Our team

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In this article

Our senior management team

Amanda Batten
Chief Executive 

Amanda joined Contact as Chief Executive in May 2014. 

Amanda was previously director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society (NAS). While there she led a multi-award winning campaign to secure the Autism Act, the first ever condition-specific legislation. She played a key role supporting the development of autism strategies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Amanda studied Economics and Politics at Birmingham University and holds an MSc Voluntary Sector Management (Distinction) from Cass Business School. She is chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership campaign and the Council for Disabled Children. 

Anne Brook
Director of Family Support Services

Anne has been with Contact since 2011 and became Director of Family Support Services in 2015. Anne has 28 years’ experience in the private, voluntary, local authority and further education sectors. 

Anne’s previous roles include working for Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities as Information and Services Manager, looking after and developing the information service and grant led projects. 

Mark Davies
Director of Income Generation 

Mark was appointed Director of Income Generation at Contact in November 2019. 

Mark has over 20 years’ fundraising experience in the charity sector. He was Director of Development at the London’s Air Ambulance Charity for six years before joining Contact, leading on income growth. Previous roles include Assistant Director at Centre of Cell, a science education centre based at Queen Mary, University of London, and Development Manager at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. 

Mark is a Trustee of Box Clever Theatre Company. 

Jenny Jones
Director of Resources 

Jenny joined Contact in September 2017 as Director of Resources. Jenny manages the IT, finance, HR and facilities functions and is company secretary. 

A qualified CIPFA accountant, Jenny has worked in the charity and local government sector for the last 13 years. 

Before joining Contact, Jenny worked as Finance Director at Rift Valley Institute. Before that she had financial management roles at Macmillan Cancer Support, Ealing Council and ActionAid. 

Rachel Millington
Director of Communications & Digital 

Rachel joined Contact as a Director in March 2020. 

Rachel has worked in communications for nearly 20 years, primarily within communications and creative agencies. During this time she has worked across global brands, charities, and NGOs, leading on comms and digital projects. 

Rachel has a postgraduate diploma in Marketing and is a volunteer for a local environmental charity. 

Gail Walshe
Director of Participation & Regional Development 

Gail joined Contact in 2006 as a parent carer volunteer supporting families in her home county of Buckinghamshire. She has since held a number of roles at Contact, focusing on developing parent carer involvement. 

Since 2016 she has led our strategic parent carer participation programme, which supports 151 parent carer forums in England, working in partnership with the National Network of Parent Carer Forums to put the parent carer voice at the heart of government decision making. She was appointed to her current role in 2019. 

Before joining Contact, Gail worked in HR, recruitment and development in a range of sectors including the civil service, sales and travel, banking and finance and local government.  She is an Associate Member of The Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 

Our Trustees 

Chris Carr, Chair 

Chris has been extensively involved in the sector for 34 years and in supporting and helping social enterprises over the last 12 years to develop their business models and become better equipped to raise social investment. 

Chris spent 16 years as a London corporate finance partner at a major UK accountancy practice before setting up his own corporate finance business in 2003. 

His day-to-day work has included providing ongoing business development and financial advice to an educational business with centres in the UK and abroad; a national children’s charity running children’s centres; and a Hertfordshire-based charity that supports carers in the county. 

Chris has also been Vice Chair of Livability, a national disability charity, where he recently completed his maximum nine year term. 

Eleanor Christie 

Eleanor is part of the senior global leadership team at Nando’s.  Eleanor qualified as a chartered accountant during her time at KPMG and has spent 20 years working in different large corporate organisations.

Eleanor lives in St Albans with her husband and three children.  Eleanor is active in the community as a school Governor and volunteers with other local charities. 

Angela Kitching, Vice Chair 

Angela works for Age UK and her current role is to influence the UK Government on issues of concern to older people. She is particularly interested in connecting elected representatives with people’s life experiences. 

Angela is a part-time working carer (in a jobshare). She has a daughter and a son who has very complex disabilities as a result of a genetic disorder.  

Angela has recently been part of a parent carer-led campaign to save respite care for medically complex children and their families in Hertfordshire. She is passionate about ensuring families of disabled children have the right support and information to advocate for what their children need.  

She is an alumnus of the Government of Japan’s Core Young Leaders of Civil Society programme (2006), is an AMEX Charity Leaders graduate (2007) and has recently completed the National Council of Voluntary Organisation’s Charity Leaders 2020 programme (2017). Angela graduated MA in Ethics from the University of London and BA in English from the University of York. 

Kelly Evans, Treasurer 

 Kelly has been at the National Autistic Society (NAS) for over 10 years and is currently their Director of Finance, Property and Project Management. Her work at the NAS has given her an insight into the difficulties faced by families with children with disabilities and the extra challenges this brings. She wants to utilise her knowledge and experience to support the work we do at Contact. 

Kelly is a chartered management accountant (ACMA) with a background in the private sector, having worked for the AXA group for many years before joining the NAS. 

Gyll Curtis-Machin – Scottish Trustee

Being autistic herself, Gyll is a passionate believer in speaking out for equality and diversity and changing public perception of what it means to be autistic. She wishes to be part of the creation of innovative opportunities for a more neurodiverse culture.

Gyll graduated with an Honours degree from the University of Stirling. Her eclectic career has taken her across all corners of the UK and abroad. She has worked as a university lecturer, publisher, editor, entrepreneur, and adviser in various charities and schools supporting and mentoring children and adults for over thirty years.

