Our Trustees

Meet the STAMMA Board of Trustees and find out about their roles, backgrounds and interests.

Please note Joanna Gaukroger has stepped down as Chair for health reasons. We wish her all the very best.

PAUL FIX, Interim Chair

Appointed in 2022

A man smiling for the camera


My role

Being appointed Interim Chair by the Trustees is a privilege, especially at this exciting moment when we are launching our new strategy 'Space To Stammer' 2024-2027. In addition to chairing the Board, I am a member of the Finance and Membership Committees. I work in partnership with the CEO to ensure the charity delivers on our vision and mission.

About me

I am originally from Essex but moved to Kent in 2010, so I spend a lot of time crossing the Thames to visit family and friends. I have one daughter and as a family of three, we spend lots of time travelling and seeing the world. 

In my day job, I'm Head of People Development and Volunteering for a national charity; working with people and making sure they fulfil their potential is at the core of what I enjoy doing. In addition to STAMMA I'm a local trustee of a Scout Group (where my daughter is a Beaver!) and I lead a national project for another charity looking at the Culture of Volunteering.

My interest in stammering 

I have always had a stammer and it's obvious; I don't try and hide it, it's part of who I am and how I talk. I have been a member of STAMMA since 2020 and was originally involved with supporting the CEO to recruit and interview staff. I ran workshops at the 2022 STAMMAFest and was interviewed on GB news to promote the event (pictured below). 

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Paul being interviewed on GB News in 2022

My vision for STAMMA

I'm passionate about ensuring STAMMA continues to grow, develop and maximise its potential by working with our members and volunteers.

DEBORAH JOHNSTON MBE, Interim Vice Chair

Appointed in 2022

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My role

I'm really honoured to be Interim Vice Chair. In this role, I support the Chair and lead particular projects. I am on the Finance Committee and I chair the Fundraising Committee. For me, this is important as we want a vibrant, sustainable institution that will be there well into the future, supporting all those affected by stammering.

About me

I am a typical Londoner. Born in London (and living there again now), I'm actually of dual heritage (Irish/Pakistani) and lived for almost a decade in Southern Africa. My husband of more than 25 years is from Yorkshire, so Wakefield is my second home. 

I have two children (one of whom stammers), a Yorkshire Terrier and two cats. I love art and craft and all things creative. In my day job I am the Deputy Vice Chancellor of a university and professor of development economics. I sit on several sectoral groups looking at disability.

I'm also a member of the international public speaking club Toastmasters. I became a Distinguished Toastmaster in 2020 (I'm wearing my little badge in the photo above) and have started public speaking groups at my last two universities. Everything from an accent to a speech difference can be perceived negatively. I think that for some people, acquiring public speaking skills can be empowering and I love to watch people grow in confidence.

My interest in stammering

I was first involved with STAMMA/BSA in the mid-1990s, when I joined a City Lit stammering therapy course. My special interest is stammering and education, particularly at university. In the 2010s, I contacted the brilliant Claire Maillet from Stammerers Through University Consultancy (STUC) and I've worked with her and others to provide more information for students and staff. I was particularly pleased when STUC, STAMMA and London South Bank University (my university) published a guide for university staff in 2021. I also facilitated a webinar on creating inclusive environments for people who stammer in 2022 (pictured).

My vision for STAMMA 

My vision is that our way of speaking (in all diversity) is simply accepted in the future; and that people with a stammer will realise that they are not alone and, if they want help, that STAMMA is there for them.

Gillian Rudd

Re-appointed in 2021

A woman in a running vest smiling for the camera


My role

In addition to my core Trustee responsibilities, I am a Lead Trustee for Safeguarding. I'm also a member of the Trustee Support Group, which supports new Trustees and oversees the election process, and I'm part of the Research Committee, which oversees research-related projects and activities, including the Research Arena.

About me

I am originally from Lancashire and moved to the West Midlands 14 years ago. I live with my husband, our two children and our elderly cat called Captain Fury (we love a bit of Marvel in our house!). Life is pretty busy but we enjoy spending our free time together going to the park, reading, doing jigsaws and gaming (our current obsession is Disney's Dreamlight Valley). 

