Council members

Meet the committed individuals that together drive the mission of the Health Food Institute

John Frisby


I had an early fascination with wholefoods (especially muesli!) and a quest for a natural way to treat digestive problems that I’d suffered in my teens – My health food business, “Food For Living” was created in 1977. My interest in nature cure blossomed and I have enjoyed 40 years in a wonderful industry.

My passion was extended when I was invited to join the Health Food Institute as a council member. I was honoured and proud to be asked to become the chairman of the Institute as I believe that training and knowledge are the cornerstone of our industry.

Ray Hill


I arrived in this trade in 1960 following a training in the practice of Nature Cure. The health food store being the obvious place to promulgate its principles, especially those relating to what we eat and drink. To offer organic, unprocessed food, nutritional supplements, herbal and homeopathic medicines to health store customers is a privilege and a pleasure.

In the late 1970’s I thought those people qualifying in the health food retail training deserved the status of a professional body to which they could belong. In 1979 this Institute was inaugurated and I have been here in one role or another ever since.

Tom Moses


Tom Moses has been a member of the HFI Council for 9 years, serving as the Treasurer to the Council.

Membership of the HFI underlines a continuing commitment to the industry in both practical and financial terms. Tom Moses is also a fellow of the Health Food Institute.

Tom Moses, Director, has over thirty years in the industry with Brewhurst, Desert Essence and recently with Natural Trade Brokers representing leading brands to the independent health trade, and brings a wealth of experience serving the trade. It started out as a job and very quickly became a vocation, making life-long friends from the a plethora of wonderful equally committed people in the trade.

Ruth Hawthorne

Council member

Ruth is General Sales Manager at Natural Trade Brokers, responsible for looking after nine Territory  Sales Managers, plus working with three sales people on behalf of Bee Health, Ruth is well known in the natural products sector and has over 30 years’ experience of working in a sales brokerage environment.

Dave Pollard

Council member

In my first profession I was a fully trained Savoy Hotel Chef, then a Food Sales Representative, calling on health shops.  This resulted, in 1988, in my wife and I purchasing a 250 sq. ft. health shop.  Within a couple of years we had moved to much bigger premises, eventually ending up with a 1,000 sq. ft. health shop.

I am very health conscious myself and I love being in an industry that continually innovates.  I really feel part of my community and have met a lot of great people, it’s never lonely!

Paula Tapley

Council member

Paula started her career in the health food trade in 1987, at top wholesaler, Brewhurst. She initially joined in a telesales role, fresh out of sixth form, and quickly got bitten by the industry bug. Over the next 12 years she undertook various sales and marketing roles within the fast-growing and successful company. Paula left in 1998 to work with Tom Moses and Ruth Hawthorne (also HFI Commitee Members) at Country Life/Desert Essence. She found the experience both educational and fun, travelling to the USA, and enjoying American business culture. In 2005, Paula found she needed to be more flexible so took the opportunity to pursue a self-employed career. Since then she has been working with a handful of fantastic independent companies and hence has time to dedicate to the HFI Committee. “I believe that education, training & support are the backbone of our health food stores and felt it was important to give something back to the industry that has shaped my work life, my finances, my diet – and a lot of my social life!”

Cheryl Thallon

Council member

Cheryl started working in health food stores when she was 21 and fell in love with the natural health movement. After a short career in children’s publishing, she became editor of Natural Food Trader magazine, visiting health business all over the world. Since then has worked within the nutritional supplement sector, forming her own business, Viridian Nutrition, in 1999. She is also co-director of Sheaf Street Health Store in Daventry, Northamptonshire with her husband, Shaun. “There is nothing more important than health, and a good, specialist health food store offers the caring and educated advice needed to develop a personalised programme of food, supplements and lifestyle choices. I am honoured to serve on the HFI committee, as education is the solid foundation of the natural health movement.”

Alison Collingwood


With a degree in Biology and a strong interest in natural health, nutritional therapy and herbal medicine, Alison started in the health food industry in 1994 working alongside Kell Sainsbury at the Health Food Training School in Nottingham.  Being immediately inspired and enthused with Kell’s passion for natural health, for health food retailing and the positive role of training and education in the industry, what started as a temporary part-time post turned into the full time position of Administrator of the Health Food Training School and later the Health Food Institute. Over the past 23 years she has helped to develop HFI training and provided her own brand of enthusiastic and friendly help and guidance to hundreds of students taking HFI training courses in independent health food shops across the UK and in Ireland.  In her spare time Alison is a keen organic gardener, dabbles with making her own herbal remedies and cosmetics, and loves to cook for family and friends.

To strengthen the gravitas and influence of the specialist health food sector through excellence in education