Influencer Award



About the Award

This award is solely for individuals that really know which buttons to press to make things happen – from campaigning for a change in law to bringing together different groups to achieve what might have seemed impossible. We want to acknowledge the determination and hard work required to communicate clearly, put forth a persuasive argument and win people over to bring about positive change. The applicant must be based in the UK but their work can be International.

Our nominees are:

Lynne Stafford

Lynne joined gaddum in 2014 because she wanted to be part of an organisation helping to support local people through difficult times in their lives. Originally Lynne trained and worked as a nurse in England and Uganda, before working as a senior manager across the North West region within the NHS and charitable organisations.

Gaddum are an independent voluntary sector organisation established in 1833 with a long history of providing quality services in the field of health and social care.

As CEO of gaddum Lynne has worked to realise one shared vision uniting unwaged carers, the voluntary community and social enterprise sector and health and social care so no-one has to care alone. All carers have a right to be respected, valued and supported, equally in their caring role, as experts for their cared for and as individuals in their own right.

Lynne has:

  • Influenced Manchester City Council to develop a strategy to commission an anchor model for carers’ services across Manchester, which develops and sustains a community-led focus and vision. (Manchester Carers Network of 20 VCSE organisations delivering support to unwaged carers across Manchester).
  • Led on developing a Carers Charter co-created by carers and organisations across Greater Manchester through being VCSE representative on Greater Manchester Strategic Delivery Group on Carers. To support Greater Manchester in adopting a rights based approach for its carer population and to articulate a universal offer of support.
  • The signing of the Commitment to Carers & Carers Charter (Friday 19 January 2018) with Andy Burnham, Mayor for Greater Manchester, a historic and collective commitment to transform how carers are supported in their invaluable role across Greater Manchester.
  • Designed the model for Manchester carers support services, in close consultation with carers as real and expert partners. The model for carers support delivery reflects the Our Manchester principles of being rooted in communities and based on an asset and strength based approach; leading to the development of an Our Manchester Carer Friendly City.
  • Securing commitment from Manchester City Council to adopt this “Invest to save model” (Approximately £1.2 million investment).



Sonal Sachdev Patel

“When my parents came to the UK, they had nothing. But they always gave whatever they had,” says Sonal Sachdev Patel. “It wasn’t big, grand philanthropic gestures, but within our community, whatever they could do, they would do it. I have watched this example of giving growing up, and it has inspired me.”

A former strategy consultant, Sonal now runs the GMSP Foundation, established in 2006 by her parents, Ramesh and PratibhaSachdev, with the wealth they had accumulated primarily through Lifestyle Care, a successful home care business. The foundation is active in India, where it focuses on investing in women and girls, and in the UK, where it supports black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women who face gender violence.

Sonal’s vision is to bring about positive social transformation primarily by investing in CHANGING MINDSET.  How Sonal does this is through:

1) Sonal’s family foundation – GMSP Foundation Registered charity number 1113218

  1. Stopping violence against women
  2. Social and emotional learning in the early years

2) Her published children’s book – Gita: The Battle of the Worlds (Harper Collins)

GMSP Foundation – influencing NGO leaders, sector professionals Sonal’s vision is to use her family’s wealth as well as her own skill set to catalyse collaboration and change mindset. It is her belief that only through changing mindset will we build tolerance and respect of one another and eliminate issues of abuse and violence that are so prevalent in today’s society.

Gita: The Battle of the Worlds – influencing social impact through books.

A new work to bring out universality of religion and make scriptures relatable for children.

Sonal’s inspiration for writing this book was to take the wisdoms of the Holy Scriptures and bring them out in a modern and relatable way for her children. She wanted to arm them with the tools they need to build peaceful and happy lives.

In last 10 years the family has given away of £10million to charities primarily based in India and the UK. These funds have been used to influence local governments, local communities and stakeholders.

Sonal also partnered with Tender – an organisation that conduct arts and drama workshops in schools to promote healthy relationships. Her belief is that influencing children at a young age can have a multiplier effect and stop greater issues later.

Front line work included advocacy, legal support and refuge provision. Having hosted a roundtable with key players in the sector, we took time to understand the issues they were facing and the level of collaboration they were willing to undertake.



Vinny Smith

Besides meeting my wife and having two wonderful kids, leading MRF is the greatest privilege of my life.  I juggle the most important things in my life, alongside being a guest lecturer at the University of the West of England on organisational development; being a Steering Committee member of the Global Meningococcal Initiative; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturers; and a Trustee of Autistica. For leisure I cycle; visit art galleries; fight the weeds at my allotment; and keep four small fish and two snails.

In 2½ years since joining Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) as Chief Executive, I’ve helped develop and launch a new brand identity, new website and a new strategy. We’ve held governments to account on vaccine policy and called for and achieved a new World Health Organisation global task force for meningitis to 2030. In previous lives I have been, amongst other things, an international consultant, Chief Operating Officer, and Head of Direct Marketing for organisations as diverse as Cancer Research UK and the African Center for Economic Transformation (Ghana).

Vinny helped remind people that meningitis is still a leading cause of infant death in the UK, and highlighted for the first time that, despite much success, meningitis and neonatal sepsis are still the second biggest infectious killers of under-fives globally.

Vinny is a passionate advocate for the importance of the patient voice in all aspects of meningitis policy and the need to keep supporting those experiencing the disease. His efforts in the UK and globally have seen him present in the UK, US and Africa and he has joined the Steering Committee of the Global Meningococcal Initiative – an international group of expert scientists, doctors and public health officials.

He has worked tirelessly to achieve big ambitions, all the while remaining personable and approachable to member families that the charity helps.

Formerly a UK and Irish charity, Vinny has propelled MRF into international work and has visited clinics in countries where meningitis is making its most devastating impact. A triage tool that MRF and the Malawi-Liverpool-Welcome Trust (MLW) developed and piloted in Malawi has proven highly effective in ensuring children with serious illness get seen faster.

Vinny is leading MRF closer towards its vision of a world free from meningitis and septicaemia.