We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sherine Wheeler as The Fire Fighters Charity’s new Chief Executive.

Assuming the position on 22 April, Sherine joins us from Mayhew, an animal welfare and veterinary charity with operations in the UK and overseas. She brings extensive leadership experience having worked to broaden the reach and deepen the impact of charities, including at Marie Curie, Action for Children and Young Lives vs Cancer. She has also advised a number of charities on strategy, impact and performance.

Speaking following her appointment, Sherine said: “I’m delighted to be leading The Fire Fighters Charity and its specialist teams into the future. Together we will ensure many thousands of members of the fire services community can live healthier and happier, and that they are valued and recognised for their significant contribution to society.

“It’s exciting to join such an impactful and dynamic organisation. It will be an absolute honour for me to play a part in The Fire Fighters Charity’s vital services, supporting the whole fire community and ensuring fire service personnel are fit and well so they can be there for us when we need them most. I’m very much looking forward to working with all the incredible individuals, teams and partners that support and deliver Fire Fighter’s Charity’s work day-in-day-out.”

John Baines, Chair of The Fire Fighters Charity Board of Trustees, said of Sherine’s appointment: “I am delighted to welcome Sherine to The Fire Fighters Charity, she has achieved a huge amount during her career to date, leading organisations and teams to affect positive change and engage effectively with supporters and beneficiaries.

“I am confident that Sherine will lead our organisation into an exciting future, building on our 80-year history to ensure we can provide health and wellbeing opportunities, and life-enhancing support to more members of the UK’s fire services community long into the future.”

Sherine’s appointment follows the announcement in November 2023 of current Chief Executive, Dr Jill Tolfrey’s resignation. Leaving the organisation after 10 years in the role, Dr Tolfrey commented: “Stepping away from the Charity comes with some sadness. However, I am very proud of all that has been achieved over the last 10 years and, as we begin a new strategic period, I feel the time is right for someone new to take the helm and continue to drive the Charity forward towards long term sustainability, together with continued excellence and leadership in health and wellbeing within the fire community.”

During her time as Chief Executive, Dr Tolfrey oversaw significant change across the organisation, including expansion of our in-person and community services, the development of our digital, self-help and prevention-focussed services, the launch of My Fire Fighters Charity, the £1.8m redevelopment of Harcombe House and, most recently, the launch of our new Suicide Crisis Line.

Over recent years, Dr Tolfrey has also led the Charity through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, both of which required the charity to move quickly in the provision of agile, responsive services for the fire services community, and which brought considerable challenges in regard to fundraising. Having safely navigated those storms, Jill leaves the charity at a time when it is now supporting over 10,000 people a year, providing accessible in-person, community-based and digital services for all serving and retired personnel, as well as their families.

Dr Tolfrey will leave The Fire Fighters Charity on 31 May, after working alongside Sherine during a transition and handover period.