A Place on the Board: Jane Tozer of Asthma UK

Tozer became a trustee at the charity after she developed the condition herself in adulthood

Jane Tozer has previously worked for technology firm IBM in a sales and marketing role
Jane Tozer has previously worked for technology firm IBM in a sales and marketing role

Many trustees become involved with a charity because they or their families are affected by the issues it addresses. Jane Tozer developed asthma in adulthood, as did her mother, so she decided to get involved with Asthma UK.

"Most people think that asthma develops only in childhood, but for me it occurred later in life, and there are a lot of other people for whom that's the case," she says.

The charity's aim is to reduce the number of asthma deaths and emergency admissions - currently, there are about 184 admissions and three deaths a day in the UK, most of which the charity says are preventable. It has funded medical research for many years, but the board decided to add a new focus on helping more asthma sufferers in the short term. As a result, the charity recently set up the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research.

"There is a time lag with medical research - it takes about 15 years from lab to patient - so we decided to maintain our basic research funding, but also to launch the new centre to focus on understanding and making better use of existing drugs and treatments," she says. "Charities often don't have much in the way of resources, so what you have you must use carefully."

Tozer worked for the technology firm IBM in sales and marketing and later became chief executive of her own start-up software firm. She has for 30 years been a trustee at her local Citizens Advice Bureau in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, called Three Rivers CAB. She is also on the board of the Information Technologists Livery Company Charity.

"When I was at IBM, a colleague said 'you're young and healthy with a secure job, so you should put something back', and this prompted me to get involved with the local CAB," she says. She is also a non-executive director on a number of boards. "As they say, if you want something done, ask a busy person," she says.

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