Who We Are

A packed lecture hall, people raising hands to vote; Cardiff Conference 2018

STAMMA, the British Stammering Association, is dedicated to creating a world where people who stammer are able to fulfil their potential and enjoy respect and consideration.

Here for anyone in the UK who stammers, we offer support and information for those that stammer and those around them. We're here to connect people, to support, signpost and provide information about stammering and to advocate for and represent those who stammer. 

Our staff team is made up of people who stammer and people who don't. Our Trustee board is overwhelming made up of people who stammer (currently only one Trustee doesn't stammer). We are dedicated to encouraging a supportive and inclusive culture — read our Equality & Diversity Policy. Our registered charity numbers are 1089967/SC038866. 

Become a member

Above all we are a membership organisation. Anyone aged 16+ and living in the UK can Become a Member for free. Members can vote and stand for election for our General Committee (Board of Trustees). In addition to members, we also rely upon volunteers to help us do what we do and support people across the country. If you want to get involved, volunteer on the helpline, help in the office, take pictures or write for us, we would LOVE to hear from you. See our Volunteer page for more details.

Staff

Jane PowellJane Powell, Chief Executive
Jane has worked in the voluntary sector and on campaigns all her life. She joined in 2018 after launching and running the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). She said, "It's an honour and a huge responsibility to be leading such an important organisation."

Kirsten HowellKirsten Howells, Programme Lead
Kirsten is a speech and language therapist. Fortunate to have lived and worked in Norway and the US, she now lives in the north-west of England with her family. Joining the team in late 2019, Kirsten said, "I'm really excited to be involved with the work of STAMMA and am looking forward to contributing to the further development of the helpline and webchat services."

Jacqueline FitzsimmonsJacqueline Fitzsimmons, Office Manager
Jacqueline first started working with the BSA back in 2000. Following a career break she returned in 2016 as Office Manager, using her wealth of knowledge to ensure that the day-to-day operational aspects of the charity run smoothly and efficiently.

Lee Millam, Helpline Manager
Lee has worked for the charity since 2008, managing the Information and Support Service and fundraising for it. They also work part-time for another charity focusing on volunteering and contribute podcasts to the academic website Pod Academy. Lee has also worked as a radio producer for independent and BBC radio.

Steven Halliday, Web Editor
Steven first worked for the BSA from 2009-2015, during which time he set up its social media presence and Facebook support group. He rejoined late in 2018 to take over on the website and said, "I used to really enjoy editing the old magazine Speaking Out, so am excited about showcasing the stories and experiences of people who stammer through the website."

Manisha VoraManisha Vora, Finance Officer
Manisha joined the team on a part-time basis in February 2019. With several years' experience in accounts and finance, she has worked with other charities and small partnership concerns, and is excited to be a part of STAMMA.

Staff member Elisabeth WrightElisabeth Wright, Support Services Administrator
Elisabeth is an experienced administrator and joined the team in November 2020. As a parent of a child who stammers, Elisabeth is passionate about the charity's work and said, "STAMMA has been a great help to me and my family. I feel excited and privileged to be part of the team, and to be joining them in making a real difference to people's lives".

Staff member George SomersGeorge Somers, Supporter Care Officer
George joined the team at the start of 2021, and looks after communications and engagement with our members, donors and volunteers. He has worked in charities and volunteering since he graduated four years ago, and joins us from the Membership Office at Shakespeare's Globe.

A woman looking at the camera, smilingCatherine Woolley, Programme Lead for Children & Families
Catherine also works as an NHS Specialist Speech & Language Therapist in the South of England. Since graduating she has explored an interest in changing public attitudes towards communication difficulties, including work with the University of Oxford. In 2018-2020 she completed a Masters of Research at UCL exploring the impact that theatre can have on the attitudes of the general public towards people who stammer. Read Catherine's Your Voice article 'Stammering and the power of theatre'.

A woman looking at the camera, smilingVerena Meyners, Network & Campaigns Lead
Vee has previously worked for Amnesty International and Victim Support as well as for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative where she coordinated a global network of 60+ grassroots civil society organisations that work towards the eradication of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. She is experienced in communications, campaigns and events, and says, "I am excited to learn and grow in this role, to raise awareness and make a difference to people who stammer".