I am a speech & language therapist by background and currently work as a Senior Lecturer and Joint Course Lead at Birmingham City University. I am particularly interested in how services are designed and delivered and the variation in provision across regions and I have campaigned for improved funding and provision for many years. I am hoping to explore this issue further as part of my Doctorate. 

My interest in stammering

I have been a member of STAMMA for almost 20 years and am grateful to be part of such a dynamic, engaging and welcoming community. I joined when I was training to be a speech & language therapist and attended my first conference back in 2007 in Telford. I have remained an active member whilst practising clinically in the NHS and higher education and have been involved in a range of activities including a number of International Stammering Awareness Day events. I also co-founded the Birmingham Stammering Network with teacher Abed Ahmed (pictured below).

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Founders of the Birmingham Network: Gill with Abed

My vision for STAMMA

Without wanting to sound too corporate, I believe wholeheartedly in STAMMA's mission and vision to create a world that makes space for stammering; to challenge discrimination, to provide support and information and to fight for services. Our voices are louder when we stand together: let's make people stop and listen.

MANDY TAYLOR

Elected in 2022

A woman smiling for the camera


My role

I currently sit on the Finance Committee, which involves reviewing the financial data for the charity, discussing and approving budgets, forecasting etc. I'm also part of the Trustee Support Group, which supports new Trustees and helps to support the election process.

About me

I am originally from Northern Ireland and moved to Cheshire 9 years ago after meeting my now husband through the stammering community. I have two sons, two step sons and a miniature dachshund called Peanut. We enjoy spending time at our caravan in Morecambe, where I try to keep up my running and walking across the beautiful surrounding landscapes. Other things I enjoy are cooking, quiz nights and playing daft games with the kids.

For my day job, I work in finance for an estate management company. I am also the Treasurer for a local nursery school which my youngest son attended.

My interest in stammering

I stammer, I have been a member of BSA/STAMMA since 2011 and this is my third term as a Trustee over the last 12 years. My special interest has been children and families as my own family has numerous members that stammer. 

Over the years I have been involved in the Giving Voice campaign in Northern Ireland, a Belfast support group, the walking group STAMMA Striders, and I've attended conferences and fundraising events in London (pictured below), Manchester, Glasgow and Iceland. 

A woman in running clothes holding her hands in the air after a race
Mandy at the London 10k in 2019

My vision for STAMMA

Being on the Board of Trustees is a fantastic opportunity to continue the work and progression of STAMMA. I look forward to seeing our charity continue to bring stammering forward to wider audiences, making the difference to all generations of people who stammer.

ALEXANDER HARRISON

Elected in 2022

A man looking at the camera and smiling


My role

As well as sitting on the Board, I'm on the Fundraising sub-committee. This was set up to maximise membership fundraising, and we work as a team of three Trustees alongside STAMMA staff members.

About me

I'm from Manchester originally but have lived in Sheffield now for 8 years. A lot of that time I've spent studying and filling my free time with visits to our fantastic local pubs and going on city breaks across the UK. I have nearly finished my training to become a speech & language therapist and plan to work with adults who need support with their communication or eating, drinking and swallowing. 

My interest in stammering

I've stammered since I can remember, so STAMMA seems like my natural home! I experienced 10+ years of speech & language therapy, and now I'm luckily in the position to be a healthcare professional and use my lived experience to help change outcomes for people who communicate differently. 

Two men looking at the camera and smiling
Alexander (right) supporting one of our campaigns

My vision for STAMMA

I want to help make STAMMA a truly diverse and inclusive organisation, using my position as Trustee to ensure that we speak for all people who stammer, including those from minoritised groups, such as certain ethnic and cultural backgrounds and LGBTQIA+. I hope to prove that it's OK to stammer openly. We have nothing to be ashamed of.

Peter Bryan, Treasurer

Appointed in 2022

A man smiling for the camera


About me

I'm a recently-retired chartered accountant who has spent over 30 years in senior positions in a large financial services business, gaining a broad range of finance experience along the way. 

