About Us

Fruit Fly Collective has a small core team of scientists and artists who collaborate with a range of people from other sectors, depending on the project being delivered and the expertise required.

Our collaborators include scientific researchers, visual artists, medics, photographers, academics, nurses, animators, clinical psychologists, theatre set designers, science communicators, schools, actors, counsellors, parents, families, textile designers, public health workers, app developers, local government workers, youth groups, communities, children and young people.

Our Aim

To provide evidence-based practical solutions to problems that primarily surround the communication and understanding of health, using creative practices.

In 2013 we began running a science and art course in a primary school, using puppetry to teach 10 year olds about the immune system and vaccination. We realised that we wanted to do more challenging work which would have a greater impact on those who would benefit from it. After much research we decided that we wanted to support families who are affected by cancer by increasing both the child’s and their carer’s understanding of the disease. We quickly received both support and funding for this project, and since then it has evolved into a movement where a positive change in clinical practices is possible.

We now work with schools, hospital trusts, charity communities and local authorities, and have broadened our work to explore resilience building and mental health education for children.

Our future objective is to continue to support the groups we are working with by finding new methods of creative intervention, as well as looking at how our society can be changed to support them to a greater degree.

Listening to children and families talk about the positive impact our products and services have had on them, during difficult periods of their lives, is an incredible reward and fuels our drive for success.

Dr Caroline Leek

Dr Caroline Leek



Caroline is the founder of Fruit Fly Collective. Her background is in scientific research in neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Shortly before her 13th birthday, her dad was diagnosed with cancer and died three months later. She never received any support, and as a consequence has struggled with prolonged periods of grief throughout adulthood.

Caroline has recently become a RSA Fellow. The mission of the RSA is to enrich society through ideas and action, and she hopes to be both inspired by the progressive work of other RSA members as well as sharing Fruit Fly Collective’s work and learning.

Dr Jacqueline Coleman

Dr Jacqueline Coleman



Jackie is a histopathologist. She works both in hospitals, diagnosing diseases, and at the Barts Cancer institution researching cancer tumour microenvironments as part of the CanBuild project.

She is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) ambassador for the Centre of The Cell which is an advocacy role for making science education at school more engaging and relevant.  She has won the prestigious Furness Prize for science communication from the Royal College of Pathology.

Furness Prize Interview: https://soundcloud.com/rcpath/interview-with-dr-jacqueline-mcdermott

CanBuild Project

Stem ambassador – http://www.stemnet.org.uk/

Daphne Vanden Borre

Daphne Vanden Borre

Graphic Designer

Daphne is Fruit Fly Collective’s graphic designer. She is also the Creative Director for both Time and Fortune magazines across the British Isles, EMEA and Asia.

She has worked all over Europe, producing innovative projects for advertising agencies, as well as multiple high-end magazines, but her passions are spending time with her children whilst creating and exploring visual ideas and concepts.

Emma Swinhoe

Emma Swinhoe


Emma is the illustrator for Fruit Fly Collective. She graduated from London College of communication, University of the Arts in 2008, with a degree in illustration.

Previously she worked within the NHS as a mental health nurse.


Izzy Warren

Izzy Warren


As well as being Dr Caroline’s curious sidekick, Izzy is a local primary school teacher.  Having created and implemented very successful whole-school personal and health education programmes and inclusion strategies, she understands the importance of empowering children by allowing them ownership of issues in their world.  She is delighted to be part of Fruit Fly Collective’s ground-breaking work in cancer education.

The Artists

Lucy Wallace


Lucy has been a professional photographer for almost 10 years, and has a background in complimentary therapies, yoga, and dance. She has been Fruit Fly Collective’s resident photographer since the beginning. Having had her own chronic illnesses to live with, and following much personal counselling and medical support, Lucy has embarked on a counselling course.

See more of Lucy’s work

Janet Gilbert

Textile Artist

Janet is a textile artist, and has experience both in the fashion industry, and as a teacher in further education. Her work and exhibitions are mainly concerned with textile printing, layering and stitch. She enjoys the challenges of creating and developing Fruit Fly Collective. See more of Janet’s work s textile pieces for all the projects completed so far.

Elizabeth Murton


Elizabeth is an artist interested in materials, ideas and connections across disciplines. She often works with installation and re-purposes textile processes such as fibres warping and connecting a space (Between Materials and Mechanisms 2016) using tin cans as giant beads (Can, 2010), or weaving sculptures with paper or tent poles (The Playing Frame, 2006; Indevelopment, 2007; Role, 2013) She engages with external agents, be that specialists, participants of all ages, and cross-disciplinary ideas. Commissions have included University of Hertfordshire, Crafts Council, Deptford X and Historic Royal Palaces.

See more of Elizabeth’s work


Dr Sue Gessler
Consultant Clinical Psycho-oncologist at UCLH.

Dr Lesley Howells
Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Maggie’s Centre Head Dundee.

Dr Elizabeth McDermott
Senior Lecturer in Health Policy at Lancaster University, specialising in the mental health of LGBT young people.

Dr Fiona Piennar
Director of Clinical Services at the Place2Be.

Mairead Griffins
Director of Nursing for Cancer and End of Life care Services within Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Jody Spargo
Family counsellor at St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, London.

Nikki Morris
Director of Operations and Deputy CEO Big C charity in Norfolk.

Jan Shadick
Executive Principal of Lambeth Academy, London.

Julie Baker
Lead Macmillan nurse at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust

Peter Southern
Palliative Care Social Worker, Barts Cancer Centre Palliative Care Team, Barts and The London NHS Trust


Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity

Wellcome Trust


Arts Council England

Comic Relief

Big Lottery

Community Development

Edward Harvist Trust

Cicely Northcote Trust

Big C Charity