Maria Parsons

Maria is the Chief Executive of Creative Dementia Arts Network. Her professional background is social work and management and it was whilst heading up the Social Work degree course at Oxford Brookes University that Maria began work on setting up the university’s Oxford Dementia Services Development Centre becoming its Director in 2002. Maria went on to manage the London Centre of Dementia Care at UCL and work with major care providers, the NHS and local councils on improving the quality of dementia care services and on strategy and policy.

In 2009 Maria evaluated the impact of drama, song and dance on a group of care home residents and staff who, for several weeks, joined the cast of a small theatre group performing a soap opera in the home. Maria, who has a love of arts, was delighted to find that this participation had positive outcomes for residents (and staff). She began to champion arts for people with dementia and, with Elizabeth Mills, was instrumental in establishing CDAN, which continues to be her passion.

Maria is a member of the editorial group of the Journal of Dementia Care, British Society of Gerontology and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. Her last published work was Arts, Dementia and Life Story Work- Every Picture Tells a Story in Kaiser, P & Eley, R, (eds.) (2016) Life Story Work With People With Dementia, Jessica Kingsley Publications.

Mrs Marion Fiddes

Marion as worked in a local authority or the health service for the past fifty years, either as an accountant or as a project manager dealing with capital investment, site planning and managing project teams in developing new buildings at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. Since retirement she has set up her own finance consultancy and worked with the redevelopment team rebuilding Broadmoor Hospital and a Medium Secure Unit in Ealing. Marion is a trustee of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Baptist Building Fund and is a keen member of New Road Baptist Church in Oxford. She very much appreciates the therapeutic help that the arts contribute in caring for patients with ill-heath and also their families.

Mr Dan Knowles

Dan is the Chief Executive Officer for Oxfordshire Mind, the mental health charity. He has been a Trustee for CDAN for 3 years, and is a passionate advocate of the use of the Arts in all fields of mental health. Past roles have included setting up a social enterprise domiciliary care company, and being a Director at John Lewis.

Mrs Alexandra Coulter

Alexandra Coulter has been Director of Arts & Health South West since 2010 She studied History of Art and Fine Art and has an MSc in Organisational Development. She has been working in arts and health since 1998 and was the Arts Coordinator at Dorset County Hospital for 15 years. Arts & Health South West is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation and is a regional networking, advocacy and support organisation with approximately 2000 members. Alex represents the South West region in the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing (NAAHW). On behalf of the NAAHW she provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. The APPG is conducting a 2 year Inquiry into Arts, Health and Wellbeing and the report will be launched in parliament next spring. In 2013 AHSW delivered the Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference in Bristol which was attended by delegates from 22 countries. The next Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference is on 19th, 20th and 21st June 2017

Ms Emma Bowler

Emma is a fundraiser at the University of Oxford. She has six years' experience in marketing, events management, prospect research and supporter relations in the charity sector gathered both at the University and one of its Colleges, and as a volunteer for the National Trust and YouthNet. Emma is an artist and musician. She was a fine art scholar at her school and to this day continues to sketch and play music. She has a degree in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Oxford.

Professor Marcus Richards

Marcus is a Programme Leader at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, and a Professor of Psychology in Epidemiology at the Faculty of Population Health Sciences, University College London. Marcus read Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, and obtained a PhD at London University in the physiology of human learning.  He has held appointments at Columbia University in New York and King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry to conduct research into neurodegenerative diseases of ageing, and was one of the first recipients of an Alzheimer's Society Research Fellowship.  He joined the MRC National Survey of Health and Development team in 1996, where his work is primarily focused on developing a life course approach to mental ageing and its integration with physical health and function.
‘I support CDAN because of a career spanning decades as a scientist conducting research into the causes of dementia, with a focus on modifiable risk factors (e.g. education, lifestyle and health) for intervention.  From this perspective I am equally invested in how to maintain quality of life in people with dementia and in their carers, where CDAN are leaders.  Last but hopefully not least, I am a keen amateur artist myself, with a particular interest in drawing and painting (one of which is behind my head in the photograph).’

Dr Elizabeth Mills

Elizabeth Mills runs public affairs consultancy, Éminence Grise, which provides strategic development, research and fundraising support, and event and conference management for a range of voluntary sector organisations. Clients have included The Campaign to End Loneliness, Age UK Oxfordshire, Norwood, DISCS Foundation, Friends of the Elderly, BUPA Care Services, the UK Age Research Forum. She is on the advisory board for Apetito, the company providing wholesome meals for older people in receipt of domiciliary or residential care.

She was Director, Research into Ageing (the UK national medical research charity) from 1990 until 2001 when she led the charity into full merger with Help the Aged (now Age UK). In 2000, she was awarded the British Society for Research on Ageing “Lord Cohen of Birkenhead Medal for Services to Gerontology” and in 2002 she was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours for services to ageing research. In 2013 she received the award of Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Brighton and in 2016 a similar Honorary Doctorate from the University of Aston.

Her voluntary activities, apart from chairing the board of Creative Dementia Arts Network, include acting as an Ambassador for Auditory Verbal UK. She is also Honorary Director of Homeshare International, promoting the exchange of accommodation for companionship around the world and is actively involved with the Catholic church of St Aloysius, the Oxford Oratory, where she serves as Parish Registrar.