Our staff

“Back Up aims to be a fun, challenging and rewarding place to work with an inclusive and supportive culture. We work together towards a shared vision of where we want to go, give each other regular feedback and share values which underpin everything we do.”

Sarah Bryan, CEO

We have a staff team of 32 who – working with a wide range of experienced volunteers around the UK – deliver our services, help raise funds, and act as advocates for our work. To find out more about any of our staff members, please click on their photo.

The Management Team

Sarah Bryan

CEO

Sarah joined Back Up in July 2017 with strong non-profit experience in a variety of organisations including Leonard Cheshire Disability and Combat Stress. Sarah was inspired to work for Back Up after hearing about the charity’s transformative impact on people’s lives, the amazing contribution made by the volunteers, and the user-led approach to its services. She has overall responsibility for the development and delivery of the strategy, in consultation with the board and key stakeholders. Outside work, Sarah spends time with her three teenage boys which entails watching a lot of rugby and football and holding big BBQs.

The Services Team

Andy Masters*

Interim Head of Services

Injured in a rugby accident nearly 20 years ago, Andy first got involved with Back Up through volunteering in the office. In that time he worked across the team, gaining a great insight into how the charity operates whilst becoming a wheelchair skills trainer and group leader. Andy became an Outreach & Support Coordinator, before eventually managing the team. He is now Back Up’s Interim Head of Services, leading and developing our work across the UK. Andy is still an avid rugby follower with his match day hospitality at Twickenham gaining legendary status amongst the team.

Andy Masters*

Andy Masters*

Interim Head of Services

Andy Adamson*

Outreach and Support Manager

Andy has responsibility for the day to day running of the Outreach and Support service. He has worked at Back up for more than four years, having first got involved as an office volunteer, schools advocate and wheelchair skills trainer. He loves the way that Back Up volunteers really want to improve our services and are so passionate about supporting other people with spinal cord injury. Andy recently adopted a goat called Leo and likes spending as much time with him as possible. He has a picture of Leo by his desk and some on his phone too. In short, he’s a big goat fan.

Andy Adamson*

Andy Adamson*

Outreach and Support Manager

Hannah Hunt*

Outreach and Support Co-Ordinator

Hannah is a member of the Outreach and Support team , co-ordinating wheelchair skills sessions and delivering patient education talks at spinal centres across the UK.  She also provides telephone support,  offering help and advice on adjusting to life following a spinal cord injury, and helps to promote the additional services that Back Up offers.

Hannah sustained her spinal cord injury in 2012, falling from a pull-up bar that wasn’t properly fixed to the wall, breaking her back at T10.  Before joining the team, she volunteered for Back Up as a wheelchair skills trainer since 2013.  In her spare time her passion is off-road handcycling, which has given her the freedom to explore a lot of places she couldn’t access in her wheelchair.  Some of her favourite places to bike include the Peak District, North Wales and the Scottish Highlands.

Hannah Hunt*

Hannah Hunt*

Outreach and Support Co-Ordinator

Michael Hipwell*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Michael  helps manage relationships with the 11 UK spinal centres and ensures inpatients and staff are informed about and have access to Back Up services.  Michael broke his neck at C6 playing rugby in 2000 and then toured the world playing wheelchair rugby for Great Britain. After settling down to family life after the birth of his son, Michael began volunteering at Back Up before joining the staff team in 2008.

Michael Hipwell*

Michael Hipwell*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Gill Robinson*

Family Outreach Coordinator

Gill joined the team at Back Up in May 2019 as the Family Outreach Coordinator.  Her son was injured at 17 playing rugby in July 2015. Gill was supported early on by Back Up’s mentoring service and went on to become a volunteer mentor herself.  She can really empathise with how spinal cord injury of a child impacts the whole family. Gill believes that a child can go on and lead an independent life – They can finish school, go to university and beyond! Gill’s a real fitness fiend and ran the London Marathon last year. She also loves travelling, going to the gym, playing tennis and skiing.

Gill Robinson*

Gill Robinson*

Family Outreach Coordinator

Luke Dolan*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Luke is a member of our Outreach and Support Team who was injured in 1995 in a diving accident. As part of his job, he coordinates our wheelchair skills and patient education sessions at Stoke Mandeville and Glasgow spinal injury units. Luke also visits patients and staff in general hospitals to increase awareness of Back Up and our services. When in the office, he’s often flanked by his French bulldog and office mascot, Monty (regularly featured in twitter). He also enjoys going out to the pub, cinema, watching sport and, at the tender age of 36, has rediscovered a love of video games.

Luke Dolan*

Luke Dolan*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Chris Yeates*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Chris looks after wheelchair skills and patient education sessions at Oswestry, Rookwood and Middlesbrough spinal injury units. He also helps the Courses team with their post-course questionnaires, ensuring we monitor the impact that our sessions make. Chris was involved in a road accident in 2006 which resulted in a permanent spinal cord injury. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and son and has become a master of negotiating his wheelchair around his toy-filled living room.

Chris Yeates*

Chris Yeates*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Rich Osborn*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Rich is a member of our Outreach and Support team, responsible for conducting wheelchair skills and patient education sessions at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries unit in Glasgow. As part of his role, he also provides telephone support and visits patients and staff in general hospitals and outreach clinics throughout Scotland. This is to further promote the services of Back Up and what we can offer. Through his love of adventure sports, he sustained his injury through a scuba diving accident in 2009. However, that wasn’t stopped him because when he’s not working, Rich can be found blowing bubbles and taking in the underwater beauty off the coast of Scotland, regardless of time of year!

