Our patrons, trustees and operational directors.
John Kennedy, Patron
John Kennedy, CBE, KSG, DL, is a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. In 1961 he founded John Kennedy Civil Engineering and built it into one of the most successful construction and engineering businesses in the UK. After selling the company John focussed on creating the John Kennedy Charitable Foundation which has invested in tremendous causes throughout the UK, Africa and South America. John was awarded a CBE in 2003 to acknowledge his unique contributions to civil life and charities both home and abroad.
John sums up his philosophy as: “Those of us who are blessed with success have a duty and responsibility to assist and guide those who require encouragement and support to succeed and be self-sufficient wherever possible.”
Trish Chapman, Patron
Trish Chapman became a patron at Autism Together in 2018, after supporting the charity through various fundraising events for the last 5 years. Trish is a business owner with a branch depot in Bromborough, Wirral, and has business interests across the North East. Several years ago, the branch depot chose to support Autism Together as their nominated charity, and after a tour of the facilities, Trish decided to become personally involved with our charity, too.
Trish is a keen gardener, and often enjoys visits to Bromborough Pool Garden Centre, which is run by staff and service users at Autism Together.
Andrew Davies, Vice Chair
Andrew has been a trustee since 2012. He is a lawyer who has spent much of his career working for trade unions and their members. He became a fee paid judge in 2013 and works in two jurisdictions dealing with human rights, immigration, asylum and European law in one and social entitlement issues in the other.
Andrew has a long history of involvement in public life including 12 years from 1979 to 1991 as a Wirral councillor. Most recently he completed his second and final term on the board of Wirral Metropolitan College which is outstanding in its work with disadvantaged students.
Andrew splits his time between Wirral and Stockholm where his wife works as a teacher.
Helen has been a trustee since 2018. She comes from a public sector background in local authority; her last post being Assistant Director in Children’s Services for Liverpool City Council.
Helen has a lot of experience of strategic management of services, including special needs and behaviour management services. A key role in Helen’s last post was integration of services, particular around health and children’s services and links between the transition from children to adult services.
Helen also worked for 10 years in Liverpool Community College, as a lecturer and curriculum manager.
Phill was elected to the Board in 2018; he was introduced to Autism Together when his eldest son was diagnosed with autism. He and his wife have two young boys who are both autistic.
Phill is a solicitor by trade, specialising in most areas of litigation. He lives on the Wirral and works in Liverpool, although represents clients throughout England and Wales. Phill feels he can offer help and support to the Board and the organisation from the business, legal, personal and social experiences he has been through.
Hilary Dobson, Chair
Hilary has been a trustee since 2000 and became Chairman in 2016. Now an Emeritus Professor at the University of Liverpool, she spent 40+ years teaching vets (undergrad and postgrad), while managing a world-recognised research team into animal fertility. She has been Chairman of the Vet Faculty, and directed the Continuing Professional Development Unit for several years.
Hilary has also been on a variety of EU and UK government advisory panels. She is currently closely involved in the family farm, especially the business-side.
Ted has been a Trustee since 2013. He has many years’ experience working at both a strategic and operational level, primarily in the social housing and education sectors. His background lies in finance and estates and property management.
Ted is also Chair of Governors at two local primary schools and was also appointed as a National Leader of Governance in 2014.
Ted is also very passionate about cultural diversity and spent significant time over the past of couple of years supporting and volunteering with educational projects in South Africa and Tanzania
John has been a Trustee since 1998; he has a son with autism who has been supported by Autism Together since 1988. John is a retired company director of Kennedy Civil Engineering and maintains many business and charity interests.
John was awarded the CBE in 2003 in recognition of his many charitable commitments.
John is also a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester.
Cath became a trustee in 2016; she has a daughter with autism who has been supported by Autism Together since 2014. Cath was formerly a solicitor in private practice who also worked in the management of solicitors firms.
She is now a Director of a property company responsible for strategy and planning. She also manages a portfolio of property.
Cath has been involved with the Special Olympics since 2007.
Carole was elected to the Board in 2016. She was formerly a special educational needs teacher and also ran an evening centre for adults with moderate and severe learning difficulties. From 2010-2014 she was a governor of Bridge College in Stockport – part of The Together Trust.
Since 2012 Carole has worked with the NAS Accreditation Team and has undertaken several inspections of registered care providers around the country.
The eldest of her four sons has autism and has been supported by Autism Together since 1993.
Iain has been a trustee since 2016. He has over 20 years’ experience in accounting and business operations from working for PLCs, limited companies and partnerships in the legal, retailing, manufacturing and marketing sectors and has held senior positions at both Board and managerial level.
