As Chair of the Trustees at Daisy Chain, Dr Edwin Pugh believes his place is at the bottom of the pile – supporting the charity from the bottom up.

“I see it as an inverted pyramid and my role is to help support all the people in the front line who deliver Daisy Chain’s services so families affected by autism get the best care possible,” he explains.

“We have to make sure services are absolutely the best they can possibly be and the Daisy Chain team receives the support necessary to fulfil their purpose, that is how I see my role.”

Edwin has been involved in charity work and charitable organisations for most of his working life in the National Health Service – and he knew of Daisy Chain before it was even founded.

His colleague Albert Dicken took him to see Calf Fallow Farm that Albert’s charitable trust, the Goshen Trust, was about to purchase as a base to help the founder Lesley, realise her dream of a haven for families affected by autism. When he was invited to join the Board of Trustees four years ago, he was delighted to accept and in 2015 he became Chair.

“It’s an honour to be the Chair. Daisy Chain has very committed trustees who do a lot behind the scenes to support the organisation and I just have the privilege of chairing the meetings,” he smiles.

Married to Kim, a paediatrician who specialises in autism, Edwin has a deep understanding of the condition and the support families need. He himself started his career as a GP before moving into the public health field so he and his wife could go and work with Cambodian refugees on the Thailand – Cambodia border. They went for a year and ended up staying for two. Since then they have undertaken overseas missions many times.

“It changed my whole perspective on life,” Edwin admits. “Before that it’s fair to say I was career minded but working with refugees who have nothing and live from day to day made me think very differently. I found it personally rewarding and it suited me to be helping.”

On their return to the UK, Edwin became Director of Public Health for Darlington which involved planning services. He entered the charitable world when he became involved in the setting up of the purpose built Butterwick Hospice for adults and children and took a role as medical director. Simultaneously he took up a post as consultant in palliative medicine at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust helping patients and their families in the hospital and community.

Edwin is proud of how Daisy Chain has developed, “It has grown hugely in the 15 years since Lesley had her original vision. It started out with volunteers and a lot of good will, it’s now a major enterprise that supports 2,000 families in the Tees Valley area and needs governance and expertise to cope with the changes that such growth brings.”

Edwin believes the charity superstore, which will be four years old in 2018, plays an enormous part in this allowing the charity to diversify into offering employability courses and work placements for adults on the autistic spectrum. “A lot of the young people who have come through Daisy Chain over the years are now adults but they still need support and the store offers a unique opportunity to provide this.”

Edwin’s commitment as a trustee is demonstrated by his willingness to roll his sleeves up and muck in – he regularly volunteers at the store and can be seen sorting out the picture displays and checking over the antiques to be auctioned to raise extra funds for Daisy Chain.

“I don’t think the board of trustees should get involved in the daily business of running the charity but neither do I want to be remote so I enjoy getting stuck in and hearing all the gossip,” he laughs.

The vision for Daisy Chain, Edwin says, is to always continue to improve and widen services where possible especially to other areas. Daisy Chain is a compassionate and caring organisation and services and care are always the top item on the agenda of our board meetings.

“I have found in my life that the greatest joy in life is giving – and that is very evident in Daisy Chain.”