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Board of Trustees


Peter O’Brien


Peter is an independent communications consultant with over 40 years’ experience in both the public and private sectors. He worked for the Irish Government in both civil service departments and semi state bodies – IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Peter been responsible for international corporate affairs teams in two of the world’s leading multinational companies Wyeth, now part of Pfizer, and Diageo. Peter is an experienced Mentor to several executives in charities and social enterprises supported by both Carmichael House and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.


Dr Cormac Owens

Board Member

Cormac is a Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at Children’s Health Ireland, Dublin. He trained initially in Dublin, followed by fellowships at Institute Gustave Roussy, Paris and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. He is a member of the European Neuroblastoma Society (SIOPEN) executive and clinical trials committees and the international society of paediatric oncology (SIOP) scientific advisory council. At CHI, he is the director of the clinical trials unit.


Gerry Halpenny

Board Member

Gerry is a partner in the Corporate and Commercial Department of LK Shields Solicitors. He also leads the firm’s Mergers and Acquisitions practice. Gerry qualified as a solicitor in 1981 and joined LK Shields Solicitors as a Partner in 1998. Gerry joined the Cancer Fund for Children (Ireland) Board in March 2015. He has been involved since 2009 with the Haven charity which works extensively in Haiti and also served on the corporate advisory group of Paralympics Ireland in the run up to the 2016 Rio Paralympics.


Pádraic Ó Giolláin

Board Member

Pádraic is the Regional Chairman for Ireland of the Hottinger Group, an international Family Office in the financial services industry. Pádraic graduated from the Naval College as an officer in the Irish Naval Service and studied in the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth UK. Having served at sea and as a staff officer at Naval Headquarters, he retired to pursue a career in financial services and has held a number of senior management and leadership roles before co-founding the Hottinger Group in 2011. Pádraic is a member of the Institute of Directors.


Peter Shields

Board Member

Peter is the group manager for Optomise and Telford Opticians. Optomise provide an award-winning eye care service across Northern Ireland for anyone unable to get out to a high street practice. He has over 18 years senior management experience in the retail sector, leading teams to win multiple national awards. Since 2015 Peter has been a fundraising volunteer for Cancer Fund For Children and continues to volunteer for the fundraising team at local events. In 2021 Peter was selected to be part of the Boardroom Apprentice Program where he shadowed Cancer Fund For Children’s board of trustees from September to August 2022. On successful completion of the programme Peter was delighted to be asked to join the board permanently.


Robin McCormick

Board Member

Robin is a chartered electrical engineer and an independent strategic advisor working mainly in the renewable energy sector. He was Chair & MD of SONI the business in NI that operates the electricity grid and ‘keeps the lights on’ and held all-island group executive roles. Robin is a Chartered Director and has several non-executive roles. Robin joined Cancer Fund for Children’s Board of Trustees in 2023.


Donal Hutchinson

Board Member

Donal is a Chartered Engineer and has over 40 years’ international experience in the construction industry. He has key skills in Building Design, Leadership, Team Building, Strategic Planning, Program and Project Management and developing and delivering cost effective innovative solutions to complex projects. In the past Donal served as Managing Director of Arup Consulting Engineers and more recently as PM Group Managing Director for the MENA region. Donal is a Fellow of Engineers Ireland and holds an IOD diploma in Company Direction. Donal joined Cancer Fund for Children’s Board of Trustees in 2023.


Dr Rob Johnston

Board Member

Dr Robert Johnston is a paediatric oncologist, Multidisciplinary Team lead based at Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.  Originally from Northern Ireland, Dr Johnston undertook his undergraduate studies at University of Glasgow, and subsequent initial postgraduate training in Scotland followed by specialist training in Australia and Edinburgh Scotland before returning to Belfast in 2011 to take up his current post.  A member of the CFC Board since April 2019, Dr Johnston is passionate to improve and optimise the experience of young people and their family affected by cancer.


Rory Best

Board Member

Rory Best is one of the most successful and most capped rugby players in history, having earned 124 caps for Ireland, from his debut in 2005 to his retirement at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, his fourth World Cup.  He graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in agriculture before becoming a professional rugby player. He played for Ulster from 2004 to 2019 and for Ireland from 2005 to 2019, as well as touring with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017. Throughout his playing career, he also worked at the family’s farming business in Poyntzpass and brings huge experience of the challenges faced by modern farmers in a fast-changing agricultural world.

Since retiring Rory has predominantly focused on his charitable endeavours and is a passionate philanthropist. Rory joined The Ardonagh Group in the role of Business Development Director in 2021, lending his voice to work with Ardonagh in its support of mental health awareness and other issues affecting young people. He has since joined Ardonagh Global Partners mergers and acquisition team. In his role as ambassador for Cancer Fund for Children Rory raised over €2 million to help the charity build a second therapeutic short break centre in Co. Mayo. Rory joined Cancer Fund for Children’s Board of Trustees in February 2024.


Alice Nugent

Board Member

Following the death of her daughter in 2010 from leukaemia, Alice Nugent founded the Katie Nugent Fund, which is a partner of Cancer Fund for Children. Alice works as a psychotherapist and runs a family farm and historic house in Co. Westmeath, hosting music festivals and other events. Previously Alice had a career in outdoor advertising in London, managing accounts for several multinational companies before being recruited to head up the Irish office of a UK-based internet start-up. Alice has been actively involved in the funding and development of emotional support services to children undergoing cancer treatment, as well as their families, in Crumlin Children’s Hospital, working alongside Trinity College, Dublin.

Alice joined Cancer Fund for Children’s Board of Trustees in February 2024.