Speakers List - COVER Mental Health Forum 2019

Keynote Speakers

Jonny Benjamin MBE

Mental Health


Jonny Benjamin MBE is an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker, writer and vlogger.

At the age of 20 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar, and later began making films on YouTube about the condition that have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people.

Jonny now speaks publicly about living with mental illness and has written articles and given various interviews on TV, Radio and in print around the world to help educate and break stigma. He has also produced and presented documentaries on BBC Three and Channel 4 on the subjects of mental health and suicide.

His 2014 social media campaign with Rethink Mental Illness to find Neil Laybourn, the man who talked him out of jumping off a bridge when he was suicidal, went viral and led to Jonny becoming a prominent spokesperson on the subject of suicide together with Neil. In 2016 Jonny launched ThinkWell, a mental health programme for schools, which has so far been into secondary schools across the UK with huge success. 

Jonny spent 2017 writing the first of 2 books on mental health that was published in May 2018. His second book, currently titled The Book Of Hope, will be a collection of quotes, poems and stories by himself and others to inspire recovery and hope. It will be published in 2020.

In 2019 Jonny will launch new mental health charity, Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma, together with Neil. Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma is a grant-giving organisation which aims to provide mental health support to young people, their families and educators.

Neil Laybourn

Mental Health


Neil Laybourn, founder of This Can Happen, never imagined that a chance meeting on Waterloo Bridge in London would change the course of his life.

Ten years ago Neil walked past Jonny Benjamin, sitting by the bridge, contemplating taking his own life. He stopped to talk to him and persuaded him to take a step back. The pair went their separate ways and 6 years later, a after a high profile social media search, dubbed the #FindMike campaign, which became a global news campaign that reached over 300 million people around the world, Jonny found the stranger who saved his life.

The pair has spent the last 4 years helping organisations from schools and universities to large corporates and everybody in-between in the UK and across the world eradicate the stigma of mental health and offer real support to workers facing challenges. Born in Watford, Hertfordshire, Neil's career began in the fitness industry. After meeting Jonny he became an ambassador for the national mental health charities Rethink Mental Illness and Mental Health UK, helping them address mental health and suicide prevention awareness.

In 2014 Neil was recognised with a Pride of Britain award for his part in the #FindMike campaign and the following year Channel 4 told their amazing story in the award-winning Stranger on the Bridge documentary. By now Neil was aware of his calling. He knew that he wanted to spread the word about mental health and suicide awareness and became a public speaker to private and public organisations.

In 2017 he qualified as a mental health first aid instructor with MHFA England and in the same year, he came up with the idea for This Can Happen - an innovative mental health conference tackling challenges in the workplace and bringing solutions and practical ideas to employers and leadership teams to help them look after their staff and colleagues in real-life, meaningful ways. In the same year Neil co-founded the international mental health campaigning organisation You Alright Mate to bring business leaders, fellow campaigners and international support organisations together with a purpose to enhance the pair's already accomplished campaigning in the UK and make a difference globally.

Most recently Neil co-founded the charity Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma to raise funds for preventative mental health and young people's mental health solutions and in July he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Bristol University for work in mental health campaigning and advocacy work, alongside Jonny.

Lord Dennis Stevenson


Thriving at Work

Dennis has spent 50% of his life (post Cambridge where he was at King's) as a serial entrepreneur investing in start-ups (well over 50 so far, only one went bust in the dot com boom losing only his money, about 10 have been very successful, the rest middling). He has also chaired large companies (Pearson plc, GPA plc and HBOS plc).

He has spent the other 50% of his life either doing things for Government or in the not for profit area. He was Chairman of the Trustees of the Tate Gallery in the 90s for 10 years during which time Tate Modern was built. Was for 15 years Chairman of Aldeburgh Music Ltd, the major centre of contemporary classical music. He was Tony Blair's Special Adviser on the application of ICT in education and produced a report on the subject which was implemented in its entirety. And was the first Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

Some 7 years ago he set up MQ: Transforming Mental Health, the world's leading mental health research foundation and Inter Mediate, a body concerned with conflict resolution (a key player in the peace negotiations in Columbia and a number of the other key trouble spots in the world). More recently, and together with Paul Farmer, the CEO of Mind, he produced a report at the behest of the current Prime Minister of the UK "Thriving at Work" on how to improve mental health at work.

