Board Of Directors

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Board Of Directors


Tom Alexander  BA (Hons)  FCA  CTA  AIIT

Tom qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1984 having graduated from Lancaster University in 1980 with BA (Hons) in Accounting & Finance.  Tom is a Chartered Tax Advisor, an Associate of Institute of Indirect Taxation and is past chairman of Northern Ireland VAT Practitioners Group.  He has always worked in the accounting profession, specialising in taxation for the last 28 years, and is a tax partner in KPMG. Tom has through his career also accumulated considerable commercial experience.

Being married and with two children now at university in Glasgow, it allows him to keep fit with road cycling, mountain biking, walking and waterskiing with the dubious honour of being the current Commodore of Newferry Waterski Club.  Socialising and wine appreciation are ingredients to most weekends and as a past chairman of Ballymena Wine Society, Tom feels the need to keep his hand in.

Holidays involve travelling as far away from the Northern Ireland weather as possible.

John Carberry M.B.E.

John is a Deaf Awareness and Sign Language Trainer working in the sector for more than thirty years.  John works in a freelance capacity for many clients throughout Northern Ireland and on the Sign Language Project in conjunction with the University of Ulster.  Previously John worked for 23 years for Action on Hearing Loss (RNID) as a Trainer and for Signature (CACDP), a national body for communication skills with Deaf people as a Development Officer.

John has served as a committee member on the following organisations: The National Deaf Children's Society (NI), Northern Ireland Disability Council (forerunner of the Equality Commission) and the Ulster Television Regional Advisory Group.

John has been a long-serving member of the Board of Trustees and Governors of Jordanstown School for Deaf and Visually Impaired Children


John Coghlan

John is a founder member and Chairperson of Disability Aid Abroad (DAA), a voluntary NI charity formed to help people with disabilities in developing countries.  DAA operates income generating and capacity building programmes for disabled people in Tanzania, Uganda, Nepal and Rwanda.  He is also a Director of the Ulanns Academy, a cross community voluntary organisation whose mission is to improve community relations in NI through a shared history perspective.

During his career as a professional photo-journalist covering wars and civil conflicts he witnessed first hand the appalling plight of people with disabilities as a result of conflict and natural disasters.  He produced many TV news items on the effect that war has had on civilian populations particularly on landmine victims in Angola and Cambodia.

In his current role as Community Campaigner he has been extremely active in political advocacy and lobbying and he has thereby developed extensive high-level contacts with local, national and international politicians.

As member of Disability Action’s Board of Directors he hopes to promote the International Strategy of Disability Action using the experience he has gained in sourcing funding and managing global disability programmes.


Ian Elliott (Chair)

Ian joined Disability Actions Board of Directors in 2009.  Since then he has also been the Chair of the Human Resources Sub-committee and a member of the Strategy Group.  In 2011 he became the Vice-Chair.  He became Chair in 2013.

Ian is the Group Chief Executive of the Oaklee Trinity Housing Group, the largest local social housing provider with over 9,000 social housing units throughout Ireland.  Oaklee Trinity is also responsible for the largest portfolio in the provision of supported housing accommodation with 40 joint management partners, such as Charities and Health trusts, to meet a wide range of needs.

Ian is a graduate of Queen’s University and also the University of Ulster.


Paul Finnegan

Paul is currently Regional Manager of Beyond Words, a bereavement project delivered by Cruse Bereavement Care in partnership with Stroke Association. The project is aimed at providing bereavement support to older people, particularly stroke survivors, their carers and those living in sheltered housing.

He was previously Director of Development with Autism NI for three years. Prior to that he was Regional Manager of the Digital Switchover Help Scheme run by the BBC; worked with Autism NI as Director of Development; at RNID (Action on Hearing Loss) within the area of employment and learning; at Extern managing a range of youth interventions for children and young people; the Northern Ireland Youth Forum managing the Participation Hub for children and young people; and the Southern Health and Social Services Board managing the Southern Childcare Partnership.

Previously he was on the Board of Governors at Lisburn Institute for 8 years; Chairman of Lisburn Community Relations Network; Chairman of the Northern Ireland Mentoring Forum; and a member of the Down Lisburn Trust Locality Partnership.

Paul is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management and has 2 Masters Degrees (Organisational Management from QUB and Lifelong Learning from UUJ).

Much of his focus over the last 10 years has been around participation, in particular for people with disabilities and wishes to continue this within Disability Action by focusing on participation and the equality of services and support for those with a disability and their families and carers.


