Sarah Woolnough

Sarah Woolnough has been appointed as the new chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation.

Woolnough, who has been leading policy and information at Cancer Research UK for 15 years, has also worked on secondment at the Department of Health and Social Care, where she co-wrote the national cancer strategy.

She has sat on charity boards at the Association of Medical Research Charities, Action on Smoking and Health, and Bliss and holds trustee roles at MQ: Transforming Mental Health and the National Cancer Research Institute.

Woolnough will start her new role in December, taking over from Kay Boycott, who oversaw a £17m merger between Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation at the end of last year although they maintain separate brand identities.

“Respiratory health is a cause I care deeply about, and it’s been inspiring to see the extraordinary lengths that they’ve gone to in supporting people with lung conditions over many years, and most recently during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Woolnough commented.

“It will be a real privilege to join the charity at such a crucial time, and I look forward to being part of a team committed to making real change for the 12 million people in the UK affected by lung disease,” she added.

Boycott will move on to a “long-planned portfolio career,” according to a statement from the charity.

She said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to have served people with lung disease as the first Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, and to have led Asthma UK before that.

“I’m extremely proud of what we’ve managed to achieve together, including proving the value of the merger. Leaving such a dedicated and committed team will be a big wrench, but I’m thrilled to be handing over to a leader of Sarah’s calibre.”

Baroness Tessa Blackstone, the chair of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: “I am delighted to welcome Sarah to the charity and greatly look forward to working with her. With respiratory disease never higher on the national agenda, she joins us at an opportune time to deliver even more for people with lung conditions.”

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