Board Directors of Research Autism

Mr. Geoffrey Maddrell, OBE, Chairman

Geoffrey Maddrell, Chairman Research Autism I have an industry and public service background. After service in the Parachute Regiment, and a law degree and MBA at Cambridge and Columbia Universities, I spent my early career overseas with Shell and Bowater, before becoming Chief Executive of Tootal Group at a time of significant change.

I have subsequently been Chairman of businesses usually undergoing strategic change, including Glenmorangie, Westbury, LDV and UNITE Group. I had two periods as a Civil Service Commissioner and set up three charities in addition to Research Autism.

My interest in making Research Autism a huge success is to achieve our vision of a world where those on the spectrum are able to realize their potential, feel a sense of contribution and enjoy, with their families, a better quality of life, all through research into interventions which is woefully lacking.

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Ms.Tabitha Aldrich-Smith

Tabitha Aldrich-Smith, Director Research AutismI am the founder of VESPR and a Corporate Communications Specialist.

I have a proven background in leading the communications functions for FTSE 100 and 250 businesses.  

I was previously Group Communications Director at Whitbread plc, the UK's largest hotel and restaurant business. During my time there I rebranded the corporate business, including new values and vision, created a totally new web and digital media platform and significantly improved media relations.

Good Together, Whitbread's award winning sustainability programme was also launched and as a result I took Whitbread from mid-30's in the league table of Britain's Most Admired Businesses to the top five within three years.

Other roles I held include senior Group communications positions at Balfour Beatty PLC and Communications Director for Unite Group plc, the student accommodation company.

My particular skill is in defining corporate values, mission, identity and developing positive PR campaigns to build strong and high profile corporate reputations for fast growth companies.

I lead turnaround communications where teams and practices need to be built from scratch or supported to make a step change in reputation management and leadership.

I live in London and hold a degree in Psychology and a Masters in International Business.

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Mr Simon Bellars

Honorary Treasurer

Simon Bellars, trustee of Research AutismSimon is a recently retired partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

I am also the treasurer for Research Autism.

I have a personal interest in autism issues.



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Dame Ann Bowtell, DCB

Ann Bowtell, trustee of Research AutismMy working life was in the civil service, mostly in the social security area: I worked for example on the planning of the income support and housing benefit schemes and the disability benefit changes of the early 1990s. After a few years in the Department of Health and as head of the Civil Service Commission I returned to the Department of Social Security, as it then was, as Permanent Secretary. During my retirement I have been engaged with a number of organizations on a voluntary basis, for example I was for some years a trustee of St Christopher's Hospice and a member of the Council of Royal Holloway.

Social research has been an area of interest for many years. In the Department for Social Security I had at one time the responsibility for commissioning research. The King's Fund Grant's Committee, which for some years I chaired, gave out grants for action research and social research is a major interest of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, where I was a trustee for ten years. I have a personal interest in autism so Research Autism is a natural for me

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Sarah Hewitt

Sarah Hewitt, Director at Research AutismI have worked in a variety of roles during my 16 year career in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector.  These have ranged from account management to technical, service design and senior consulting roles.  Companies include BT, Virgin Media and Cartesian.  During this time I developed a keen interest in the ever present and evolving legal and regulatory compliance issues, and how they impact on a firm’s ability to innovate and grow. 

Having been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when I was 26, I went through school without the support I needed and felt unable to study at degree level, something I always regretted.  I decided in 2013 to embark on a journey to change direction to a career in commercial law and to fulfil my ambition to study law at degree level.  I am currently in year 2 of the LLB Law with Business programme at the University of Birmingham. 

In terms of legal work experience, I was awarded an undergraduate research scholarship for the 2014/2015 academic year by the University of Birmingham Law School.  This gave me invaluable experience as a legal research assistant working on a supervised research project with a commercial focus.  As an adult with ASD, I first became involved with Research Autism volunteering on an autism employment web service project a number of years ago. 

