Meet our lovely judges
Each judge has been chosen for their understanding of what caring for a child with additional needs is really like. Whether they work in the field, are parents or bloggers themselves, they are perfectly placed to recognise the talents of our nominees.
Angela Kelly | Parent, Counsellor and SEN trainer and Family support
I am a parent and step parent of five children in total, two of whom have SEND. Being a parent of children with SEN has taught me many things about life, with the most poignant one being about choosing kindness always, as we never know what battles someone else is facing. In my professional capacity I am a counsellor for Positive Autism Support and Training (PAST) and I see both children and adults in one to one settings and I am also the official counsellor for The Curly Hair Project (CHP) – a social enterprise providing an abundance of info on autism with a particular focus on women and girls who are affected by ASD. I deliver training for both PAST and The CHP.
Bev Jessop | Principal and Chief Executive, Queen Alexandra College
Bev Jessop is Principal and Chief Executive at Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham. She has specialist education sector leadership experience of over 17 years at independent specialist Colleges (charities) and mainstream colleges, having a diverse range of knowledge in the fields of special education needs and disability (SEND) and High Needs Students (HNS). Bev is Director on the NATSPEC board, representing organisations in the West Midlands and is a qualified teacher.
Bev has specialist teaching knowledge in the fields of autism and Visual Impairment as well as a comprehensive understanding of post-compulsory funding developments. She is experienced at leading organisational changes and the impact on organisational behaviour; leadership of multidisciplinary provision; strategic development and organisational behaviour. She has a keen interest in educational management, with a Masters in educational leadership as well as a MBA which specialised in change management.
Bev is motivated to ensure a person centred approach, collaboration and partnerships are used meaningfully to maximise adulthood opportunities for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Bill has over 40 years of experience working with people with disabilities. He is now working as a freelance: mentoring, training, auditing and consulting. Starting work as a care assistant in a residential special school run by Barnardo’s he qualified in Psychiatric Social Work at Manchester University.
He is a Non-Executive Director of NHS Cumbria Health on Call and a Fellow of Skills for Care
Previously he held a number of different roles including:
- Chief Executive Officer of the charities MacIntyre and Eden Valley Hospice.
- A Non-Executive Director of NICE with special responsibility for social care
- Chairman of the National Market Development Forum (part of Think Local, Act Personal)
- Chairman of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
- Director of the government’s Improving Lives Programme
- Trustee of the human rights charity CHANGE
Bill is also a qualified mountain leader and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
Carly Jones MBE
Carly is a British Autism Advocate, Actress and Presenter who has worked for the inclusion of Autistic women and girls since 2008.
She proudly holds a public appointment of a member of the UK Honours Committee and is an independent panel member for the Ministry of Justice. Her aim is to create social mobility and elevate the most diverse talents in the UK to ensure no one is overlooked.
Carly co authors with National Autism Charities on Government Safeguarding on Online Safety, Prevent Terrorism and Child Sexual Exploitation guidance as well as Female specific briefings for The Autism Acts strategy 10 year Anniversary as well as having several written submissions, policies and testimonials to UK Parliament, the United Nation Human rights office and Washington DC accepted and published.
Carly was made an MBE in the 2017 New Years Honours list for services to those with Autism
Caro is an autism ally. Her platform The Spikey, gives a parents prospective on raising the neurodiverse.
Her 15 year old daughter is autistic.
‘I am learning autism with my daughter, paving a fairer and equal path for those who are autistic’
Caro is focused on the inclusion of the neurodiverse and changing societal view of those who are autistic. Specifically women and girls.
Emma Murphy | Chief Executive for Registered Trust INFACT, SEND Blogger
Emma is Chief Executive for Registered Trust INFACT, the only Registered Trust in the world supporting parents and families harmed by Epilepsy medications. Emma is also Lead National Campaigner at Parliament for Epilepsy Medications taken during Pregnancy, continuing to raise awareness in Government and help influence policy change. Emma is also writer for her Blog Emma4facs.
Jo Henley | SEND Blogger
Jo Henley writes over at her blog, Ojo’s World, using her corner of the internet to talk all about her life. Jo has three sons, two of which are on the ASD spectrum. She loves to read blogs, as well as write, mostly because, in her words, she’s nosy! Jo is colourful and hard to miss. She’s also very social, so looking forward to meeting the BAPS bloggers.
