As a registered charity, Aspens is governed by a Trustee Board who give their time and expertise voluntarily. The Trustees have overall responsibility for the legal, strategic and financial health of the charity, and act as the ultimate decision-making body. All Trustees are accountable for the decisions they make individually and collectively.
Discover more about each of our Trustees and why they volunteer for Aspens:
Chair of Trustees
Gill spent most of her career as a lawyer within the corporate world working for Camelot, the National Lottery operator. From there, she went on to Cancer Research UK. After some years she decided to take her passion for the not-for-profit sector into a voluntary role that was closer to home in Brighton, East Sussex.
Chairing Aspens has given Gill the opportunity to put her professional skills to good use whilst at the same time giving her a sense of purpose. Having seen Aspens get off to an exciting start Gill is looking forward to being a part of the charity as it grows and develops.
Mark has been a Chartered Certified Accountant for 20 years, and has a total of 28 years’ accountancy experience. In 2012, he was diagnosed with having Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism. On his journey in finding out more about the condition, he found out that there was not much awareness of the condition around, so he decided to do what he could to change this. Since 2012, in addition to accountancy, he has been lecturing about Autism Awareness. Mark has lectured at Sussex University, Brighton University, Sussex Police, Brighton and Hove Albion, as well as many other smaller organisations.
Mark is pleased to be part of Aspens as it’s a charity that recognises the value that having somebody with autism on its Board of Trustees brings.
Having grown up in Tunbridge Wells, Anne returned to the area around ten years ago. She is currently Clerk to the Governors at two local primary schools, but in the past has worked for a firm of commercial surveyors, two large housing associations and a local authority.
Anne joins Aspens with extensive experience as a Trustee. She has been Chair of Trustees at a small housing association in South London and at Advocacy for All (who support people with learning disabilities across the South East). She joined the Pepenbury Board in 2014 where she has led the Service User Involvement Group. Anne passionately believes that the people we support should have a say, both on the services we provide for them and on how they want to live their own lives.
Ian has a background in engineering, working on aircraft design and production as well as spending 24 years in the military. He then joined an office solutions company before retiring in 2006.
He has been involved in the not-for-profit sector since 1990, when he founded a charity and also took on his first Trustee role. The charity provided residential and outreach services for people with Autism in Bexley, Kent. This charity merged with Pepenbury in 2011 and Ian continued to serve as a Trustee, as he does today with Aspens following Pepenbury’s merger with Autism Sussex. Ian also has a further personal connection with Aspens as the charity supports his daughter, who is autistic, to live independently within a local community.
Nora spent 19 years’ working with local government where she focused on supporting strategic partnerships, working with senior management teams to deliver priorities as well as delivering research and consultation. Now Nora supports academics to realise the benefit of their research through one to one mentoring and developing partnerships with external organisations.
Nora is a proud mum to a 13-year-old autistic son who is high functioning, working his way through main stream education. She is very aware of the challenges he faces day to day when making friends, going to school, fitting into the family, and being part of the community.
Being an Aspens Trustee provides Nora with an opportunity to use her experiences and knowledge to improve the quality of the care and support we can give autistic people and others with additional needs. She is dedicated to helping them to find their place in the world and to help others understand the role they can play within communities.
Peter decided to get involved with Aspens as he too could recognise the need for Autism Sussex and Pepenbury to come together as one organisation to gain the size and strength needed to compete in economically difficult times. Peter’s son is resident within an Aspens service so being an Aspens Trustee also provides Peter with the opportunity to give something back to the cause that he and so many others benefit from.
Peter’s career in specialist Forensic and Legal Medicine has given him insights into care quality, multi-agency working and governance that are an asset to the Aspens Board. An area for focus for Peter when it comes to his Trustee role is helping to ensure that Aspens can recruit, retain and develop the best possible staff to ensure that its service users have the chance to build stable and supportive relationships
Steph is proud to be an Aspens Trustee. She is particularly excited to be a part of Aspens’ story from the start – working to bring the organisation to life from the strongest possible foundation that is the combined force of Autism Sussex and Pepenbury.
To the Aspens Board of Trustees, Steph bring 15 years’ marketing experience from the not-for-profit sector. The majority of her experience has been within charities that empower people with disabilities and their families – a cause that she is passionate about and one that is at Aspens’ heart. Steph is committed to sharing her skills and expertise, and working together with all those connected to Aspens to help ensure that the organisation enables those who it exists to support to reach their full potential.
Ray is a former senior banker and barrister, having worked for leading international banks over a lengthy career in the financial sector. He has developed sound business, management and financial skills which he hopes to apply in his roles with Aspens.
Ray is passionate about helping those in our communities who have learning and autistic spectrum disabilities. He has over ten years’ board experience with organisations caring for children and adults with learning disabilities, principally in a finance, risk and strategy capacity. He is currently also Treasurer and a board member of Surrey Crossroads, a carer organisation. He lives with his wife, Margaret, in Tunbridge Wells and has a son Andrew, who attends Aspens’ Day Services and a daughter Megan, an architect in London.
Tom B Stevens JP
Tom is a Justice of the Peace and served as a Kent Magistrate for 18 yrs, chair taker in the criminal court for over 15yrs. Sat in the Crown court on appeal hearings with a crown court judge. He served as a member of the Independent Monitoring Board of local prisons. Previous Director/Trustee at Pepenbury where he chaired their Property Committee. He served as vice chair of the Tunbridge Wells Citizens Advice Bureau. Until recently he spent 16yrs as an LEA school governor, and Chair of Governors for the last ten. He is a Trustee on a pension board for a very wealthy privately-owned property company in the Harley Street medical area where he worked for 18yrs looking after the company’s large property portfolio. Tom is also a parish councillor and chair of the Marden Branch of the Royal British Legion.
His career background is in building surveying and construction having worked as director and head of projects for blue chip companies with properties in the UK and USA. He was also a director and Chair of a building company before being taken over by BAA.
Kirsty has recently joined Aspens Board of Trustees. In 2017, she was involved in the merger of Autism Sussex and Pepenbury providing her corporate finance experience and has remained a member of the Finance and Risk committee. She comes from a commercial banking background having worked for Barclays and Lloyds Bank, where she managed portfolios of mid-sized and large Corporate clients, and latterly led teams of Relationship Managers focussed on SME businesses. In 2013 & 2014 she was awarded South East Corporate Banker of the Year following her involvement in a number of Corporate Finance transactions. Since 2017 she has been working as part of the Business Management team within Lloyds to launch the new non ring-fenced bank in order to meet Structural Reform regulation. Kirsty studied International Management with American Business Studies at the University of Manchester which included a year at the University of North Texas.