DDRC Healthcare, Plymouth, Devon

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Management and Board

Our organisation is run on a day-to-day basis by the Joint Management Committee made up of our Senior Management Team (SMT) and the following roles: Chamber Superintendent, Engineering Manager, Training Manager, Centre Manager, Nurse Manager, Finance Manager,Communications Manager and Business Systems Manager.


Introducing our Senior Management Team (SMT):  

Dr Gary Smerdon - CEO/Research Director

Gary completed his first degree (BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences) and PhD (yeast biotechnology) at the University of Exeter in Devon. In 1991 he moved to the Plymouth Marine Laboratory where he spent 13 years as a molecular biologist developing research into oceanography and coastal shelf science. He learnt to dive at Fort Bovisand in Plymouth in 1996 and in 2003 he was appointed as Research Director at what was then called the Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC), to coordinate and develop the research. Together with Senior Nurse Ali Bishop, he set up the DDRC Healthcare subsidiary company DDRC Wound Care in 2011, through which further research avenues will be developed. In November 2012 he also took on the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the charity and Director of our training subsidiary DDRC Professional Services.




Dr Christine Penny - Medical Director

Christine caught the diving bug as a medical student in Newcastle and navigated her way through a medical rotation and two years of Emergency Medicine in between training to be a dive instructor and running a UK based dive liveaboard. Christine’s first post in Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine was as a Civilian Medical Officer at the Institute of Naval Medicine, which also provided experience in medical aspects of Submarine Escape and Rescue. During this time Christine undertook training in the States as well as spending time in Aberdeen learning about commercial diving. Christine managed to squeeze in training to be a GP and undertaking a Postgrad Diploma in Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine with the University of Auckland before moving to Plymouth in 2006 to work at DDRC. In 2010 Christine had a year in the sun in Australia working for Hyperbaric Health as a Medical Director of a unit in Perth before returning to Plymouth to take up the new role of Director of DDRC, which subsequently became the Medical Director of DDRC Healthcare, heading up the Clinical Team.




 Peter Atkey - Operations Director

Peter Atkey

Pete is originally from London but has been based in the South West for the majority of his life. His background is in commercial diving and underwater inspection. Latterly he ran a company offering consultancy services to both inshore and offshore companies but in joining DDRC Healthcare he was able to apply his skills to the management of health and safety of our chamber operations. In 2012 Pete became a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Peter has also, for the past nine years, been on the Board of the European Baromedical Association (EBAss). He is currently the President of the EBAss Accreditation Committee and as such is responsible for their accreditation system.




Introducing our Board of Trustees (voluntary roles)


IAN BERRY  (Acting Chair) Manager of Port Elliot Country Park, former Royal Marine. PADI MSDT. 

SHAUN WALBRIDGE Managing Director of Matrix Legal & Forensic Services Ltd, volunteer Treasurer of The Zone youth charity in Plymouth, PADI qualified dive

BRIAN CLARGO Chartered Mechanical Engineer (retired), microbrewery owner manager, BSAC PADI IANTD and TDI Sport Technical Diver with over 1300 logged diver worldwide, experienced dive club Diving Officer and Training Officer, BSAC Open Water Instructor and Advanced Diver, PADI Divemaster, IANTD & TDI Advanced Trimix and CCR qualified with a keen interest in the technical and physicological aspects of diving, and the physics of diving.Brian was also a patient of DDRC Healthcare having had a bend in 2008 followed by a successful PFO repair and completed his NAS training with DDRC Professional Services Training Officer Jon Parlour.

GAVIN ANTHONY Chemist specialising in Biochemistry, Inorganic Chemistry and Analysis, worked with the MOD on diving and life support systems.Diving systems work started with development of gas control and analysis techniques for diving equipment, in particular the removal of carbon dioxide and addition of oxygen to closed-circuit diving equipment. This included unmanned testing of diving breathing apparatus in respect of breathing performance and gas control, and analysis of submarine air purification systems. Later work was on the physiology of diving systems transferring unmanned test procedures to the manned testing of diving equipment. The diving physiology also included mixed gas decompression, thermal studies on divers and development of thermal protection systems.Recent technical work has been on the development and evaluation, both unmanned and manned, of closed-circuit diving, thermal protection, and decompression systems for Military and Civilian use. This has included the development of safety standards for diving systems and the investigation of diving incidents. Expertise in life support has also been applied to non diving systems such as submarine atmospheres, escape apparatus and fire fighting protective equipment.The technical disciplines have also been coupled with a practical knowledge of diving (having qualified as a commercial diver and extensive recreational diving expertise).

KEITH WALKER Member of General Chiropractic Council, Peninsula Chiropractic Clinic. Keith is a member of the Research Committee of the Royal College of Chiropractors where he is working with a team investigating how chiropractors interface with evidence-based practice. For the past 11 years Keith has had a role in the Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry Plymouth University as theme lead for a Special Study Unit (SSU) provided to 3rd year medical students.  He provides an SSU at the clinic but also helps coordinate, manage and recruit other providers to the theme.

RAYMOND SPARROW Visiting Scientist with ICCMR, Plymouth University and Marine Biology Association Undertakes research in unconventional computing and synthetic biology. He is also a Director and Programme Manager of the Suzanne Sparrow Plymouth International Language School. 

RONEN DAY Chartered Engineer (retired). Most recently was MD of Fine Tubes, Plymouth.  He has retired from full time executive roles to allow him to work with charitable organisations while continuing to work in business as a non-executive board member.

TONY PEARCE Head of Gill Akaster Solicitors' Contentious Trust and Probate Team with over 30 years experience in the legal profession. He is currently on the committee of the International Association of Maritime Security Professionals. He was formerly a Deputy District Judge (civil) on the South West circuit. He has recently embarked upon a study of Middle Eastern issues. Tony also spent some time in the Royal Marines during which time he qualified as a Naval Diver. 

CRAIG McLAREN Co-Founder and Director at Access Value Healthcare Services & Alumni Medical. Craig has worked in healthcare for 35 years, 25 years of which was with Johnson & Johnson.  

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