He sits on the cross-benches in the House of Lords.


Luke Ashworth



Since the age of 23 I have built two multi-million companies from scratch. I've been lucky enough to work in almost every part of the protection industry; I founded one of the UK's fastest growing life insurance lead generators, built one of the UK's largest life insurance brokers, designed products with Reinsurers and turned around the performance of one of the most prominent medical screening businesses.

As well as phenomenal highs, I've also been through character-crushing failure. In 2011 the sudden and unexpected death of my 11 year old son led to a domino effect of epic proportions; I subsequently lost everything else in my life both personally and professionally. As a consequence I fell into some major mental health issues; anxiety and depression took hold in a huge way.

It has taken one hell of a battle to regain my mental health, but I am through the other side of that terrible journey. I am now passionate about promoting the understanding and acceptance of mental health, especially for those who have not been so lucky and are still stuck in such an isolated, desolate place. I run a series of mental monthly health groups as well as helping people privately on a one-to-one basis.


Huw Edwards

Public Affairs & Research Director


Huw is the Public Affairs director at ukactive and is responsible for leading ukactive's engagement with Government and wider stakeholders.

In 2017, Huw was appointed as a Leisure Sector champion for the Department of Work & Pensions disability taskforce, aiming to ensure that the work of the sector in the disability space is aligned to DWP objectives.

Prior to joining ukactive, Huw worked as the Public Affairs lead at British Tennis working across both the Lawn Tennis Association and The Tennis Foundation. Before then he worked for both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Olympic Delivery Authority during the delivery of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. His Government role saw him head a team that developed and delivered the Government Ministerial engagement programmes across both the Olympic and Paralympics. His 5 years at the ODA focused on managing the relationship with both government and business stakeholders as part of the construction of the Olympic Park. He also worked for the GLA and was Senior Advisor to the Mayor's Economic Director, supporting the GLA's engagement with the London business community.

Suzy Esson

Head of Operations

Holloway Friendly

Suzy Esson is Head of Operations at Holloway Friendly and has over 27 years of experience in the Financial Services industry, mostly in the Claims and Underwriting arena. Suzy has successfully inspired a number of providers to develop a pro-active approach to protection claims using her extensive experience and her passion to ensure best practice claim management is given. Her continuous desire to drive operational excellence has enabled Suzy to build high performance teams that achieve significant results. Suzy has created a market leading claims management process at Holloway Friendly that has reduced the claim decision time from weeks to hours with 98% of claims being paid in 2018. By combining her Underwriting and Claims experience, Suzy's mission is to create a culture whereby Holloway can differentiate their philosophies to be the most inclusive and develop strategies that support's the Holloway brand of ‘Keeping Life Colourful' for their members.

Suzy's passion in life are her family, her dog and her ever growing shoe collection!

Eugene Farrell

Mental Health Lead


Eugene is qualified in radiotherapy, health economics and psychology and he has more than 30 years of experience in the UK healthcare arena. He is a member of the British Psychological Society and has worked in a variety of roles in both the NHS and private sectors and, for the past 20 years, specialising in the development and provision of mental health, counselling and wellbeing support services in the corporate environment. This includes the development of integrated healthcare, psychological treatment pathways, absence management, workplace counselling, employee assistance programmes (EAPs), crisis and trauma support, wellbeing and occupational health services. He has also worked with mental health providers, charities and government advising on the management of mental health in the workplace, as well as the management and delivery of organisational crisis support. Eugene has a keen interest in the use of technology in mental health and its future development, and has talked on this subject and worked with tech start-ups.

