Chapter.

He is on the council of the European Alliance of Medical and Biological Engineering Societies (EAMBES). He is past Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Healthcare Technology Network, is on the IET TPN Steering Committee and has advised IET on Healthcare Technology matters for the Faraday Lectures, and has presented for IET at outreach activities.

IAN JOHNSON is Director at Six Degrees, and is currently working on the #SMWF event which considers the key issues brands and marketers face in running social media marketing campaigns and location-based marketing, as well as social search, social shopping, social CRM, social TV, mobile social media, B2B social media and virtual currencies. He is also involved in the Apps World event, building a series of events for developers, operators, mobile technology, TV, and app stores to connect and explore multi-platform app development projects.

Ian was previously a freelance journalist, writing for over 30 different publications, before migrating journalistic skills to the conference space, and working on over 100 new conference programmes. He also worked extensively in the interactive TV market at both Virgin Media and Two Way TV, and built the IPTV World Forum event series from inception.

DR VICTORIA LIDSTONE is All Wales Clinical Lead for Transition in Palliative Care and a Consultant in (adult) Palliative Medicine

Victoria trained in Southampton, London and South Wales before taking up post as a Consultant in adult Palliative Medicine in 2006. Victoria trained at a time when there was no paediatric palliative care training, but when the adult training included several paediatric options which she took, working with teams that crossed over between adult and paediatric care at the Royal Marsden Hospital Sutton, Tadworth court and the Princess Alice Hospice Esher. She was closely involved with the needs assessment and the eventual founding of what is now Demelza House at Eltham, and has written Symptom control guidelines now adopted by many networks across the UK and several chapters relating to Palliative medicine for young people.

This new post-Clinical lead for Transition was created in 2010 following a national review of adult & paediatric palliative care services in Wales, and although part-time, allows a useful strategic overview nationally. Victoria works closely with the Paediatric palliative care team and the local TCT, as well as many adult specialities and service providers. Victoria is passionate about her job and continues clinical work alongside research and strategic planning which she hopes will significantly improve services for young adults with palliative care needs. Victoria’s interests include Advance care planning with expanded choices; investigating the Training of adult Palliative Care professionals regarding young adults; sustainable employment for young adults with palliative care needs; and increasing the choices for leisure activities and living well through a group of projects she is working on called "Route 66".

ALASTAIR MOORE is a research scientist and entrepreneur with an interest in vision, mobile and innovation. Alastair supports start-up activity and SME engagement across University College London with a particular focus on mobile and digital enterprise.

Alastair is project lead on UCL DECIDE, (Digital Enterprise: Collaborative Innovation, Development and Evaluation) a programme to help SME’s achieve pre-commercial validation of new products and services, and founder of The Mobile Academy – offering programmes for people who want to build successful mobile products. It is hosted by UCL Advances & Mobile Monday London. Sponsors include Capital Enterprise.

Alastair is currently a board member of several companies including Ephemeral Labs Ltd. and UCL spinout Satalia Inc. He also sits on the Special Group for Entrepreneurship for the British Computer Society and mentors for the Wayra Academy and Springboard Mobile.

ELIZABETH MURRAY is Director and founder of the e-Health Unit, UCL Medical School (Royal Free Hospital). She established the unit in 2003 to explore the use of new information and communication technologies, such as the Internet or mobile phones, to improve health and health care. It is now one of the foremost e-Health units internationally, with a strong multi-disciplinary focus and expertise across a wide range of research methods.

Elizabeth Murray is an academic General Practitioner and Reader in Primary Care. She joined UCL in 1991 first as a lecturer, and from 1996 as a senior lecturer, with the remit of developing and evaluating an innovative course teaching general internal medicine to first year clinical students. This was one of the first of such courses, and her work determining the feasibility, acceptability and effects of such teaching laid the empirical foundation for the adoption of community-based teaching of a wide range of subjects including general internal medicine, paediatrics, women’s health, psychiatry and care of the older person in large numbers of medical schools across the UK.

In 2001 she was awarded a Harkness Fellowship in Health Care Policy from the Commonwealth Fund. This enabled her to spend a year (2001 – 02) at the University of California San Francisco where she undertook research on the effects of the internet on the doctor-patient relationship. She returned to UCL in 2002 to take up a Department of Health Career Scientist Award (2002 – 07). She established the e-Health Unit in 2003 and became a Reader in 2007. Her research focuses on the use of the internet and other new technologies to improve health and health care.

