Our Team

CEO - Esther

Having started working life in media sales – I switched from the Corporate sector to the Charity sector many years ago and haven’t looked back since! I love to support people to reach their potential and break down any barriers or perceptions that people have.

I have been incredibly lucky to work for some big charities including The Prince’s Trust and Marie Curie where I secured six figure funding and worked closely with beneficiaries and development teams. Making a difference is what drives me forwards – I am blessed to say I love what I do.

We were lucky enough to give birth to a daughter Seren in 2015. Seren has Down Syndrome. Taking this job on where my personal and professional worlds collide is a dream for me. Be safe in the knowledge that my motivation and driving force for making a difference for our community and members couldn’t be stronger!

In my spare time I love eating out, theatre, dancing and reading.

Events and Volunteer Manager - Claire

Since our daughter was born in 2014, I have grown to understand the real importance of support, friendships and opportunities for people with Down’s Syndrome and their families.

My background is in medical communications, with a love of organising children’s parties and family events thrown into the mix! In my spare time, I love baking cakes, gardening, and most of all spending time with my family and friends.

I’m delighted to be part of the team here at SMDSSG and feel excited about the continued development of our social events for our members. Together with the rest of the team, my hope is to offer events for members of all ages to help develop life skills, form lasting friendships and to have plenty of fun!

Finance and Admin Assistant - Kayleigh

Hello! I’m Kayleigh! I have worked in finance for different companies for the past 15 years. When a position for SMDSSG came up, it was the perfect opportunity to work in a job role which is close to my heart. I have a two lively little boys, the oldest of which has Downs syndrome.

In my spare time, I love to binge watch a tv series, play games in the garden with the boys, and meeting friends for a cup of tea!

Trustee - Tina

Hi I've been involved with the group for 15 years! For the first Thirteen years I delivered the sing and sign sessions at the chatterbox group once a month. Once I retired from this, for practical reasons, I subsequently volunteered to become a trustee of the group -just as lock down started. In this role I have been actively involved in recruiting staff and ensuring everyone is safe, as the designated safeguard person for the group.

I'm also involved with lots of local groups in Chorlton and other national charities. I work as a teacher of the Deaf and I'm currently the assistant head teacher of the Deaf for Manchester's sensory support service. I'm passionate about enabling communication for all and subsequently I have become a competent user of BSL.

The things I love most are my family,my friends ,swimming,cycling,reading and my allotment.

Trustee - Lydia

Lydia is an arts project manager with over ten years' experience coordinating programmes across a wide range of artforms engaging with diverse participant groups.

She has extensive experience of working with learning disabled people and is currently Projects Officer at Venture Arts, an award-winning visual arts charity that supports artists with learning disabilities.

Her role includes managing the organisation's work with schools and young people, supporting learning disabled artists when they join the service and working alongside the participant lead steering group.

In 2021 she was shortlisted for a Manchester Culture Award for her work supporting Venture Arts' artists and their families during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Trustee - Rick

I am a father of three, our eldest child has Down’s syndrome and our family have been accessing support through the charity since 2016. I became a member of the board of trustees in 2018 and briefly ran the charity during the pandemic.

I continue to work closely with our CEO to ensure the charity continues to provide the much needed support to its current and future members.

I love spending time with my family and enjoy discovering new places and experiences together, in my remaining spare time I am a commercial airline pilot!!

Trustee - Jitka

Originally from the Czech Republic I moved to the UK in 2001. I used to enjoy running, skiing and exploring the world and now I am a mother of three beautiful children, the eldest of which has Down’s syndrome.

I am a qualified accountant and I have held the role of treasurer since 2020.

I am committed to providing support and expertise to enable the charity to achieve its strategic goals whilst remaining financially stable.

Trustee - Steve

I’m a devoted father of two wonderful children, Annie and James. James has Down’s syndrome and is somewhat of a celebrity, well certainly in my eyes. My family and I have been members of the group since 2017. The group and its members have been a supportive shoulder over the years, providing services, support and lived experience.

Having only become a trustee very recently, my hope is, as an experienced Project Engineer, to bring with me those skills from industry and support the back office tasks of the charity.

Trustee - Clare

We became members of the South Manchester Down Syndrome Support Group in 2012, shortly after our second child Benjamin was born and diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The group has been an invaluable source of support for our family through friendships, training opportunities, the generous sharing of knowledge and experience amongst the group’s members and the excellent professionals associated with it.

I work in Further Education supporting young adults with special educational needs towards independence and employment. Additionally I work as Access Co-ordinator for DIY Theatre Company, increasing participation for learning disabled performers creating great theatre and education projects in and around Salford.

I am particularly interested in leadership and changemaking roles for people with learning disabilities and hope to bring my personal and professional experience to my role as a Trustee.

I have three children and enjoy family time, the arts, cooking and running.

Contact Us

Unit 17
41 Old Birley St
Manchester M15 5RF

Charity Number: 1164570

Tel: 07593 542 107
Email: contact@dsmanchester.org.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SMDSSG
Facebook chat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smdssg/

Other Email Contacts

Esther Whitaker: esther@dsmanchester.org.uk

Events & Volunteer Manager
Claire Reynolds: claire@dsmanchester.org.uk

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