Iain has a strong background in financial management, financial planning and analysis and strategic planning. He also has a broad knowledge of IT and systems development and strong management and administration skills. Iain has a son with autism who has been supported by Autism Together since 2008.
John was elected to the Board in 2016. He is a retired professional engineer working for over 50 years in the international power business at director level in power station management, sales and marketing, HR and Health & Safety. John has also been responsible for business P&L and for establishing budgets from first principles and managing their delivery to target.
From 2008 to 2013, John was a non-executive Director at Wirral Primary Care Trust and was Chair of the Provider Services Board and a member of the Audit Committee. Since 2008 John has served on the Board of Involve North West, a community service charity which specialises in helping difficult to employ people back into the workplace. After 5 years as Chair of the Board he remains an active Board Member.
Tony became a trustee in 2016. He started his career in building services and facilities management and after 20+ years, moved into the rail industry working as a Senior Asset Manager in property at national level. He specialised in policy and strategy for maintenance, renewals and major project development, including internal statutory compliance audit.
Tony has now retired as director of his management consultancy company, specialising in property policy and strategy and rail franchise bid support. He has a young grandson with autism.
Robin Bush, Chief Executive
Robin has worked within the care sector for over 20 years. He began his career as a support worker at a residential school for children with severe learning disabilities in South Devon. It was during his time at the school, that he developed an interest in autism spectrum conditions, which was to become a feature of his career.
On leaving Devon, he lived and worked on the Isle of Man and was instrumental in developing the first specific services for individuals with an autism spectrum diagnosis on the island. Robin returned to England and continued to develop supported living services for adults with a range of complex needs, including those with mental health conditions, severe learning disabilities and physical disabilities.
Robin came to Autism Together in 2013 from a private social care provider in Lancashire where he held the position of Managing Director. He has a firm commitment to ensuring continued development of bespoke quality support services and the organisation has won multiple awards under his leadership.
As a social care professional, Robin has gained a Master’s Degree in Social Services Management, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Services Management and an Advanced Certificate Special Education Autism (Adults).
Jane Carolan, Deputy CEO and Director of Operations
Jane is passionate about services for people who have autism. Working in health and social care for over 30 years, 17 at Director level, Jane has used her knowledge and enthusiasm to promote person-centred specialist services for people who have autism.
Within her professional career Jane used this passion and drive in 2000 to help create Prior’s Court School – a school that has gone on to achieve international recognition.
Since 2009 Jane has brought this drive and ambition to Autism Together, ensuring that specialist autism approaches are used across the organisation – achieving Outstanding status with CQC for a purpose-built innovative service for people who have autism.
Autism Together has been recognised for its outstanding achievements in supporting people with autism by Laing and Buisson, 3rdSector Care Awards, Great British Care Awards and the National Autistic Society.
Jim Strain, Director of HR and Organisational Development
Jim is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) with over 30 years HR and Training Experience.
Originally from west Cumbria, Jim went to University in Liverpool and stayed in the Northwest. After graduating he initially worked for Cheshire Police before joining, what was then, HM Customs & Excise for 7 years on a Civil Service Commission.
Whilst working there, both in HR and Training roles, Jim was also a trustee for a Liverpool based Charity. This was a service provider for people with learning disabilities and sparked his interest in the health and social care sector.
Jim joined the organisation as Personnel Officer in 1996 when there were less than 100 employees. During this time, he also undertook the Post. Grad. Certificate in Business Management. Currently, he is also a trustee for another smaller social care charity in North Wales and a governor for a local primary school.
Sue Stubbs, Director of Finance
Sue is a qualified accountant with over 30 years’ experience in senior finance positions. After gaining a degree in Economics from the University of Warwick she began her career with Ernst and Young in London.
Moving to the North-West in 1993 Sue worked for British Nuclear Fuels for 10 years in a variety of financial and strategic roles including spending a year in the USA. At this point she decided to combine her financial skills and experience with her commitment to social equality.
Since then Sue has been Finance Director for a number of charities in the health and social care and arts sectors. She joined Autism Together in 2017.
Kate McCann, Director of Communications
Kate has more than 25 years of media-related experience across an incredibly diverse range of sectors, having worked for BBC radio, in PR agencies, in-house as a brand manager and, for the last 15 years, as a consultant.
In 2007 she took a sabbatical and worked as a freelance journalist in the US, supplying news and features to US and UK titles. Kate won an award for her PR campaign launching British inventor Trevor Baylis’s wind-up radio to the British public and one of her campaigns for the Wildlife Trusts won an award for environmental journalism.
Kate once persuaded NASA to let her interview four astronauts about parenting from space, a feat requiring so much determination that she may as well have completed astronaut training herself.
She is driven, enthusiastic and creative and passionate about promoting the great work of the social care sector.