Ups and Downs Southwest is run by our Trustees; they are very dedicated volunteers with a real passion for what we do. Being Trustees they ensure the charity is well-run; that the work we do is in line with our charitable objectives; that our finances are healthy; and that we comply with the requirements of the Charity Commission.


While being a trustee carries responsibilities, it is also a fun and rewarding thing to be involved with, if you would like to join us as a trustee, please contact Jo Thorn on 01278 691100

Sue Dennis

Sue Dennis - Chair - Ups and Downs

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.

John Shipley

John Shipley - Treasurer - Ups and Downs

He has worked in housing, care and support and the charity and not-for-profit sector for over 30 years. This has included, over the years, working with organisations specialising in working with people with mental health problems, with young adults with learning difficulties and – for much of his career – with the single homeless and rough sleepers.

John moved from London to Somerset in 2008 when he was appointed Chief Executive of a local Charity, Taunton Association for the Homeless. For the last two years, he has been Operations Director (People) at SHAL Housing, a housing association based in Bridgwater but working across Somerset.

He joined Ups and Downs as a Trustee in 2016 and is currently our Treasurer.

Adrian Farris
Parent Trustee

Adrian Farris - Trustee - Ups and Downs

I have spent many years as a director of sales and marketing within the hotel industry working with and developing large international brands at national commercial level. It was not until our daughter Rosie was born though that our lives were completely turned around for the better. Our little girl has taught us to be passionate about what we do, and that family really does come first.

Subsequently, I now have a career as a professional photographer which was always my passion, and when I’m not doing that, I am a team building and event manager, instructing people in anything from tank driving to psychometric testing. Best of all though I now have more time to spend with my family doing things that a Dad should be doing.

Ups and Downs have always been there to provide support and an invaluable depth of knowledge to us as a family whenever we have needed it and has also introduced us to a whole community of families in a similar position to us. Some of these families have become life long friends.

We have not always needed Ups and Downs as they have given us the tools and knowledge to be confident in our decisions for Rosie however, it is so reassuring to know that they are always there and have our backs whenever we need help or support. It is for this reason that I decided to be a trustee for Ups and Downs and help ensure that many more families will benefit from their support and the sense of community that is within this big family.

Dr Sarah Kelly

I have lived in Somerset for 30 years, having moved from London when my elder son was a toddler. I was a paediatrician based at Musgrove Park Hospital until I retired in 2014. I worked mainly with children who had learning and developmental problems as well as with looked after and adopted children. I think I learnt as much about child development and behaviour from the families and children that I met during my career as I did from books and colleagues.

Once I retired, I realised that one of the things I missed about work was the opportunity to get to know and spend time with children. I have studied to become a therapeutic play worker which I find very enjoyable, although rather tough on the knees! I also read the story at my local library’s toddler time. This allows me to discover lots of new children’s books as well as re-read old favourites, some of them dating back to my own childhood.

I am also enjoying the fact that I now have more energy to continue doing other things; travelling, theatre and opera, and even the occasional spot of gardening when I feel energetic. I have also discovered that I can’t find any more time to do housework than I did when I worked full time!