DR RICHARD POPE is by background a Consultant Physician, specialising in Diabetes and Endocrinology. He qualified in Cardiff and obtained his MD there, working as an MRC Training Fellow in the field of thyroid autoimmunity. For 18 years he worked as a consultant at the multi award-winning Airedale hospital in Yorkshire, becoming first that Trust’s Medical Director and later its Director of Innovation and Research. In this role he led a successful programme of work across a range of clinical areas, to develop technical and clinical approaches to the delivery of care using teleconsultation.

Dr Pope now acts as a strategic advisor to Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. In 2012 he began working with Dynamic Health Systems to develop and bring to market a new approach to the management of long term conditions and in so doing works closely with some of the World’s largest technology firms. He has an unique view of the opportunities and challenges facing companies as they surface and develop ideas for innovation in the health and social care sector within the UK.

LUKE RASKINO is founder of iBehave,which enables the achievement of game changing health outcomes by showcasing, encouraging and accelerating technical innovations where game mechanics related techniques can be used to drive behaviour change across consumer, clinician and patient behaviour.

Luke believes behaviour change across people, patients and clinicians is critical to achieving a healthier world. He is an insight and innovation strategist who has years of experience leading innovation programmes for both, multinationals e.g. Unilever, JnJ and L’Oreal. Luke currently spends his time as a Strategic planner for BIG, a strategic innovation agency, as well as mentoring and advising a number of start-ups in the health space.

EMMA SINDEN is the head of the digital health division at Ruder Finn London. Ruder Finn was the first communications firm to launch a division focused on the emerging digital health industry, providing public relations and marketing consultancy to technology, telecoms and pharmaceutical involved in this sector.

Emma has fifteen years’ experience creating and delivering communications campaigns for a range of companies involved in healthcare delivery technology including Oracle, Infosys, Orange, Cerner and iSOFT. She is the co-author of Ruder Finn’s mHealth report and has chaired a number of industry events in the UK.

ALASDAIR G THIN PhD is a Lecturer in Human Physiology in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK. He has a BSc in Physiology and Sports Science, Postgraduate Certificates in Information Technology and Academic Practice and a Doctorate in Clinical Exercise Physiology.

He first got interested in exergaming at the beginning of 2004 after a chance encounter with some of the early EyeToy Play games for the Sony Playstation 2 that left him somewhat breathless! He has always been interested in using technology to find new ways of doing things. Combining this interest with academic training in exercise physiology, some time spent working in health promotion and a range of sporting and outdoor activities experiences, both as a participant and as an instructor/coach, makes game-based approaches to digital health a highly exciting and engaging field to work in.

His research interests include all aspects of the phenomenon of body movement-controlled video games and how they can be used as a gateway to starting and maintaining a physically active lifestyle, game-based learning approaches to health education, and wider digital health issues.

ANN WAGNER is currently Executive Director of Strategy and Business Development at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust with responsibility for R&D and for developing the Trust’s future strategy including care closer to home.

A key element of the role includes growth and diversification including developing the Trust’s innovative telemedicine service offer, which having started in the prison market sector, has now successfully been brought to a range of other markets including supporting patients with long term conditions in nursing and residential care homes, patients own homes, GP practices and hospices for people approaching end of life. Ann joined the Trust in 2006 originally as Director of Corporate Development taking on responsibility for securing Foundation Trust status – this was achieved in 2010. Since then she has taken the lead for strategy and business development.

Prior to joining Airedale, Ann held a number of senior strategic roles including Executive Director of Service Improvement at West Yorkshire SHA, National Programme Director for the Department of Health Integrated Service Improvement Programme, Programme Director for the West Yorkshire Choice Pilot and Director of Performance Management at Bradford Health Authority. Prior to joining the NHS, Ann worked in the private sector as a PR consultant for a range of business to business accounts and before that worked in Local Authorities in Yorkshire and the North of England in a number of marketing related posts.

RITCHIE WILLIAMSON is founder of In his teens Ritchie suffered from mental health issues and the only time he felt he could truly express himself was by playing video games. This experience opened his mind to new possibilities which inspired him to establish his own business in 2012 and in so doing showcase his own abilities and strengths.

Richie believes that gaming is more than a way of wasting away a few hours and is excited by how game-based learning can be used as a platform to facilitate new approaches to health issues.

He says: “Gaming has helped me to see the world in a different more creative way. It has helped me to become a great problem solver. I understand how mental health issues can affect people lives, but I also know how to overcome these obstacles. I really do believe that anything is possible when you’re in the right frame of mind. I hope can be an example of that ‘Can do Attitude’ and inspire other young people to follow their dreams".