Meet The Team

We are led by a Board of Trustees and senior management team. We employ around 35 people and are supported by a dedicated team of volunteers.

Senior Team

Chief Exec

Chris Stelling

Chief Executive Officer

Chris joined the charity in December 2019, having worked in a variety of roles across the public and private sector before joining another local charity, Autism Bedfordshire, nearly 10 years ago.

Here Chris worked in several roles supporting autistic children, adults and their families to navigate a fascinating but complex world. 

Chris wants Bedfordshire to be the best place that a carer can live.

An interesting note: Chris used to volunteer with young carers in the CiB office.

Tracey Gill

Finance Manager

Tracey joined Carers in Bedfordshire in mid 2018 after previously working for a firm of chartered accountants and two not for profit organisations.

Tracey has experience in all areas of finance, including budgeting, forecasting, management and year end accounts, and partial exemption vat, commercial and sponsorship agreements, management of company vehicles and equipment, management of staff, human resources and reporting to various stakeholders, and working with voluntary organisations.

Service manager

Harriet Opalinski

Operations Manager

Hatty joined us in December 2020. She previously worked for Age UK for three years, as their first their Strategic Development Manager and then Independent Living Service Manager.

Her specialist skills include leadership, people management and organisational strategic development. 

Harriet is committed to making a positive impact on carers lives and ensuring that CiB provide the best possible service.  


Phil Taverner

Phil is the Chair of Carers in Bedfordshire.

He spent 35 years of his career in social work and 10 years commissioning health research for the NHS. He chaired the NICE committee for the guideline on Support for Adult Carers and continues to chair other committees as well. He also chairs a Public and Community Oversight Group for two Health Protection Research Units based at Imperial College. He still dabbles with community development work and volunteers for the RSPB.

He has extensive experience of the voluntary sector, both as a senior manager and as a trustee. This included setting up and chairing a new family support charity.  

He has observed caring first- hand as his mother cared for his grandmother and, later, his father for about 20 years.

Emma Wilkinson

Emma was Chair of Carers in Bedfordshire from 2017-2020 and a board member since 2014. She works at the University of Bedfordshire and has a PhD in Public Health.

She is a carer for her brother who has learning disability. As a sibling carer all her life and with an interest in health, she is keen to promote the value, rights and wellbeing of carers through all her voluntary and paid work.

Graham Mills

Graham has been a director and trustee of Carers in Bedfordshire since 2014, acting as its Treasurer from 2016. He brings 40 years of broad industry experience to the Board, including as a strategy director for a major telecommunications company until 2014.

He contributed to several important innovations in digital media and communications, playing a leading role in the development of digital TV standards worldwide over 25 years until 2018.


He volunteers with the Cranfield Trust and the Institute of Advanced Motorists, where he coaches local people to pass their advanced driving test. Graham lives in rural north Bedfordshire and provides carer support to his elderly father.

Tania Palmariellodiviney

Tania is the Founder and Director for Data Privacy Simplified, supporting clients in all sectors ,with the main sector being the health and care sector. Her specialist governance and data protection skills mean she can help with the compliance of standards and policies.

Her skill set ranges from strategic to managerial and operational.  

She has been a carer since the birth of her middle child and through marriage to her step children. Carers in Bedfordshire provided her with much needed support and she wants to give that back.

Jacqui Fincham

Jacqui is a career Civil Servant, currently at the Cabinet Office supporting Government Departments to deliver value for money grant funding.

She is recognised as a grants expert, is an alumnus of the Government Commissioning Academy and a reviewer for the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. Her skills include project and programme management, leadership and strategic thinking. Her grants expertise has been honed both in Government and in the charity sector.  

She was a young carer herself and is passionate about making a real difference to the lives of carers in the county.

Nicola Kidby

Nicola is a qualified management accountant, a carer and lives with ME/CFS. 

She has volunteered widely in education and children’s social care in Central Bedfordshire. Currently she volunteers on a weekly basis with Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire as a volunteer accountant and have just finished a 3-year term as a lay member on the committee producing a new NICE guideline for ME/CFS.

She cares for her daughter who also has ME/CFS and her son who has Down’s Syndrome.

Over the years, she has often had to advocate strongly for both my children and when she feel something is fundamentally wrong or unfair she will (and have) challenge it.

Sue Lowe

Sue was elected as a director and trustee of Carers in Bedfordshire in 2017.Sue is retired from a career in Human Resources and hasover 30 years’ experience in private sector industry. She uses her knowledge and expertise to provide advice and guidance to the Board and more generally to the Charity. She brings knowledge on HR best practice and UK employment law ensuring CIB complies with its legal duties and is also a great place to work.


She lives in Bedford with Simon and has two grown up sons. She is a former carer for her mother who had a life limiting illness.

Mercy Canning

Mercy Canning is a CEO and co-owner of a live-in care service based in Bedford. Mercy comes with more than 15 years of human resources, leadership, health and social care experience. Mercy has worked with a wide range of organisations such as the BBC, Adecco, Hard Rock Café as a human resources lead.  

Mercy is a trained mental capacity and safeguarding lead for both adults and children and works with several organisations across East Anglia. Being a business owner has provided Mercy with a wealth of experience including digital marketing and social media management. Mercy holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and is IOSH (Institute of Safety & Health) qualified. 

Mercy has 2 young children (10 and 6) and has come to Carers in Bedfordshire as she helps care for her 94-year-old father who has COPD, heart failure and limited mobility. 

Joanne Preston

Joanne is a career civil servant with experience across policy, strategy, sponsorship, shared services delivery, human resources, and priority Projects delivery in the public sector (and with private sector partners). She currently leads on providing strategic direction, oversight, and support, to a number of defence arms-length bodies and enabling organisations, and their boards, for the delivery of critical services to Defence.  Joanne also has a wealth of experience in the Diversity and Inclusion field.  She is currently the Chair of the MOD London Disability Network and the Diversity and Inclusion Champion for one of the key Head Office Directorates.  

Joanne has previous experience of being a trustee from her time as a school governor at two of her local schools.  Joanne has two grown up children and has personal experience of being a carer, from both when she was a child and also now during her adult life.  As such she understands, and is a passionate advocate for, the needs of carers, and appreciates first-hand the work of Carers in Bedfordshire and the vital support they give to our community. 

Jagdeep Ahluwalia

Jag is a qualified Management Accountant (CIMA) with more than 15 years experience working in Financial Services Risk and Regulation at Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, HSBC and Barclays Bank. He is Managing Director and owner of a local community care provider. Combatting loneliness and isolation in older adults is a particular motivation of his as well as raising the profile Health and Social Care workers.

Michelle Evans-Riches

Michelle was elected as a Trustee in 2023 and has over 20 years senior management experience in local government and the NHS with expertise in Corporate Governance.

Michelle currently works for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board which works with partners to improve health and care services for residents.

She lives in Leighton Buzzard and has two grown children. She was primary carer for her Dad, who had life limiting conditions and understands the importance of having a person-centred approach to care and support and an understanding what matters to the individual.