She has worked with autistic entrepreneurs to identify business ideas and launch micro-enterprises. She has co-designed/facilitated post-diagnostic courses for autistic adults and parent carers with ARGH (Autism Rights Group Highland).

Gyll sat on an Autism Advisory Forum led by Inspiring Scotland for the Scottish Government and completed a Lived-Experience Leadership programme with Inclusion Scotland. 

David Duly

David has been chief officer of two housing associations for 38 years; the past 33 years, until 2016, as CE of Habinteg (Ulster), where he strongly promoted and delivered good quality inclusive housing and support for people with and without physical disabilities. David has been a board member of a large Northern Ireland charity working with people with a wide range of disabilities for 34 years. 

David is founder and current board member of Habinteg (Ireland) and a longterm board member of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations. He has had lengthy involvement with RICS including Chairing Northern Ireland Board, serving on a wide range of committees and awards panels along with a lengthy involvement with Corrymeela, a key Northern Ireland reconciliation centre. 

Academically David holds a B Sc, DMS, and Strategic Leadership level 7. He is currently a Fellow of the RICS, CIH and Institute of Leadership and Management and has been awarded an OBE. 

Jamie Holmes 

Jamie has first hand experience living with a child with a disability. His daughter, Holly, has Right Sided Hemiplegia. Having had amazing support in the early days of Holly’s life he was keen to give something back and so joined the Board of Trustees of HemiHelp back in 2016 and was Chairman from October 2017.  He supported the transition of the charity into Contact, successfully concluding in April 2018. 

Jamie is a keen community fundraiser through his passion for running stupidly long distances, and he constantly marvels at his friends’ and family’s generosity when asked to part with their money for great causes. 

His day job is running a very exciting start-up business aimed at making geospatial information more obvious. By using highly accurate digital models of cities his business brings to life the impact of planning decisions and, coupled with the vast amount of data available to us all, can help us all make the best decisions about our cities’ futures. 

Gary Lapthorn 

Gary is Head of Charity, Community and Responsible Business, Commercial Banking, at Lloyds Banking Group. He has worked at Lloyds for over 30 years, with almost 10 years at senior leadership level. He has covered a wide range of roles including proposition development, marketing and client insight. He qualified as an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers earlier in his career, and as a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 2001.  He subsequently completed a masters’ degree in Marketing at the University of Glamorgan. 

Gary lives in North Somerset with his wife and two children and has personal experience of working with disabled children through his son, who has autism and complex learning difficulties. 

Janet Leach 

Janet retired from the London Borough of Enfield in June 2019, having worked in the public sector in the field of special educational needs and disability (SEND) for 42 years and having also held a number of positions within the voluntary sector.  

Janet is a qualified social worker, most recently completing an MSc in Voluntary Sector Management, researching into the impact of poverty on disability and the value of voluntary sector interventions. Janet has extensive board and leadership experience and has championed parent partnerships throughout her career. Most recently Janet partnered with the London Borough of Bromley to jointly support the implementation of the SEND reforms across London.  

Janet is currently Chair of Governors at Waverley Special School in Enfield and is a special school representative on Enfield’s School’s Forum. She is a committee member of the International Short Breaks Association (ISBA), which organises a biannual international conference for all those who need and use short break/respite services. ISBA conferences are also aimed at policy makers and programme administrators.  

Janet has always been active within her local community, fundraising for disability charities and Breast Cancer Now. She is married with three adult children, and her family were delighted and thrilled when she was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to SEND. 

Jamileh Tufal

Jamileh is Head of Brand & Customer Communications at Principality Building Society, the UK’s 6th largest Building Society.

After graduating University in Bristol, she has spent over 20 years working in communications roles across the UK and Australia. The bulk of her career was spent in agencies, where she worked with brands across a range of sectors from FMCG to not-for-profit. Jamileh has held a number of voluntary roles over the years, including a number of years spent working as a Telephone Counsellor to young people for Childline in London. 

Jamileh returned to her hometown of Cardiff a few years ago, which allows her to be near to her nieces and nephews, and her godchildren, one of whom has complex learning difficulties.

Matt Wynes 

Matt is Director of Fundraising at Whizz-Kidz, the National Charity for young wheelchair users. Whizz-Kidz provides vital mobility equipment and services to disabled children and young people. 

Previously, Matt spent more than 20 years in corporate banking before moving into the not-for-profit sector, with both the RNIB and subsequently Richard House Children’s Hospice. As such, Matt has a strong understanding of the daily challenges that disabled children, young people and their families face and is delighted to be supporting this community through Contact.  

Matt has a strong understanding of fundraising in community-based organisations through to national charities and also sits on Missing People’s Fundraising Advisory Committee. 

Vice Presidents 

  • Nick Crean 
  • Josephine Fitzalan-Howard 

Patrons 

  • Patricia Astley 
  • Sir Al Aynsley-Green 
  • Samantha Cameron 
  • Georgina David 
  • Henry Hoare 
  • Ruth, Lady Morris of Kenwood CBE 
  • Francesca Martinez 
  • Nigel Nicholls 
  • Vivienne Parry 
  • Susan Reizenstein 
  • Paul Riseborough 
  • Philippa Russell OBE 
  • Paul Soames 
  • Claire Tomalin 
  • Angus Walker 
  • Elinor and Dafydd Wigley AM