Deborah Means – Chair

Deborah became a trustee at Carers Support Centre in 2013 and has been chair since December 2016. She has a particular interest in the importance of effective governance and the strategic running of organisations.

Her background is in teaching with an emphasis on special needs and disabilities. She knows the demands of both parent carers and young carers and the strains that this can put on families. Her last post was Deputy Head of a school for children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Autism. She has also been a school governor.

She was a carer for her late mother for a number of years. Her mother did not live nearby and did not wish to move. Deborah can fully appreciate the pressures and difficulties of caring for a loved one from a distance.

When she considered becoming a trustee in the voluntary sector she was attracted to Carers Support Centre. Being a trustee of the organisation is proving to be very rewarding and enjoyable. It’s something that she would thoroughly recommend.

Heather Thomas – Vice Chair

Heather is a full time carer for her husband, Robin who has Huntington’s Disease. This is how she became involved with Carers Support Centre.

She feels passionately that carers get as much help and support as they can and to this end got involved with the fundraising side of Carers Support Centre.

In her professional and private life she has taken on responsibilities, such as setting up a number of forums; UWE’s Community Forum; Great Western Trains Pathfinders Network; Avon & Somerset Student Crime Reduction Forum, to names just 3. She was overall responsible for the work of these groups and all the outcomes that were implemented.

Having held the position of National Chair of the Huntington’s disease association previously, she is use to managing budgets of £1 million plus.

Throughout her career she has had to show a high level of integrity with regard to personnel and financial issues, which she brings to Carers Support Centre as a trustee.

Andy Bell – Treasurer

Andy is a career civil servant of 35 years standing, with the last 20 of those spent in project finance, budget management, financial accounting and more recently as a VAT specialist. He qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant in 2014.

In addition to his role with Carers Support Centre, he has been the Chair of BREAD Youth Project in Lawrence Weston. His ongoing positive experience there led him to seek out a complementary trustee opportunity.

Memories of watching his Aunt caring for his Nan and Uncle, with varying levels of support, attracted him to the very worthy cause that is Carers Support Centre. My time with the Carers Support Centre to date has been hugely rewarding.

Wendy Gregory – Trustee

Wendy is a strategic marketing, advertising and business development specialist and joined Carers Support Centre as a Trustee in 2013. Although she has spent all her working life in the private sector working in, and for, large organisations as well as SME’s, she has spent over 8 years working voluntarily within the health sector.

She has worked at board level when full-time and as a consultant, both regionally and nationally. Her clients have varied from Barclays Bank, British Telecom, Weston-super-Mare Tourism to Weston Hospital and Bristol City Council.

She has completed 3 terms of office as a Governor of the University Hospitals Foundation Trust (8 years) representing a constituency of patients and carers over 16, and has a disabled daughter. She has considerable caring experience of all ages, geriatric, teenage and adult and it is an area she cares passionately about.

In addition to this, she has recently been appointed as a magistrate, sitting in Bristol, Bath and Weston-super-Mare.

Her main skills are in strategic thinking, clear communication, client servicing and project management.

Bryan Daly – Trustee

Bryan is retired having worked for HSBC Bank plc for 22 years.

He first became involved with Carers Support Centre around 10 years ago when he joined the lottery to support young carers who do an amazing and often unnoticed, thankless but such an important duty.

4 years ago he retired and contacted The Vassall Centre and became a volunteer fundraiser. More recently he accepted the invitation to become a trustee where I hope to make a continued, if different, contribution to this remarkable charity by utilising some of the business expertise he gained from his 22 years at HSBC Bank.

Having cared for his very ill mother for what was in reality only a very short time, he quickly realised how important it is to have a break from the caring role.

His overriding motivation is to help the organisation, continue to support the growing need of carers of all ages, but in particular young carers who in his mind have their childhoods stolen away from them.

Mary Whittington – Trustee

A retired Architect and Project Manager, Mary has spent the last 20 years working in the private sector, working in partnership with the NHS and other healthcare providers, supporting them to improve the patient experience and generate savings.

She will apply her experience in project management, business development and strategic thinking to the Board of Trustees.

Mary has lived in Bristol for over 35 years and is also an active member of Rotary, involved in community projects and charity fundraising.

Louise Manley – Trustee

Louise has a background in health, social policy and public involvement. Her most recent role for the past 8 years was as the Head of Patient and Public Involvement for South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group. This experience has given her an invaluable insight into how local health services are commissioned and the importance of partnership working.

Her passion has always been to ensure that everyone’s views are heard and taken into account in decisions which impact on them. She feels this is particularly important for carers whose views and concerns can sometimes be overlooked. She hopes to be able to bring my considerable experience in public involvement to Carers Support Centre to genuinely improve the lives of carers in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area. She has grown up in Bristol, which combined with her work experience gives her a passion and an excellent knowledge of the local area.

She has first-hand experience of being a carer. She is passionate about supporting carers and ensuring that the views and experiences of carers help shape the support, information and advice appropriate to their needs. She believes the work of Carers Support Centre is crucial to securing better outcomes for carers and those who they care for and hopes she will be able to contribute positively to this in her role as trustee.

Diane Jenkins – Trustee

Diane has worked both in the private and public sector and was a non-teaching staff Union Representative for many years. Diane has also been a governor of two local schools, including one elected post and one as a Local Authority appointment and been an election agent and a delegate to political conference, where she shared a dance with Nelson Mandela.

Diane has first-hand experience of caring over a long period. Initially for her mother who had a chronic, life limiting illness and her father who was physically disabled and complex multiple health issues. These responsibilities led to her having to leave paid employment. Eventually following the death of her mother and her father’s physical deterioration and his development of Diffuse Lewy Body (a form of aggressive dementia) Diane was referred to the Carers Support Centre. She says that at the time she was in despair and totally overwhelmed following many years of caring without any advice or support.

Being informed that she, as a carer, had certain rights and was entitled to a carer’s assessment, and being listened to and supported was a turning point. She gained access to much needed respite. This, amongst other things, enabled her to continue caring. She had also now become a carer for her husband, who has COPD and depression.

The help she had received from Carers Support Centre encouraged Diane to volunteer with the organisation in the hope of helping other carers. She became a carer representative on both Bristol Carers Voice and the Older People’s Partnership Board. She was involved in producing the Carers Strategy and also a member of the Carers Strategy Implementation Group. She has worked closely with, amongst other organisations, Adult Social Care and the Clinical Commissioning Group. She has met many other carers with differing caring stories and needs and regards carers as being unsung heroes.

Diane now intends to put her continuing experiences and insight to bear in her role as a Trustee at the Carers Support Centre. Diane is very aware of the changing and challenging environment for carers and the charities that support them. Diane said “The need for a financially sustainable charity, that is relevant and fit for purpose has never been more essential and necessary. We must be an organisation that can continue to support carers in the way carers have told us they want and which they deserve.”