Meet the Trustees
Ups and Downs Southwest is run by our Trustees, a very dedicated group of volunteers with a real passion for what we do. Being Trustees they ensure the charity is well-run and the work carried out is in line with our charitable objectives. They also have an overview of our finances and ensure that we comply with the requirements of the Charity Commission.
While being a trustee carries responsibilities, it is also a fun and rewarding aspect of the charity to be involved in. If you would like to join us as a trustee, please contact Jo Thorn on 01278 691100
“I was a Primary School Teacher by training and have worked with young children for thirty years. I specialised in working with very young children and particularly in the teaching of literacy skills and the issues faced by those children who were challenged by the expectations created by the school.
I was a Primary School Headteacher in Somerset for ten years. With my colleagues, we built a small village school into a centre of excellence that supported all children including those who were disabled and those with challenging behaviour. As a teacher I am very aware that all children need the support of their families as they grow and learn, families are key for children’s safety and success and sometimes families need to be able to find excellent support.
I worked for the children’s charity Barnardo’s where I was a Children’s Service Manager for Somerset. This entailed looking after vulnerable children in projects as diverse as Domiciliary Support for Disabled Children, working with Children with Little or no Speech, working to support families who found that statutory services did not meet their needs and managing a cluster of Children’s Centres.
All of my projects were based on the belief that all children are entitled to the very best support we can offer, no matter what their ability or background.
Following my retirement two years ago I have never been so busy! I have two grown up children and two wonderful grandchildren. I am a keen theatre-goer and my husband, and I love modern jazz and visiting France.
I continue to work to advance the position of children and young people disabled by our society, and so I am very pleased to support Ups and Downs South West by joining the board of trustees. This Project is based on a firm belief that all children should receive the support they need to succeed and all families including those with a child with Down Syndrome should be supported to access their rights.
I am delighted and privileged to be a part of Ups and Downs South West and look forward to working alongside this professional and dedicated staff team.”
“I retired in 2010 after spending the final 24 years of my working life in the wholesale and regulatory side of banking. One of the primary responsibilities of the job was managing interest rates on the bank’s balance sheet and reporting to the FSA (now known as the FCA – Financial Conduct Authority).
Previously I had a post as an administrator for the MRC (Medical Research Council) working on the 1947 birth cohort study, which was the precursor to the creation of the NHS specifically the provision of free maternity services. I began my working career at Bristol Sidley Engines (later Rolls Royce Aero Engines) as an engineering assistant, analysing engine test results.
I feel privileged to be given this opportunity to work with Ups and Downs Southwest and hope to be able to bring some of my financial experience to them whilst learning more about the charity sector and children and young people who have Down Syndrome.”
“I moved from Latvia to the United Kingdom in 2006. I am a proud mother of two lovely daughters, and our older daughter has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome since birth. It was a hard time for the whole family to accept the fact and learn about the specifications of her condition. Ups and Downs Southwest made a great difference in our life; they’ve been with us since day one providing huge support and help when we needed it the most. I’ve made lots of sacrifices to dedicate all my time and support for my children and since then I’ve never stopped or reduced my duties, even opposite – increased volunteer activities, constantly learning something new, increasing social activities and communication, researching for more interesting facts – and most importantly I enjoy every bit of it and cannot imagine my life without it!
I often recall one episode: after birth and confirmation of my girl’s condition I could not stop crying, I thought our life never will be colourful again, and one nurse came to check on us. She said: “Why are you crying no-stop? You should be so lucky, remember, girl, special children choose special parents…” After some time I realised how right she was! Special children bring special meaning to our lives; they open our “blind” eyes, they fulfil the emptiness in our hearts, they make us refresh forgotten values such as compassion, mercy, humanity, heartiness, the concept of time, equality…
By profession, I am an economist and I have a Bachelor degree in Economics and Sociology. Back in Latvia, I’ve had a very interesting promising job, however, due to personal earlier mentioned circumstances I put my diploma and potential carrier aside. Currently, I am a part-time self-employed and provide domestic services and assistance. Since I’ve become a mother I’ve discovered many hidden abilities/ talents in me – crafting, crocheting, macramé, DIY, decorating, plastering, gardening… I did not betray my dream or carrier; I’ve just changed my path.
Ups and Downs (Southwest) does an important job and lots of families depend on its help and support. I am delighted about the opportunity to be a part of this great team and provide support to their indispensable important work.”
“After 20 years together, my partner and I had our first and only son in 2016 and we learned of his Down Syndrome diagnosis a few days after his birth. We didn’t know very much about Down Syndrome and we spent our first few months as a family navigating a lot of new information which thankfully, changed our preconceptions about the condition pretty fast! We are determined to make sure our son grows up in an inclusive environment and is not denied the opportunities and experiences that can be taken for granted for many typical children.
I first found out about Ups and Downs Southwest through social media. I attended a free ‘Communication for All’ training course run by the charity in late 2017 which was absolutely fantastic! It taught me the basis of sign supported speech, which I have been using with my son ever since. The training also helped me immensely in learning how to approach being, not just a parent, but also an advocate for my son. It was also the first time I met other parents of children with Down Syndrome.
I was surprised and delighted to be contacted by Ups and Downs Southwest in 2018 when they asked me to consider joining the Board of Trustees. I hope to offer both my experience so far as a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, and the skills I have gained from my professional career as an Environmental Manager for a national construction business. I still have a lot to learn but hope to bring a positive contribution to the great work done by this charity.”
“I am the Digital Transformation Manager for the Somerset Partnership and Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trusts. I have enjoyed a variety of roles within the Somerset mental health and social care trust for the past 26 years. I started my career at a rehabilitation home for adults and have managed specialist services such as Carers Support; Support, Time & Recovery; Forensic and Housing Support Teams. I have been involved with the commissioning of mental health services and have managed contracts for the trust. I especially enjoyed working with colleagues to create a number of innovative new mental health services for people of all ages. I am absolutely passionate about children, young people and adults living as full and independent a life as possible.
I have three grown-up children and a lovely teenage granddaughter. We all love the theatre, ballet, Italian food and live music. My husband and I enjoy cricket, going off in our caravan and walking the dogs.
I am thrilled to be part of Ups and Downs Southwest and being able to support the important work that they do across the region.”
“In 2012 my first Son Caiden was born with Down Syndrome; it all came as a big shock to the system and the scariest part was having next to no knowledge of it. We soon became aware that we had to seek out help to fully understand what was ahead of us as a family and for Caiden.
We found Ups and Downs Southwest through social media and started going to the amazing events set up at Bridgwater for Easter, the summer & Christmas, which gave us a greater understanding of what is to come through talking to the fantastic volunteers and parents.
In my spare time, I enjoy running & football (getting too old to play now though). In 2019 I managed to get a place at the New York City Marathon and raised nearly £400 for Ups and Downs. I have also managed to get a place at the 2021 London Marathon in October so I shall be again running to raise money for Ups and Downs Southwest.
I decided to join the Board of Trustees to give something back to the charity and put some skills and knowledge into it through my experience as a parent and my work as a Quality Engineer in the Aerospace industry.”