Marc Carter | Founder of Little Blue Cup
Marc lives in mid Wales and is a full-time carer to his three children who all have disabilities and special needs. If you Google CupForBen you will find the story of the LittleBlueCup. Marc’s search to find a much-needed cup for his son Ben went viral. As well as finding Ben all the cups he could ever need (587 to be exact) Marc has launched the LittleBlueCup Project which helps children and adults with disabilities and special needs to find little things they so desperately need. When he has time Marc blogs about disability, mental health (his own in particular) and social justice. Marc has [too many] years of experience battling the system to support his children through education, health and social care, his experiences mean he has been able to help hundreds of families with their own battles too. In the past he has run businesses, and created and ran a charity supporting parent/carers and disabled children for 7 years before handing it on. Marc’s passions are Formula 1, photography, writing and social justice – he loves making a difference and helping people
Phil Brayshaw | Deputy Head of Children and Young People at NHS England and NHS Improvement
Phil is a nurse for people with learning disabilities. He currently works for NHS England and NHS Improvement on the National Learning Disability and Autism Programme, where his role is to help local areas commission and provide better support and services for autistic children and young people and children and young people with learning disabilities. Before this, Phil worked as a children’s community learning disability nurse and as a local children’s commissioner.
‘I feel privileged to have been asked to judge the BAPS and I am really looking forward to reading the entries.’
Actress and public speaker Samantha Renke was born in Lancashire and currently resides in east London. As a former teacher and trustee for the Brittle Bone Society Renke moved to London seven years ago to peruse a career in acting. In 2013, Renke made her acting debut in indie film Little Devil. She then went on to win best actress at the LA Diversity Film Festival for her work. Since Little Devil’s success Renke has featured in a number of projects including the ground breaking Maltesers Advert featuring disabled actors. As a supporter of the disability charity SCOPE and patron of Head2Head Theatre company Samantha can be seen on a number of television programs speaking out on disability equality.
A self-proclaimed fashionista, Renke has recently collaborated with vegan handbag company Mia Tui to create the Samantha bag; a stylish and accessible handbag range for people with disabilities. Renke’s creation comes from her frustration with high street brands ignoring disabled consumers – fashion should know no bounds! Renke is a Lifestyle columnist for Pos’Ability magazine; the UK’s leading disability magazine, and has recently joining the Metro UK team as a forthrightly columnist. Samantha Renke can also be seen as a regular addition to shows such as Loose Women and Jeremy Vine. She is currently campaigning to address the inaccessibility of today’s world with her #DONTWANTOURCASH campaign.
Sarah Maguire | BA (Hons), M.A, CIPD, Fellow of Centre for Welfare Reform
Sarah has worked with people with learning disabilities and their families since the mid 80’s when she began supporting people to move out of long stay institutions back to their homes.
Sarah completed her MA in Applied Psychology of Learning Disability Services and began work at Choice Support, formerly Southwark Consortium. She has been part of its growth from a single borough organisation in South East London to a National provider. Sarah is an advocate of partnership working with people with disabilities their families; other organisations and more recently with regulators. These relationships have challenged her thinking and lead to a range of new initiatives around safeguarding; helping people connect with their communities and making sure people with disabilities are part of the leadership and quality process within support providers. Sarah took up the the role of Managing Director at Choice Support in 2016 and recently Sarah took up her new role as Chief Executive of the Partnership Support Group following the merger of Choice Support and mcch.
She is a Board member of Learning Disability England and a member of the Driving Up Quality steering committee. Sarah is one of the founding members of the Association of Quality Checkers.
Steph Curtis | SEND Blogger
Steph Curtis started blogging over seven years ago, after her youngest daughter Sasha was given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (also called ASD or Autism). Her blog is called Steph’s Two Girls so that her older daughter is remembered too, and not just thought of as ‘the sibling’. Although ASD was the original diagnosis for Sasha, it’s believed that she actually has a specific type of autism known as Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). Steph is keen to raise awareness of this condition and runs courses for parents to help with strategies for everyday life.