Our trustees

Sense is governed by our council of trustees. Their primary purpose is to promote Sense, uphold our vision, protect our assets and funds, and ensure that we comply with legislation and regulation.

Our executive team manages Sense on a day-to-day basis and their details can be found on Our executives page. We currently have 13 trustees and their brief biographies appear below.

John Crabtree OBE D.Univ - Sense Chair

John CrabtreeJohn was senior partner of Wragge & Co for 12 years during which time the Birmingham legal firm developed into a major international practice. He was UK Lawyer of the Year in 2003 and voted West Midlands Businessman of the Year in 2004. He was awarded an OBE in 2007 and in 2010 received an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University.

Following his retirement from Wragges in 2004 he developed further interests in business and charity. John has been instrumental in raising more than £5 million for Sense, much of it through annual treks. Other charity involvement includes being chairman of Birmingham Hippodrome, the country’s most popular theatre. He is also chair of two quoted companies and several private enterprises. John is Her Majesty the Queen’s Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands. He was previously the Deputy Lieutenant and a former High Sheriff.

Gillian Wood - Vice Chair

Gillian WoodGillian has been a trustee of Sense since 1996, with breaks in 2005 and 2013. She has been involved in many aspects of the organisation, including fundraising and public policy and has been a member of various governance committees, continuing as a co-opted member of Finance (sub) Committee in 2014.

A parent of a deafblind young man, Gillian has combined her knowledge of acquired deafblindness and personal experience of congenital deafblindness, and uses this when talking to politicians, business people, service providers and the public to influence and motivate political, financial and practical support for Sense.

Gillian has held management roles in sales and customer services, supported students with disabilities and worked as project manager for a design company. She now supports her husband in his health and safety consultancy and works for a not-for-profit health insurance company.

Nicholas Keegan - Honorary Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee

Nicholas KeeganNick is a chartered accountant, and since qualifying with Price Waterhouse Coopers has spent the last 30 years in finance and business. He spent 10 years as an investment banker in the City of London and has subsequently been finance director of a number of quoted and unquoted UK-based companies, most recently as chief financial officer of a multi-national engineering group. He is also an experienced non-executive director. He is a school governor and lives near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.

Simon ArmstrongSimon Armstrong

Simon is managing partner at Saltus Investment Managers, a private client wealth management company, with offices in London, Manchester & Chichester. Before founding Saltus a decade ago, Simon spent 11 years at Goldman Sachs in their equities division, in London, New York & Hong Kong. Simon also has a law degree. He lives in West Sussex with his wife and three young sons.

Natalie Assad

Natalie AssadNatalie was first inspired to be involved with Sense because her youngest sister is deafblind. She has seen how Sense works to support deafblind people and their families at firsthand. She is deeply committed to Sense's work and particularly from her experience, the support provided to young siblings.

Natalie works for the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth, where she fundraises for work to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. Prior to this she had a range of roles within Sense where she worked as a fundraiser for four years. She previously worked directly with deafblind people and their families when she worked on our Holidays Team and has volunteered to support deafblind children and siblings at our family days.

Ashling Barvé Ashling Barvé

Ashling has a deafblind daughter and her family have been involved with Sense for over 10 years.

She has attended many Sense functions including family days, parliamentary presentations and fundraising events, and has addressed audiences from a parental perspective.

Ashling was co-chair of a joint commissioning group in South-west London for two years and was very involved in the implementation of the SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) reforms within the local authority.

She has also been an Independent Supporter, providing advice, information and support to parents and helping them to gain a better understanding of their rights and entitlements under the Children and Families Act.

Graham Callister

Graham Callister

Graham is Director of Creative Programmes at the Birmingham Hippodrome, which is an independent, not-for-profit registered charity, and one of the UK’s busiest theatres averaging over 500,000 visits per annum.

Graham oversees all Hippodrome creative activity, from major city festivals to unique events, to work with local schools and vulnerable children and young people. Over the past three years the Hippodrome has reached over 300,000 people through the delivery of major outdoor arts festivals and events.

Graham has been working in the UK cultural sector for nearly 20 years on a diverse range of national and international projects including major capital projects, delivery of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and EU funded projects, heritage regeneration, tourism and creative industries initiatives.

His appointment as a Trustee brings expert experience to the Council which is committed to Sense’s ongoing Arts and Wellbeing Programme.

Mythily KatsarisMythily Katsaris

Mythily is a solicitor and is a partner at Fladgate in London, one of the UK’s top 100 law firms.

Mythily was first introduced to the work of Sense International in India in 2008 and has been involved ever since, learning a lot about Sense and Sense International in the intervening years.

She has organised several awareness and fundraising events in India and through her work with Sense International India has developed a keen awareness of the abilities and needs of deafblind people. 