Eugene has authored articles and research on mental health, stress, workplace death, absence, sickness presence, financial wellbeing, health wellbeing and EAP effectiveness, has presented at professional conferences in the UK and Europe, on the BBC and on radio, and is the current Vice-Chair and former Chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, former Board member and International Director of the US based Global Employee Assistance Professionals Association, and former Executive Director of Employee Assistance European Federation. Eugene was awarded Emeritus status of UK EAPA in 2016 in recognition of his contribution to EAP development in the UK.

Lawrence Finkle

Public Affairs Executive

Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)

Lawrence Finkle is public affairs lead at the Chartered Insurance Institute, the world's largest professional body for the insurance and personal finance sectors. The CII's purpose, as set out in its 1912 royal charter, is to 'secure and justify the confidence of the public' in its membership. Lawrence is responsible for the CII's programmes of engagement with Westminster, Whitehall and financial services regulatory bodies on key consumer interest issues, including access to insurance for vulnerable groups and the drive to ensure the insurance profession better reflects and meets the needs of society in its diversity.

He has a background in policy and communications in both local government and research consultancy settings, and is a graduate in History and Politics from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Mark Hashimi

Head of Workplace Wellbeing

Mind - Hammersmith & Fulham

Mark, having previously held a number of senior management positions over the last ten years, has significant experience when dealing with mental health and work related issues, as head of workplace wellbeing at HF Mind, senior revenue manager at EDF Energy, as a counsellor, trainer, public speaker, mental health first aid instructor and from his own personal experiences.

Mark works closely with AIG Insurance, Hiscox, Allianz, Bloomberg, WPP Group, Ogilvy, UKTV, BBC Worldwide, Cabinet Office, Met Police, NHS to name a few. Mark facilitates mental health sessions with a strong focus on proactive intervention and long-term sustainability, challenging stigma and effective communication.

Mark takes an "end-to-end" approach to wellbeing strategy implementation when working with clients; he is experienced in reviewing, enhancing and writing mental health policy and embedding welling strategy in line with best practice.

Alongside corporate training and consultancy, Mark works as a psychotherapist and counsellor specialising in workplace issues and trauma. Mark also designed and delivered the "Trauma and Bereavement" training for those impacted by the Grenfell tragedy, the Met police "Managing mental health at work" training, Mind's core workplace wellbeing training programme.

Adam Higgs

Head of Research

Protection Guru

Adam is Head of Research at the Finance & Technology Research Centre. He currently leads F&TRCs protection research and benchmarking which aims to help advisers better understand and compare the quality of protection products via their Quality Analyser software. Adam authors a weekly protection insight which delves into the nuances of protection product features and the differences in insurer offerings and is a regular industry spokesperson and commentator.

Christine Husbands

Managing Director


Christine is the Managing Director of RedArc, a specialist company providing long-term help and support to employees, individuals and families suffering from serious illness, disability or bereavement, through its team of highly qualified, registered nurses.

She spent the initial part of her career in financial roles within the chemical industry before moving into financial services. Since then, Christine has held several directorships she is a Chartered Director and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Christine first came across RedArc when she was involved in the acquisition of the business and she "fell in love" with it, she was delighted to pick up the reins in 2010.

Speaking of RedArc, Christine has said she is "proud to be helping so many people at often the most difficult times of their lives, whilst at the same time adding value to a wide range of clients within financial services and other markets"

Simon Jay

Commercial Director


Simon is the Commercial Director at Thrive Therapeutic Software, an NHS approved prevention, early detection, and self-management app for common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Simon experienced severe depression at university and knew from then he wanted to do something to help others with prevention/early detection for others. As the first employee in the team joining Dr Andres Fonseca and Dr Adam Huxley in 2015, he saw the opportunity for scaling up and doing more, quicker, to help people in the mental health space than anything he had seen previously.

The Thrive app is integrated to corporate settings for all employees to use as a 'one stop shop' to access wellbeing services, with hours of in-app CBT, mindfulness, and distraction therapy content. The app also signposts the user to the internal/external services available to them when we detect a user may need further help.