Irene (Rene) Fulton

Rene is currently a committee member for the Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum and also volunteers at some community based events from time to time.  She is fully committed to helping the senior citizens of Newtownabbey with disabilities achieving all they can – both in activities and benefits as much as possible.  As a disabled person she feels this gives her a greater insight into the difficulties of disabled people.

Kym Lennon

Kym is a founder and the first chair of Disability Matters North Down and Ards.  This organisation is primarily concerned with awareness raising (accessible information provision and the production of age appropriate educational books).

Kym has been employed as a Head of Department in an integrated college and she is an experienced teacher of Art and Art History to GCE A level.  Kym has acted as an exam moderator for the education authority and she has marked Art history thesis’s for the Curriculum Council.

Kym is now a church representative for the Board of Governors at the primary school which her daughter attended.

Now a retired schoolteacher Kym does not intend to retire from life.  Kym has won many awards for her published Artwork; which she continues to produce as a disabled artist.

Kym feels that it is very important to know what she can about disability and she has been awarded the PSNI trophy for ‘tirelessly promoting the dignity of people with disabilities’.

Kym intends to continue with the promotion of confidence in the political process.  She will do this through participation in Disability Action in whatever way.


Dr Gary McGladdery

Gary has been employed in a number of roles supporting people with disabilities in Northern Ireland since 2002 and is currently employed as a Disability Officer at Queens University Belfast.  Prior to this he was also employed by a number of organisations in the community and voluntary sector.

Since April 2007 Gary has served two terms as a member of Equality 2025, a Non Departmental Public Body providing advice to the UK Government on disability equality.  In this role he worked closely with a number of Government Departments on disability policy including the Department of Work and Pensions, the Cabinet Office and most recently as a member of an expert group on Equality within the Treasury.  He also advised on disability policy with key agencies such as OfQual, the General Medical Council and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.


William (Bill) Riddall

Bill worked for 30 years in various management roles in international banking within Lloyds Banking Group before retiring in 2000 from a senior position in the Risk and Contingency Management Unit. An Economics graduate of Exeter University, Bill also has several professional and postgraduate qualifications and during his time with the Bank he was involved in work with a number of national international business organisations.

In the past, he has held several Board memberships with a number of voluntaryorganisationsand is currently the Treasurer of Centre for Independent Living NI.

Bill has a keen personal interest in theatre and live drama.  He has been involved in many campaigns for access to both established and new theatres in England and Northern Ireland.

As a tetraplegic wheelchair user, he is committed to the integration of disabled people in all aspects and levels of political and social life in Northern Ireland; promotion of the ethos of independent living; and access to the arts for disabled people.


Gillian Somerville

Gillian was educated in Belfast and graduated from Queens with a first class honours degree in 1992.  Since then she has completed a MA and various postgraduate qualifications relating to general business, Human Resources & Training.

Gillian joined Fold Housing Association in 2011 as Director of HR & Corporate Services with over 18 years experience in HR, at senior management level within the private sector including multi-national organisations.  She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

Gillian has significant experience in handling litigation and employment relations tribunal cases within Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland jurisdictions.  She also has extensive experience in strategic business planning, training and staff development and equality frameworks.

Gillian’s area of interest is equality and workplace integration.  She is also an advocate of supporting the right to live independently, increasing user involvement and influencing policy and legislative change.

Leonard Sproule

Leonard has recently taken early retirement from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive following over 37 years service. He is a graduate of the University of Ulster and has completed a number of management development programmes including “Common Purpose”.

Leonard has served on the committee of the Northern Ireland Branch of the Chartered Institute of Housing and was a former chairperson of Londonderry Citizens Advice Bureau and Antrim Community Safety Partnership.

During his career Leonard has worked in a number of Housing Executive District Offices and was District Manager of the Carrickfergus and Antrim Offices before moving in 2003 to the Housing Executive Headquarters.

Leonard worked as Programme Manager for the Creating Common Ground Consortium which was a strategic partnership of key statutory and voluntary sector agencies working in disadvantaged communities.  From 2006 until his retirement Leonard was Community Services Manager responsible for encouraging and promoting community involvement in local housing issues.

He developed the Housing Executive Community Involvement Strategy including setting up with Disability Action a “Disability Forum” to consider the particular needs and services delivered to people with disabilities.

Outside of work Leonard is a member of Rotary.  He was a former president of Antrim Rotary Club and currently membership development chairman of Newtownabbey Rotary Club.


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