Benedict LeighBenedict Leigh

Benedict is Deputy Director for Joint Commissioning for Oxfordshire County Council where he is responsible for commissioning social care, in the context of a complex financial environment. He works with other partners such as the NHS, private, community and voluntary sector service providers to provide the best possible services.

Benedict was previously CEO of Restore, a mental health charity, for 12 years, and has also been a trustee of two other organisations in Oxfordshire.

He worked for Sense as Head of Campaigns and Public Policy from 2000 to 2002 and has continued his association, working as a volunteer leader on the holidays programme for more than 15 years.

Benedict strongly believes in the importance of the voice of disabled people being heard and is passionate about ensuring a strong voluntary sector role in providing services for people with dual sensory impairments and those with complex needs.

Des Lucy

Des LucyDes worked in the railway industry for over 30 years, in rolling stock engineering, managing day-to-day and long-term scheduled maintenance. He held several management positions, and retired in 2010 due to deterioration of his sight. Des has Usher syndrome and has been a member of Sense for over twenty years and is passionate about supporting other members and encouraging social engagement. He has been a committee member for the Hearing and Sight Impaired (NSI) UK South, national branch of Sense since the late 90s and is currently its chair. He was co-opted as a Trustee in January 2014.

Jim McManus

Jim McManusJim worked for 35 years for the Northern Ireland Court Service, holding a number of senior operational posts and in 2007 was appointed Supreme Court Administrator. He led an extensive modernisation programme that focused on customer service excellence and staff development and as a result received a number of business awards, including the Mark of Excellence from the NI Quality Awards sponsored by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

As a parent of a deafblind child, Jim joined a small group of parents who lobbied for the establishment of Sense in Northern Ireland as there were no local services.  Following success with the campaign and ongoing involvement in organisation he was appointed Chairman of the NI Board of Trustees at the end of 2009.

Dr Justin Molloy

Dr Justin MolloyJustin is a Senior Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute in London. Over the past 30 years, he has worked in diverse areas of basic biomedical research including how our muscles convert chemical energy into mechanical movement and how our ears convert sound energy into the signals our brains can understand. He is best known for his work using laser-based optical methods to study single biological molecules. Justin serves on national and international scientific review bodies, granting agencies and learned societies.

David Reeves

David ReevesDavid is a technology and marketing specialist with almost 40 years’ experience in the UK and internationally. His experience includes 15 years in senior management positions with Sony following a series of successful roles in the marketing sector. He was president and CEO of Sony PlayStation in London for six years, overseeing a turnover of over £3 billion. He is currently a Trustee for Autistica (UK) as well as Senior Independent Director of Keywords International, PLC, RED Entertainment (Dubai), Consultant at the Quantic Group and an accredited Growth Accelerator Coach for UK Companies. David is fluent in German, Japanese and French and holds an MBA in Marketing as well as a PhD in Chemical Physics.

Roy Staines

Roy StainesRoy has Usher syndrome. He retired from a lifetime career in IT involving mainframe computer applications. He worked up to senior positions in private sector companies in a range of business areas embracing insurance broking, grocery retailing, toy manufacturing and distribution, marketing and banking.

He has been a member of Sense since the early 80s when Sense started its first Usher syndrome project and has been involved with a number of groups in a variety of roles since then. For the past 30 years, Roy has undertaken voluntary campaigning on consumer and technology issues for deaf and deafblind people, and he currently represents Sense in a number of stakeholder groups.

Duncan Tannahill

Duncan TannahillDuncan works with the small-to-medium enterprise sector, coaching and mentoring business owners to help them to fulfill their potential. This follows a career in a range of organisations and taking two technology start-up businesses from concept to reality.

As chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, he was responsible for introducing major change to the organisation’s culture and customer relationships as well as the development of new products and services to support the business community. Duncan has served as chair and board member on a number of organisations related to business and economic growth, and his contribution to Glasgow was recognized by the City who awarded him their inaugural ‘Medal for Enterprise’. Duncan is also a member of the Council of Sense Scotland.

Sue Turner

Sue TurnerSue was a founder of the Kent Branch of Sense and was its chair until 2013. She has also been a Sense parent trustee at times since 1993. Sue has ten years’ experience as a non-executive director for the local health trust for learning disabilities and mental health, and has acted as a Mental Health Act manager. She was also a voluntary advisor at the Citizens Advice Bureau for eight years. Sue has campaigned locally for the rights of deafblind people, in particular sitting on a Kent County Council panel in order to write a county-wide strategy for deafblind people. She is also a member of the board of Sense International and of Sense’s Quality Board which oversees the quality of the services provided by Sense. 





First published: Friday 23 March 2012
Updated: Tuesday 14 November 2017