Three new trustees have joined the board of Sheffield-based charity Support Dogs, from the worlds of business, marketing and finance.

Mark Holmshaw is former European President and CEO of multinational imaging organisation Canon Medical Systems.

Maurice O’Brien, co-founder of Flexa, a VC-backed flexible working platform, is a former a member of the Global Leadership Team for Betfair.

Completing the line-up, Amanda Royston is a business and marketing leader, and former marketing director of PizzaExpress, Byron and Starbucks.

All three are keen dog lovers and owners.  Mr O’Brien’s dog was a rescue animal from Hungary, while Mr Holmshaw is a former volunteer for a Labrador rescue charity.

Support Dogs is a national charity based in Sheffield which trans assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and disability, enabling them to lead safer, more independent lives.

Mr Holmshaw (pictured left with pet dog Monty) said his ambition for the charity would be for it to become a household name.

He hopes to bring his business development skills to the Support Dogs’ board and use his influence as a former CEO of a major multinational to open doors to large organisations and potential sponsors.

“Having been responsible for a large multinational organisation and heading up the European business I feel that I can help with development of the business strategy,” he added. “I’m looking forward to helping generate future business and help to define a long-term strategy for the future of the charity to make sure they are well set for the future.”

Mr O’Brien (pictured right with rescue dog Gruff), who trained as an accountant at PwC, said that the charity’s work with rescue dogs – 1 in 4 of the dogs the charity trains come from a rescue centre or was an unwanted pet – was a big factor in attracting him to the trustee role.

“I would really like to help the charity grow its awareness across the UK and, with that, build an even stronger financial base upon which we can help even more people across the country. I’m really looking forward to meeting the wonderful dogs, their fantastic trainers and many of the families who are benefiting from Support Dogs' vital services,” he added.

Ms Royston(pictured below left) said: “I have experienced the physical and mental health benefits a dog can bring and feels particularly passionately about the important difference trained specialist assistance dogs can make for people living with various medical conditions.

“I am committed to utilising my skills and experience to grow awareness of Support Dogs and to help many more people to live socially inclusive and independent lives as a result of the support this incredible charity can offer”.

 Rita Howson, chief executive of Support Dogs said: “We’d like to welcome Mark, Maurice and Amanda to the Board of Trustees.  They join us after a critical time for the charity, as we face the impact of the pandemic while trying to grow and help many more families so desperate for our support. We are looking forward to benefiting from their business, marketing and strategic expertise as we grow and develop.”