My vision for STAMMA

As a stammerer I am keen to 'give something back' and want to help STAMMA to grow and develop from a sound financial base by helping to provide insight and guidance from both a financial perspective as well as more broadly.

Allison Burrow

Elected in 2023

A woman smiling for the camera

 

My role

As well as being a trustee board member I sit on the Finance committee.

About Me

I am from, and still live in, Romford in Essex, I am married and have 2 grown up daughters. My day job is as the Finance & Administration Manager for the Jack Petchey Foundation, a charitable foundation based in London. I love a musical and spending time with family and friends.

My interest in stammering 

I have stammered for as long as I can remember and use various techniques to help me. I wish for all people who stammer to feel confident in themselves irrespective of their speech and to be treated equally.

My vision for STAMMA

My vision is that STAMMA continues to grow to enable ALL people who stammer to get the support they need WHEN they need it.

Ahmad Bismillah

Appointed in 2023

A man looking at the camera and smiling

 

About Me

I live in London and design, develop and deliver portfolios, programmes and projects for a regional authority. I enjoy visiting cities, immersing myself in local culture and meeting new people. When I'm not out cycling, playing badminton, football or cricket, I enjoy spending time with family though my cat would beg to differ!

My interest in stammering 

I stammer. I'm interested in the clinical context and the work of speech & language therapists. Stammering has become a bigger part of my life in the last few years so I also want to connect with and have conversations with others like me. 

My vision for STAMMA

STAMMA should be a warm cosy home for people who stammer, and a welcoming place for those who want to support them. Raising awareness of who we are, and how the organisation can support its members in all aspects of life when they need it, is something I'm particularly passionate about.

Dean Ridge

Elected in 2023

A man smiling at the camera, with mountains behind him

 

About Me

I'm a lifelong resident of Sheffield and am married with an 18-year-old son. I am a keen walker and enjoy the outdoors and like to get out as much as I can into the peak district and surrounding areas. My day job is as an IT Service Escalations Manager for a national estate agent.

My interest in stammering 

I have stammered all my life but didn't really come to terms with it until later in life. Since becoming involved in the stammering community I have been involved in organising events ranging from local group awareness-raising events to international conferences. I have also given lectures to speech & language therapy students at Universities and have spoken about stammering on live radio on numerous occasions. I also co-run the STAMMA Striders walking group (pictured below).

A group of ramblers in a woodland setting looking at the camera and smiling
Dean (middle-left) with the STAMMA Striders

My vision for STAMMA

I'm passionate about growing the size of our stammering community. I want every person who stammers out there to know what an amazing and friendly community we have and for them to be a part of it. I also want to increase the number of social events that STAMMA arranges as I feel that these are vital for bringing the stammering community together and widening our reach.

Penny East

Appointed in February 2024 (picture pending)

About Me

I have headed up communications and external relations teams for charities for the last fifteen years, working in areas such as domestic abuse, mental health, sport for change projects and also for grant-giving bodies like Comic Relief and the Lottery. I sit on a project board for a national domestic abuse programme and am currently the External Relations Director of a mental health charity.

I live in Essex in an old cottage with my husband and two young sons. I am trying to do up my house, learn to cook (properly), and gain an extensive knowledge of Marvel characters (to gain the respect of my kids).

My interest in stammering

I have always been interested in stammering, and have long admired the work and impact of STAMMA. I have close family members who stammer.

I hope to bring external relations expertise across communications, policy and fundraising to STAMMA, and ensure its excellent brand is being fully utilised so campaigns are won and STAMMA's impact is more widely known.

My vision for STAMMA

I want to help challenge discrimination and ensure everyone who stammers has equal access to all education, health and employment opportunities. STAMMA is a remarkable organisation, and I hope to help build its profile and increase its influence and income.

Of the Trustees listed, Gill and Penny don't stammer. To see when each Trustee's term comes to an end, see Trustee Tenures.

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Two women in running outfits holding flags and looking at the camera
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Tayo & Bhupinder
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A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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