Thrive now proactively supports over 1 million employees globally with their mental health by using purely evidence-based tools and techniques, combined with gamification, to reduce insurance claims, help employees return to work sooner, and help people get better, and stay well.

Dr Keith Klintworth

Deputy CEO


Dr Keith Klintworth MBBCH FFA DIC MBA has significant private healthcare experience from his roles as a practicing anaesthesiologist, prior owner of private treatment facilities and Trade Representative to SA government and SA private healthcare committees. He joined VitalityHealth in October 2010 as Clinical Risk Director and now holds the role of Deputy CEO with responsibility for customer service, clinical operations, business intelligence, medical underwriting, intermediated retention, medical affairs/technical claims, Director of the HPA and representative to the Association of British Insurers and Independent Health Coalition.

Carl Laidler

Director of Wellbeing Services

Health Shield

Carl is the Director of Wellbeing Services at Health Shield, providing health screens in the workplace as a preventative measure against health concerns such as specific cancers, cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol and many more. Prior to Health Shield, Carl founded Prevent PLC, which conducted in excess of 250,000 on-site health screens over a 15-year period and provided services to NHS trusts, Royal Mail, Police forces and major city institutions.

Alan Lakey



Alan Lakey has been gainfully occupied in the industry since 1978. He's been a financial adviser since 1986 and started the acclaimed CIExpert system in 2012. He is an ex-Director of Adviser Alliance and an ex-Council member of APFA. He also spent eight unhappy years working for an assortment of insurers and distributors and is the winner of 20 awards for advisory excellence. He is the author of Growing Old Disgracefully, a biography of seminal ‘60s rock band The Pretty Things and recently wrote ‘Idiocy in Commercial Life: Practical Ways to Navigate Through Nonsense'.

Hannah Loveday


Yoga Loveday

In 2009, having spent 10 years in the performing arts industry, Hannah took nine months out to explore India. When rediscovering Yoga in its birthplace, Hannah discovered meditation. After a life-enriching journey, Hannah returned to the UK to complete Yoga teacher training to share her new found passion: the pursuit of its goals and the search for inner harmony both mentally and physically. During the last 10 years of teaching yoga, Hannah has also gained training in mindfulness which she was able to use to work with families with autism and within education. Hannah is passionate about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation and has been teaching courses for the past five years for adults with mental health issues that prevent them from working. Hannah has worked alongside the NHS running workshops for staff and service users in the mental health department.

Jaan Madan

Head of Commercial Development

Mental Health First Aid

Jaan Madan is Head of Commercial Development at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and leads on the organisation's engagement with workplaces in a broad range of sectors. Jaan has been involved with MHFA England's work for over a decade, first training as an instructor in 2009 and then going on the join the National Training team, a body of expert trainers responsible for teaching and mentoring new instructors.

In his time at MHFA England Jaan has been involved in developing and revising content for MHFA England's growing range of training courses, including a new eLearning MHFA One Hour course for workplaces. In recent years he has helped to oversee the growth of the organisation's business-to-business offer, both to corporate and government bodies. Jaan and his team work with organisations of all sizes, helping them to use MHFA training to build and enhance their approaches to workplace wellbeing to drive ‘whole organisational' change supportive of mentally healthier working environments.

Katharine Moxham


Group Risk Development (GRiD)

Katharine Moxham is spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), a position she's held exclusively since May 2009. Katharine works to generate a wider awareness and understanding of group risk products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) and their benefits for employers and employees. She regularly contributes to industry and business publications and debate, and has actively raised the profile of the group risk industry with the media and business organisations.

Prior to joining GRiD, Katharine built a profile as a driving force in the UK group risk market working for Towers Perrin, Aon Consulting and JLT Benefit Solutions, where she was Consulting Director of the Health & Risk practice. This broad-based industry expertise makes Katharine ideally placed for her role as industry commentator on issues affecting the group risk market.

