PLANETS Charity Team
PLANETS Charity is part of Southampton Hospital Charity. Alongside the Charity office team we have a wonderful team of volunteers that run the charity in their free time:
Layla Stephen – PLANETS CEO
Layla has had the pleasure of running the charity since its inception back in early 2011 after being approached by founders Neil Pearce and Brian Stedman. She met the founders after being diagnosed herself with multiple neuroendocrine tumour’s in December 2008, shortly after the birth her son.
Layla says ‘I am truly blessed to be a part of an amazing multi disciplinary fundraising team, based voluntarily and at University Hospital Southampton. The last 4 years have been a whirlwind for PLANETS and we have achieved unbelievable levels of support and awareness far beyond our greatest expectations. We have an ambitious strategy ahead of us with plans for innovation and growth within a charity where a passion in fundraising for PLANETS cancers is at the heart of our work’.
Jo Green – PLANETS Marketing Director
Jo runs the PLANETS website and social media and takes care of the branding and marketing for the charity, among other things! Jo was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine cancer in October 2011 at the age of 34 and had major surgery with Mr Neil Pearce in December 2011. Since then she has been heavily organised in the charity, arranging a successful charity ball in 2012 and rounding up all her friends to take part in various crazy challenges, usually with some running involved! Jo has a full time job as a Sales and Marketing Manager in a health club in Bournemouth and also teaches fitness classes and says ‘my involvement in PLANETS has been very important to me since my diagnosis. I have made some great friends but also love the fact that I am being proactive with regards to gaining awareness and improving treatment for other NET patients.’
Professor Tim Underwood – Trustee
Tim Underwood is Professor of Gastrointestinal Surgery at the University of Southampton. Following a Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinician Scientist Fellowship, he became a Cancer Research UK & Royal College of Surgeons of England Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellow in April 2017.
Professor Underwood leads a programme of research studying the role of the tumour microenvironment in cancer development and progression. His team develop and apply advanced technologies to understand tumour complexity in oesophageal cancer including highly parallel genome-wide expression profiling of single cells using nanoliter droplets (DropSeq) and the generation of multicellular organoid models.
Professor Underwood is a member of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Upper GI Clinical Studies Group and he is a member of the Steering Committee of the Oesophageal Cancer Clinical and Molecular Stratification (OCCAMS) consortium. He is a past Chairman of the Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign and a trustee of Heartburn Cancer UK.
Emily Dolan – Trustee
Emily’s involvement in PLANETS came through the passing of her late mother from pancreatic cancer. Being grateful for the high level of treatment and care her mother received from surgeon Neil Pearce and his team, Emily was keen to support his charity in its infant stages. This came about through a charity ball, orientated to commemorate her mothers memory and raise money for PLANETS. With the support of an amazing group of family and friends, Emily has held two successful charity balls so far with another one in the pipeline.
Tori Caine – Trustee
Tori has successfully organised mass tandem skydive and abseil events for over 120 thrill seeking PLANETS supporters. Proud moments include watching her Mum and Pancreatic Cancer survivor Linda Caine scale the famous Spinnaker Tower and helping Mr Neil Pearce and Dr Brian Stedman to fulfil their skydive ambitions. As a licensed skydiver herself, Tori enjoys sharing her passion and raising funds at the same time. She also runs a dance school in Southampton and enjoys choreographing and theatre directing for local charity shows.
Ruth Willrich – Trustee
Ruth is a patient with multiple neuroendocrine tumour’s, originally diagnosed in 2010. Since then she has had a lot of treatment with both Neil Pearce and Brian Stedman who she says have ‘put her back on the rails with a not-to-be-beaten attitude.’
Ruth was invited to join the PLANETS team in its infancy in early 2011. Ruth says ‘I have a jack-of-all-trades role within the team, primarily focused on fund raising, creating awareness and promoting the cause. I’ve organised two very successful balls, fundraised through participation in a variety of events and supported new patients. Outside of the charity I enjoy spending time with my teenage daughter, who also gives her support to the charity wherever possible.’