Leonard Sproule (Chair)

Leonard SprouleLeonard took early retirement from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive after 37 years service. He obtained corporate membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing and completed a number of management development programmes including Common Purpose.

As Chairman of Disability Action’s Board Leonard hopes to use his housing management experience to focus on the needs of people with disabilities. Leonard has a particular interest in user involvement and strengthening the quality of service provision to the disability sector.

Gerry Maguire M.B.E. (Vice-Chair)

Gerry Maguire

Gerry works for the Western Health & Social Care Trust in administration.  He also works part time for the Appeals Service N.I.C.S.  He sits on the Advisory Panel for Disability for the Fermanagh / Omagh District Council; is a member of the Advisory Panel for Day Care in the Western Trust: a member of the Local Housing Executive Scrutiny Panel; a member of the Regional Disability Housing for NIHE; and a member of the local Museum Advisory Panel.  He was awarded a M.B.E in 2005 for services to Disability in Northern Ireland.



Tom Alexander  (Treasurer)



Tom qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1984.  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 also accumulated considerable commercial experience through his career.


Patricia Bray

Patricia is the co-founder of the North West Forum of People with Disabilities in 1994 and is currently Chairperson of the Management Committee.   The Forum is a human rights organisation and is 100% led by disabled people.  Patricia has been involved in the human rights movement for over 30 years.  During this period she worked with Disability Action as Statutory Duty and Policy Officer - working to ensure that the public sector equality duties under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Disability Discrimination Order 2007 were implemented. 

Patricia continues through North West Forum of People with Disabilities, various fora and committees to promote the human rights and voice of disabled people in all aspects of political, economic and social life in Northern Ireland.

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) and a national body for communication skills with Deaf people.

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 Coghlan building red bricks in AfricaJohn is a founder member and Chairperson of Disability Aid Abroad, a voluntary Northern Ireland charity formed to help people with disabilities in developing countries, running projects for disabled people in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Nepal.

During his career as a professional photo-journalist covering wars and civil conflicts, he has witnessed at first hand the appalling plight of people with disabilities, producing television news items on the effect that war has on civilian populations in particular on landmine victims in Angola and Cambodia.  As a result he has a passionate interest in promoting the rights of disabled people globally, particularly in utilising the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability.


Irene (Rene) Fulton


Since retiring from the Civil service Rene has volunteered for several bodies, including Newtownabbey Council and the Citizens Advice Bureau. She is also a member of Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum where she helped set up a Writers Group for over 50 yr olds which is going from strength to strength.

More recently Rene became a Peer Advocate for older people through the Age No Barrier project run by Disability Action, which aims to help older disabled people get the benefits they are entitled to and helps them hone their I.T. Skills as required. Rene feels as a member of the disabled older community she is able to identify this need.



Ursula Marshall

Ursula is currently Chair of Mid-Ulster Disability Forum.  She has a background in community activism over a 20 year period providing her with a broad, comprehensive understanding of social issues, particularly in relation to disability.  She champions disability through a range of organisations that she is involved with such as; NIHE Housing Community Network, NIHE Disability Forum, Town Centre For a (Cookstown and Magherfelt), Womens Aid (both local and regional), Mid Ulster Child Contact Centre, CYCSP Locality Group, Shopmobility Independent Member of Mid Ulster PCSP (dealing with policing and community safety).

Drennan McBride

Drennan took early retirement from Belfast City Council and turned back to his first love, the community and social economy sphere as a volunteer and director. His wide interests though confined to North and West Belfast have latterly included: Executive Chair of Argyle Business Centre, facilitating employment of 420+ people and economic regeneration in the Shankill area of Belfast; Chair of Governors of Hazelwood Integrated Primary and Nursery School in North Belfast, full to capacity with 460 happy pupils; Board Member of Paisley Park Sportsplex working to redevelop a multi-use sports ground for community use in West Belfast. His interest and support for ‘Disability’ stems from contracting Polio in 1957.  



William (Bill) Riddall 

Bill RiddallAfter 30 years as a manager in the Lloyds Bank Group, Bill retired home to NI. An Economics graduate of Exeter University, Bill also has several professional and postgraduate qualifications. He was involved in UK disability rights campaigns and held was a board member of a number of UK charities in the arts and disability. He is now the Treasurer of Centre for Independent Living NI. As a tetraplegic wheelchair user, he is committed to the integration of disabled people into all aspects of political and social life in Northern Ireland; promoting independent living; and improving arts access.