A woman looking at the camera, smilingVidya Bijarnia, Salesforce Administrator
Vidya joined us in March 2022 and is responsible for day-to-day customisation, automation and maintenance of our Salesforce database. She says, "I feel absolutely privileged to work for STAMMA, which has such a positive impact on society. In my free time I enjoy the great outdoors, yoga and music". 

Trustees

Trustee Joanna GaukrogerJoanna Gaukroger (Chair)
"I have stammered as long as I can remember. I have had a successful career in further education, which has included working as Principal of Kensington & Chelsea and Tower Hamlets Colleges, as well as a period of five years as an education inspector. I am passionate about improving public attitudes and perceptions towards people who stammer, and in ensuring that we help all those who stammer to achieve their full potential — whatever that might be. I became a Trustee in 2020, and Chair in 2021."

A man looking at the camera and smilingPaul Fix (Vice Chair)
"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'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. I'm passionate about ensuring STAMMA continues to grow, develop and maximise its potential by working with our members and volunteers."

Betony KellyBetony Kelly
"I'm a senior engagement and behaviour change professional with experience in public and commercial sectors. I've worked in several roles leading change, digital outreach and crisis communications such as for the Grenfell Tower response Gold Command team, central Government Departments and HSBC. I'm co-chair of the Civil Service Stammering Network and as a person who stammers, I am passionate about creating positive and inclusive environments where everyone can speak and be heard."

Gary Barth (Treasurer)
Gary Barth"I am from Scotland but now live in London, after a spell in Sydney, where I work as a Chartered Accountant at a private equity firm. As one who stammers, I am proud to be involved with STAMMA and as Treasurer my role is to ensure that the charity can continue to carry out and develop its activities from a strong financial position, and provide clear and concise financial information to the members."

Neil MorjariaNeil Morjaria
"Having stammered since childhood, I have experienced first-hand the difficulties and challenges and I wish to help promote greater public awareness and understanding of stammering and offer support wherever needed. As an Independent Financial Adviser to both personal and corporate clients, my role involves a lot of talking!"

Naheem BashirNaheem Bashir 
"I am an Experimental Psychologist at UCL. At the age of 18 I almost took my own life because of my stammer. However, through therapy and support I learned to see my stammer as a slingshot; it held me back, but now it's propelling me forward. I recently completed a PhD exploring the brains of people who stammer and using this information to develop more effective therapies. I also co-founded the London support group for people who stammer."

Christine SimpsonChristine Simpson
"I recently retired from a working life in library customer services. My stammer has had a positive effect on my life. I met my partner through a BSA event and have met many wonderful people through the charity. I have volunteered for BSA/STAMMA for many years, most recently as chair of the Cardiff conference organising committee. I'm also an admin of the Women who Stammer Facebook group and co-founder of the new group in London for women who stammer.

Gillian RuddGillian Rudd
"I am a Speech and Language Therapist and senior lecturer at Birmingham City University, and co-founder of the Birmingham Stammering Network. I've been a member of the BSA for over 15 years and feel privileged to be part of the Trustee board during such an exciting time of development and change." 

A woman looking at the cameraChantal Anderson
"I want to use my experience within the Civil Service, the Army Cadets and the McGuire Programme to create further opportunities for people who stammer, to educate non-stammerers and make the general population better allies, to support people who stammer through important milestones, and pushing to ensure that people troubled by stammering are looked upon just as favourably as everyone else."

A woman looking at the cameraRhian Binns
"I am a PR & Comms Manager and I've stammered from the age of 2. We need to make a stand that it's OK to stammer. It isn't something we should be ashamed of or scared of doing. Our stammers make us beautifully unique, and I want to be part of a great network that makes stammerers of all ages realise that they're not alone."

A woman looking at the camera, smilingDeborah Johnston
"I have always stammered covertly. Through a successful career in higher education, I became passionate about claiming my space to stammer openly. It's important that stammered speech is heard and respected. I deeply believe in the importance of education in transforming lives and have been working with others to contribute to making universities positive places for people who stammer." 

A man looking at the camera and smilingJames Mawrey
"I am Director of People and Deputy Chief Executive of an NHS trust in Greater Manchester. A key part of my role is ensuring that our staff feel supported to bring their whole selves to work, and in doing so, provide the very best of patient care. As someone who stammers, it's really important to me that it is normalised and that people with stammers feel confident and comfortable in their surroundings, both in and out of work."

Of the Trustees listed above, Gill is the only one who doesn't have a stammer. 

