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Benevolent Fund Trustees
  Committee Trustees
Biddy Fisher

Biddy Fisher - Chair

Biddy Fisher had a career in Academic Libraries working in Norwich, London and Sheffield. A career long member of CILIP she was honoured to be made President in 2010 and doubly honoured to be awarded the OBE in the Queen's New Year’s Honours of 2011. Since retiring Biddy spends time on her motorbike often participating in charity rides and walking in the North Yorkshire Dales with husband John. Her voluntary work includes leading historical tours of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which is close to her home in Denby Dale, West Yorkshire. Biddy joined the CILIP Benevolent Fund Board of Trustees in 2014 and became its Chairman in 2017.

Nicky Whitsed

Nicky Whitsed - Deputy Chair

Nicky was formally Director of Library Services at the Open University for over 20 years where her remit included university-wide information management services as well as services to 200,000 distance learners and academic and professional staff of the University. She has also worked in FE, NHS and pharmaceuticals. Nicky has been an active member of the profession throughout her career. She was a Board member of the Digital Preservation Coalition, Co- Chair for the International M-Libraries Conference, Chair of CILIP UKeiG 2013-2016 and is currently the Marketing & Publicity co-ordinator for CILIP’s new Knowledge & Information Management special interest group. Nicky is also a CILIP mentor. Her particular interests are staff & professional skills development, user experience, academic research practices (open access, research data management etc), digital preservation & archiving, & knowledge sharing. You can find Nicky on both Linked in and Twitter.

Richard Osborn

Richard Osborn - Treasurer

Richard has been a Trustee and Treasurer of the CILIP Benevolent Fund since 2018. Before taking early retirement in the summer of 2017, he worked for 32 years in health libraries, latterly as the Strategic Lead for Library Services and eLearning for the NHS in London for 10 years. This role involved him playing a leading part in the national programme of work "Knowledge for Healthcare" in which he led the workstream on the national procurement of electronic information resources. He was honoured to receive the CILIP Health Libraries Group Cyril Barnard Memorial Prize in 2018 for his contribution to medical librarianship. He continues to chair the Board of the Health Library and Information Services Directory. Since 1992 he has been a Licensed Lay Minister (Reader) in the Church of England and, in recognition of his contribution to the life of the Diocese of St Albans, was installed as Honorary Lay Canon of St Albans Cathedral in November 2018. His interests include music, cricket and medical history.

Gail Downe

Gail Downe - Administrator

The Administrator, Gail Downe, had a career in the academic sector as Assistant Secretary both at a federal and national level. Liaising with members seeking assistance and supporting the Trustees of the Benevolent Fund is a natural extension of her work and she enjoys the variety of tasks involved.

Ayub Khan

Ayub Khan

Ayub Khan is Universal Services Manager for Warwickshire County Council, with operational and financial responsibility for several front-facing departments - including Libraries. He started his library career 25 years ago, as a Saturday assistant and has risen through the ranks. He is a Fellow and past President of CILIP, a Non-Executive Director and Treasurer of Libraries Connected, and represents the UK in the International Federation of Library Associations. He is on the British Library’s Public Lending Right Board and Public Libraries Steering Group. He is also a peer reviewer of library and cultural services for the Local Government Association. Married with three children, Ayub lives in the West Midlands. He was awarded an MBE for his services to libraries in 2013.

Judith Powles

Judith Powles

Judith (Judy) Powles has been a Trustee of the Benevolent Fund since 2015 following her retirement in 2014 from her post as Librarian/Archivist at Spurgeon’s College, a theological college in South London, where she had worked for nearly 30 years. Prior to that she worked in academic libraries at Royal Holloway College and the University of Exeter, followed by a post as Chief Cataloguer for the London Borough of Southwark. She was also Chair of the Association of British Theological and Philosophical Libraries (ABTAPL) from 1991 until 2008. In retirement she has been volunteering at Dulwich Picture Gallery as well as keeping busy helping with grandchildren, but also remaining in touch with the profession.

John Vincent

John Vincent

John Vincent has worked in the public sector since the 1960s, primarily for Hertfordshire, Lambeth and Enfield public library services. In 1997, he was invited to become part of the team that produced the UK’s first review of public libraries and social exclusion (from which The Network, which he now coordinates, originated).

John runs courses and lectures, writes, produces regular newsletters and ebulletins, and lobbies for greater awareness of the role that libraries, archives, museums, and the cultural & heritage sector play in contributing to social justice.


He is particularly interested in supporting the work that libraries do with young people in care, with LGBTQ+ people (he is co-chair of the CILIP LGBTQ+ Network Steering Group), and with ‘new arrivals’ to the UK.

In September 2010, the book he co-wrote with John Pateman, Public libraries and social justice, was published by Ashgate (now Routledge); and, in January 2014, he published LGBT people and the UK cultural sector … (also by Ashgate, now Routledge). In 2018, John’s report to Arts Council England was published, Libraries welcome everyone: six stories of diversity and inclusion from libraries in England. He is currently writing a resource pack to support public libraries that are hoping to become Libraries of Sanctuary.

In 2014, John was given a CILIP CDEG Special Diversity Award, and, in September 2014, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of CILIP.


Stephanie Kenna

Stephanie Kenna retired in 2010 after a long career at the British Library where her many roles included reference work, preservation, research grant administration, regional programme management and, finally, strategy and planning. Since then she has, among other things, done some consultancy work, joined CILIP’s Audit Committee and enjoyed being Secretary to the Friends of the British Library. Her interests include crime fiction, horse racing, Coronation Street, and long country walks - not necessarily in that order!

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