Our Trustees and Patrons
Since our foundation and charity registration in 2005, Swings & Smiles has relied on a wealth of voluntary talent – people whose dedication and commitment have seen us to the point we are at today, open for business and meeting an immediate need yet positioned to build on this foundation to meet our longer-term aims. Our ‘volunteer army’ is led by the following:
Richard Benyon MP
Richard Benyon has been Member of Parliament for Newbury since 2005. Prior to that, he managed his family business in West Berkshire at Englefield. A former soldier, Richard later became a Chartered Surveyor and was a member of Newbury District Council in the 1990s. He has been active in support of a number of local organisations, including the Citizens Advice Bureau. He was one of the founding Trustees of Help for Heroes.
Mary Cameron has been a patron of Swings & Smiles for 6 years. Mary is well respected locally having lived in Peasemore since 1968 with her husband Ian and 4 children: Alex, Tania, David (formerly Prime Minister) and Claire. Sadly, Ian passed away a few years ago. She also has 10 grandchildren who keep her very busy. Mary has led a very full and varied life having been a Justice of the Peace for 30 years, a Church Warden, on the committee of the Newbury Spring Festival since its inception and Deputy Lieutenant of Berkshire. Her main hobby is gardening. She is passionate about Swings & Smiles and understands why it’s so important as her late grandson, Ivan, was born profoundly disabled.
Graeme, the former Reading, Southampton and Scotland full back, who is now Head Development Squad Coach at Rangers, is well known for his sense of the importance of community involvement and is actively involved in promoting Swings & Smiles through the local media.
'That Swings & Smiles is going to impact upon the Thames Valley area in such a positive manner reflects fantastically upon those people whose dedication and vision are bringing the dream to fruition. To be asked to be a patron of such a wonderful charity is a source of great pride to me. It is also a reminder that sometimes needing something and campaigning for it is not enough, there are times when direct action is essential. That is why working with Swings & Smiles is so gratifying as those people who saw the need for our facility got up and are making it happen. To work alongside such a focused team is a humbling yet empowering sensation as they strive towards our goal. That is why I could not ignore Swings & Smiles when they asked me to help, I hope they get the same response from thousands more people. They truly deserve huge support and praise.'
Chris Tarrant became a Patron in January 2015 and commented; 'As a Berkshire boy raised and still living in this lovely part of the country, I'm really thrilled to have to become a patron of Swings and Smiles. I think the work they do for kids with special needs and their families in this area is really impressive and I'm looking forward to helping in any way I can.'
Sian has considerable experience of working with local charities and has led several successful campaigns to maintain and improve local provision for disabled children. Sian is a cookery writer and tutor. Her youngest daughter Amy, who is profoundly disabled, was her inspiration for creating Swings & Smiles.
Luisa is an experienced business leader whose career spans the Defence, Security, Public and Not-for-Profit Sectors. She has held a number of senior management positions and led large multi-disciplinary teams in both the UK and the USA. She is incredibly passionate about helping people to achieve their full potential, and is currently a performance coach with K2. She became involved with Swings and Smiles in the Autumn 2010 and has taken part in a number of fundraising activities for the charity such as the Reading Half Marathon and most recently the Cotswolds Way 100 mile challenge. She became a Trustee at the start of 2015 and volunteers as a play helper at the centre once a month.
Andrew is the Managing Director of The Vineyard at Stockcross, Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa, Donnington Valley Golf Club and the independent wine merchant, The Vineyard Cellars. He also oversees the company’s managed hotel business which currently looks after six provincial 4 star hotels under the Sonoma Hotel banner. He is very active in the local community – a former director of West Berkshire Mencap and Corn Exchange Theatre, and is currently a committee member of Newbury Spring Festival fund raising committee and a member of Newbury’s Wharf steering group.
I’m lucky. I don’t have the problems of looking after a family and a SEN child. That’s driven me to support Swings & Smiles and now we are off and running with a great team and some pretty special facilities at The Phoenix Resource Centre. A new purpose-built facility is still our goal and we will make this happen; trust us. Our SEN children and families are special to us – please help if you can.
Helen has worked in the design industry for over 30 years and is a director of Cream Design who specialise in corporate identity, literature and digital design for large and small businesses, charities and organisations.
Julie has over 10 years IT experience in the Telecommunications industry, and more recently became a self-employed IT Project Manager. She has managed and led a number of key initiatives, projects and teams to deliver company’s objectives. Julie has two young children and during her ‘time off’ from full-time working she is very involved with Swings & Smiles. She became a trustee in May 2012.
Simon is a solicitor specialising in Employment Law and is a partner at Constantine Law. He is very active in the local voluntary scene having been at various times on the governing bodies of Newbury College, Cheam School, The Corn Exchange, The Watermill Theatre, Newbury Operatic Society and the Newbury Spring Festival.
Simon is passionate about allowing people the opportunity to thrive, whatever that means to them and however they want to express it. To Simon this means good governance, a sound structure and then getting out of the way. He believes that children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way.
Tor has been Development Manager at Swings & Smiles since July 2011. Prior to this she worked in the marketing and PR industry for over 15 years and ran her own food and drink PR agency during this time. She managed many successful campaigns and events for well-known companies. Tor is married with three children and her eldest child has special needs.
Derek is an IT professional, with 37 years’ experience in the industry. He is the Director of Governance Systems for Fujitsu UK & Ireland, one of Europe’s leading IT Services Companies. He is a Member of the British Computer Society and a Director of Intellect, the UK IT trade association.
Olivia has over 15 years experience of working in the charitable sector and specializes in HR. She offers advice to a number of charities (both in the UK and internationally) and is a passionate advocate for developing people in order to transform organisations.
Born in Berkshire, Katy spent 15 years living in Kenya, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and latterly America with her husband and sons before settling in Newbury. For 7 years she was the voluntary fundraising Chairman for West Berkshire for Naomi House Children’s Hospice raising it’s profile and considerable amounts of revenue. She is now a Vice President of the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, President of Soroptimist International Newbury & District and an active fundraiser/volunteer with Swings & Smiles.
Tom is a design consultant and qualified Architect at Sutton Griffin Architects, with a broad range of experience in both commercial and private residential projects. He is based in Newbury and the French Alps, and loves to juggle his time between all things design, the great outdoors and passing on his experience of both via teaching. A keen endurance athlete and fundraiser for Swings & Smiles. He hopes his ethos of promoting an enhanced quality of life through design will develop a fun space for families to enjoy together in the future.
Jan recognised the need for sibling support, whilst working as a Paediatric Palliative care nurse at a local children’s hospice. This led to her setting up a service as a sibling support worker. Jan is now working with Swings & Smiles, developing support for siblings of disabled children.