Camilla Shaw

Head of Intermediary Sales and Client Relationships


Since joining Denplan, part of the Simplyhealth Group in 2005, Camilla has lead a number of high performing teams across multiple business divisions. Now Head of Intermediary Sales and Client Relationships, Camilla is set on delivering service excellence to the Employee Benefits Market.

Determined to improve access to healthcare for workers across the UK, she favours a collaborative approach to working with clients and brokers in order to drive the best possible levels of engagement.

Always focused on a sustainable proposition, Camilla helps her team to build strong relationships that deliver positive results for individuals, businesses and the market alike. Her experience and creativity combine to deliver effective solutions that truly meet client needs through a preventative approach to healthcare.

Johnny Timpson

Financial Protection Technical & Industry Affairs Manager

Scottish Widows

Johnny Timpson is Scottish Widows' Financial Protection Technical & Industry Affairs Manager. Johnny has worked in the individual and group protection industry for 40 years and is a member of the; ABI Protection Committee, Income Protection Task Force, the IPTF Welfare Working Group, Seven Families project team, Building Resilient Households Group and Cii Insuring Women's Futures Advisory Panel. In February 2018, Johnny was appointed "Disability Champion for the Insurance Industry and Profession" by DWP Office for Disabled People, Health & Work.

Ron Wheatcroft

Technical Manager

Swiss Re

Ron Wheatcroft is Technical Manager for Swiss Re's UK life and health business.

He is the author of its Group Watch reports and co-author of its series of Term & Health Watch reports. He leads Swiss Re's work with UK legislators and regulators, seeking ways to ensure the primary group and individual product markets work well for consumers and for financial institutions.

He led Swiss Re's work identifying the Life Assurance and Income Protection Gaps in the UK which has become the model which is now used across many other international markets.

He is a Board Member of the Investment & Life Assurance Group, a member of GRiD's Regulations Committee and Raising the Profile Working Party, and the ABI's Social Care Working Party.

In 2018, he became a member of the Steering Group of the DWP Champion Access to Insurance Working Party and leads the Working Group seeking ways to utilise the workplace more effectively to widen access to financial products and services through employers.

A Chartered Insurer, Ron is a past winner of the Protection Review Lifetime Achievement Award.

Outside work, Ron is a long-suffering season ticket holder at Gillingham FC where the only predictable thing is the hope that there will be four teams with fewer points at the end of each season!

Pam Whelan

Director of Corporate


Pam Whelan joined Denplan, part of the Simplyhealth Group, in 2000 as a corporate consultant having previously worked in the financial sector. Now Director of Corporate for Simplyhealth, Pam has driven innovation within the employee benefits sector, through market leading propositions that encourage a healthy workforce and a preventive approach to everyday healthcare.

Pam's strengths lie in connecting her team with UK employers and intermediaries to deliver the best possible outcomes from their employee benefit schemes through positive relationships. Pam is an advocate of first rate communication and excellent customer service in the delivery of an employee benefits package. She continues to use market insight and trends to promote everyday health, to the benefit of the UK workforce.

Andrew Wibberley


Alea Risk

Andrew Wibberley - Andrew set up Alea Risk in 2015, with a mission to make insurance easy to buy. Over the last four years he has worked with like-minded insurers, IFAs, IT companies and service providers to do just that. He doesn't just talk about these things at conferences but also works with clients to deliver on the good intentions. One current project is with Holloway Friendly who have a deliberately inclusive underwriting philosophy to enable more people to get the cover they need.

Andrew is currently chair of the Access To Insurance - Increasing Underwriting Trust and Transparency workstream. In a good week he balances self-employed life with the chaos of a young family - in most weeks it's just chaos!


Adam Saville



Adam has been the editor of COVER since January 2018. An NCTJ-trained B2B journalist with a consumer publishing background, he was previously the deputy editor of DJ Magazine, and has past experience writing about mortgages, captives/global risk and hedge funds.