To see when each Trustee was elected or appointed, and the dates when their terms come to an end, click here.

President

Our President was Brian Dodsworth, who sadly passed away on 10th April 2021. Read our tribute 'Remembering Brian Dodsworth'.

The late Brian Dodsworth, BSA/STAMMA President

 

Patrons

In addition to our members, volunteers, fundraisers, trustees and staff, STAMMA, the British Stammering Association, is supported by our valued Patrons. 

Our Patrons have each been impacted uniquely by their stammer. They each consider it in a different way and we are keen to share their experience, views and insight. They are, in alphabetical order:

Broadcaster and former MP Ed Balls 

Ed Balls

You can borrow Ed's book 'Speaking Out', in which he talks about his stammer, from our library here

Former Scotland International Rugby Captain Kelly Brown

Ex rugby star Kelly Brown

Watch Kelly talking about his stammer in an interview he did with Rugby Pass: Life in rugby with a stammer. Kelly also features in a BBC Sport article: 'How two elite sportsmen learned to live with a stammer'.

Author Jonty Claypole

Jonty Claypole

Jonty is the outgoing Director of BBC Arts, Chair of Home, the Manchester arts centre, and author of the book 'Words Fail Us: In Defence of Disfluency.'

Celebrated writer Dame Margaret Drabble DBE

Dame Margaret Drabble

Watch Margaret talking about stammering and the power of words in this discussion with author David Mitchell. In 2001, she delivered a lecture at the invitation of the Oxford English Faculty. In it, Margaret said:

'The ability to speak fluently is a great asset in a literary career, and one much prized by publishers and publicists. Nevertheless, many of us find ourselves pressured or flattered or cajoled into making speeches against our better judgement.

'I was not cut out by my natural talents to be a lecturer or a public speaker. From an early age - the age of three, I am told - I suffered from a stammer, at times severe, though now very episodic and temperamental. So I could take the line that both Arnold Bennett and Somerset Maugham took when asked to speak in public, at after-dinner gatherings, or to literary societies. Both were severe stammerers, and both insisted that they didn't speak, they wrote. I could argue, though disingenuously, that my objections to the modern commercial literary circus spring from the fact that I entered it with a handicap, and that I feel that, as a writer, I am being expected to display skills or abilities that I do not possess.'

Former MP and MSP John McAllion

Acclaimed author David Mitchell

Author David Mitchell

Watch David talking about stammering and the power of words in this discussion with author Margaret Drabble. You can borrow David's novel 'Black Swan Green', a semi-biographical book about a boy who stammers, from our library here. David also made a keynote speech to the World Congress for People who Stutter in 2013, titled '13 Ways to Look at a Stammer', which you can watch here, or read the transcript here.

Actor, rapper and leading podcaster Scroobius Pip

Scroobius Pip

Listen to a special edition of Pip's podcast 'Distraction Pieces', where he talks with three people who stammer, here.

Businessman and broadcaster Arwel Richards

Watch Arwel explain in the video below that 'having a stammer isn't a barrier to having a great life and a great career.'

Novelist, poet, playwright and presenter Owen Sheers Owen Sheers

Read more about Owen in our news article here.

The original 'super agent' Jon Smith OBE

Agent Jon Smith

Jon has a high profile in the sports and entertainment arenas, and in his biography 'The Deal', he talks about his stammer and how he developed public speaking skills for his continuous media work.

Politician Baroness Whitaker

Baroness Janet Whitaker

Read our interview with Janet Whitaker, in which she talks about coping with her stammer in Parliament, here.

Former patrons

Our former Patrons include:

Writer, presenter, humourist and medical doctor Jonathan Miller CBE (1934-2019)

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan sadly passed away in November 2019. Read our Tribute to Jonathan Miller, which includes a transcription of his Parkinson interview where he talked about his stammer.

Legendary entertainer Nicholas Parsons CBE (1923-2020)

Nicholas Parsons

One of our longest-standing patrons, Nicholas died in January 2020. Read what he did for the charity in our Tribute to Nicholas Parsons. You can also read the chapter of his autobiography where he talks about his experiences of stammering here.

Awards

In October 2020, we picked up three awards at the Third Sector Excellence Awards.

They were for:

  • Brand Development
  • Volunteer of the Year (John Russell)
  • Chair of the Year (Tim Fell).

Read all about it our our article 'STAMMA wins 3 awards'.