Research Autism is particularly important to me as an adult with ASD.  Autism is increasingly becoming an industry and the number of interventions developed purportedly to help people like me and their families is vast.  Some of these have the ability to make a positive difference; others not so. Independent, unbiased, evidence based research of these interventions is crucial to ensure that people with ASD and their families get the support needed while also ensuring that they are not being exploited. 

Research Autism also ensures that people with ASD are involved with all aspects of their work.  This combined with the expertise of the professionals carrying out work for Research Autism means that the research completed and published is both credible and can be trusted, which is of the utmost importance to me.  I was delighted to join Research Autism as a trustee in early 2015.

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Dr. Jacqui Jackson

Scientific Advisor Research Autism

Jacqui Jackson, trustee of Research AutismAs a parent of 7 children, 5 with a range of differences including autism, Asperger syndrome, ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia, I am acutely aware of the need for ongoing research, not only into the causes of these conditions, but also into interventions that can make a real difference to the lives of people with an ASD and their families.

I have a 1st Class (hons) degree in social policy and subsequent postgraduate qualifications in special educational needs. I have just completed a PhD, researching into sensory differences and design for children with an ASD.

I am a consultant for the Centre for the Development of Autism Practice (CDAP) where along with others I provide workshops and training on a variety of issues surrounding ASD, my particularly area of specialty being sensory differences.

I wrote 'Multicoloured Mayhem' - a parents' guide to the many differences experienced in our household. The publicity surrounding this inspired the BBC to make a documentary about us (My Family and Autism) and subsequently a drama (Magnificent 7).

I work closely with the National Autistic Society and Research Autism to raise awareness and advocate for changes both in service and policy for children and adults with an ASD and their families.

Why we need this website

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Charlie Mills

Managing Director, Credit Suisse

Charlie Mills, trustee of Research AutismI am a managing director at Credit Suisse, where I lead the global research effort into consumer staples companies

After graduating from Exeter University (studied Mathematics, statistics and operational research) I spent 5 years in market research, covering grocery companies. From there I joined the City working for James Capel, Phillips and Drew, and since 1998 for Credit Suisse.

My 50 year old brother is autistic so I have long been interested in what can be done to help his quality of life; so I was delighted to accept the Chairman's invitation to join the trustees of Research Autism and hope I can help in some way going forward

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Professor Digby Tantam, MPH PhD FRCPsych FBPsS

Honorary consultant in the Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust and Director of the Septimus group

I have degees in mathemematics and philosophy from the Open University, in Animal Physiology from the University of Oxford, in Public Health from Harvard University, in Medicine from Oxford, and in Psychiatry from London. 

I have been assessing people with autism spectrum disorders since 1980 when I was an MRC training fellow under the supervision of Uta Frith.  I have been a consultant psychiatrist since 1983 and a consultant psychiatric and psychotherapy, and Professor of Psychotherapy, since 1990. 

I am currently an honorary consultant in the Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust, where I founded the Sheffield Autism Service, and Director of the Septimus group, which includes the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (www.nspc.org.uk) where I am deputy principal. I also have an honorary appointment in developmental psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. 

Many of my 160 research publications are about autism, as are 3 of my 13 published books. My most recent books include  Can the world afford autistic spectrum disorder? Jessica Kingsley, 2009, Autism spectrum disorders: a life-span perspective. Jessica Kingsley, 2012, and Emotional Well-being and Mental Health: A Guide for Counsellors & Psychotherapists.  Sage, 2014.  My book on the interbrain is due out next year.

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Nick Wilkinson

Nick Wilkinson, Research Autism DirectorI have a career background of over 30 years working for a high street discount retailer. I carried out a number of roles including branch and regional management, marketing and strategic analysis.

During my time there I experienced the business growing from a largely midlands based operation with around 50 small and medium stores to a national chain of over 350 stores with larger outlets in excess of 40,000 square feet, and saw the diversification into online retailing.

My association with Autism comes from my wife who had a long career in social work, latterly being a Team Leader and then Service Manager at NORSACA (now Autism East Midlands) for over 10 years.

I am also currently a Patron and Trustee of  Autism East Midlands

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25 Oct 2017