Rich Osborn*

Rich Osborn*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Charlie Fraser**

Interim Mentoring Manager

Born and bred in London, Charlie’s role at Back Up is to oversee the mentoring service for both people with SCI and their relatives. Like all our mentoring team, Charlie has a strong personal connection to our work. Since her dad’s spinal cord injury over 16 years ago, Charlie has supported Back Up on our courses and events. She has recently become the office’s official party planner and is also the most cheerful person in the office (and quite possibly the world). In her spare time, she enjoys snow-boarding and horse-riding.

Charlie Fraser**

Charlie Fraser**

Interim Mentoring Manager

Jacques Liebenberg*

SCI Mentoring Senior Coordinator

Jacques looks after volunteer mentors and their mentees. He spends a lot of time on the phone talking to people so if you speak to someone with a strange accent, it’s most likely him. Jacques sustained a spinal injury in 1993 while he was in the South African Army. His experience as a wheelchair user makes him a jack (or Jacques) of all trades, but master of none when it comes to wheelchair maintenance. In his spare time he likes to research the latest gadgets and toys for his man cave.

Jacques Liebenberg*

Jacques Liebenberg*

SCI Mentoring Senior Coordinator

Sophie Elwes*

SCI Mentoring Coordinator

Sophie first got involved with Back Up after meeting some wheelchair skills trainers at Stoke Mandeville while she was an inpatient there. They told her about the ski course and she signed up as soon as possible. It was a life-changing experience for Sophie and she has been a Back Up groupie ever since. She joined the outreach and support team in 2016 and now works as our SCI Mentoring Coordinator, matching mentees with our team of mentors and coordinating their relationships. In her spare time she spends as much time waterskiing and wakeboarding as she can!

Sophie Elwes*

Sophie Elwes*

SCI Mentoring Coordinator

Ella Provan*

U18s Services Manager

Ella was ten years old when she had her spinal cord injury, but didn’t get involved with Back Up till some time later. While she was at university, she started doing lots of volunteer work and this prompted her to apply for a position here. As our Under 18’s Services Manager, she works across the team to provide support for children and young people and ensures that they are involved in shaping our services. Outside of work, Ella loves travelling whenever possible. She should also have several Blue Peter badges for her arts and crafts endeavours which include knitting, writing, baking and making jewellery.

Ella Provan*

Ella Provan*

U18s Services Manager

Jo Teager**

Education Inclusion Coordinator

Jo’s job is to support children and young people returning to education after a spinal cord injury. She coordinates our wonderful education inclusion advocates who visit schools, nurseries and universities, and work with staff to ensure that all students with a spinal cord injury can fully participate in all aspects of their education. Jo has worked in education for over eight years and enjoys travelling, collecting vinyl and hanging out with friends and family. Jo, a born and bred Londoner, learnt about Back Up’s services after her father sustained a spinal cord injury in 2014.

Jo Teager**

Jo Teager**

Education Inclusion Coordinator

Merryn Thomas*

Interim Courses Manager

Merryn is our Interim Courses Manager. She works closely with volunteer nurses, PAs and buddies on courses to make sure everyone is fully supported and having a good time. Merryn brings her own ‘unique’ blend of witty banter to the office and certainly wins the award for the most interesting desk space which currently is home to a whisk, a squeaky frog and a pair of rather fetching reindeer ear muffs! When she’s not helping to make our courses happen, Merryn enjoys playing wheelchair rugby and singing as part of a choir.

Merryn Thomas*

Merryn Thomas*

Interim Courses Manager

Ollie Thorn*

Vocation Coordinator & Corporate Partnerships Fundraiser

Ollie is Back Up’s vocation coordinator. He coordinates our Back Up to Work courses and supports people back into work and volunteering opportunities. Ollie also is a member of the Corporate Partnerships team. Ollie’s favourite sport is skiing, on snow and on water! He can also get on a skateboard in his wheelchair, which he is very proud of, but we don’t recommend you try this yourself!

Ollie Thorn*

Ollie Thorn*

Vocation Coordinator & Corporate Partnerships Fundraiser

Karim Dafallah

Courses Administrator

Karim works as part of the courses team, offering logistical and planning support for all our residential courses. He’s also on hand to assist the rest of our services team, doing all he can to ensure their work runs smoothly. With an Algerian dad and an Irish mum, he adds a unique Arab-Celtic charm to the office. Karim has a degree in History and is mainly interested in politics in the UK. Karim is also a football fan and supports Manchester United, and England of course – It’s coming home one day soon!

Karim Dafallah

Karim Dafallah

Courses Administrator

The Communications Team

Mark Reed

Communications Manager

Mark joined the communications team in 2016. He manages a small team of two, and has overall responsibility for the monthly e-newsletter, social media, publicity, annual report and our biannual magazine, Transform. He provides the team with tactical support on their communications projects, adding a dash of whimsy to their writing – and their lives in general. When not being a communications guru, Mark likes running long distances, drinking tea and all-purpose pottering. He is also a trained actor and tries to tread the boards whenever possible. So beloved is Mark by all that he was given full creative control of the staff bios.

Mark Reed

Mark Reed

Communications Manager

Jack Phillips

Communications Assistant

Jack joined Back Up in November 2018, having previously worked in charity communications as a comms assistant for his university’s student union. He is interested in using his skills to make a positive change, creating work with a strong emotional resonance. Jack has two degrees in Film Studies/Production, and is always keen to learn more about making movies. He is also very interested in virtual reality, which was the topic of his MA dissertation. Outside of work Jack likes long meandering bike rides around London, watching (and often over-analysing) classic cult movies, and 35mm photography. His biggest secret is that he likes pineapple on pizza, and he isn’t even remotely ashamed by that fact.

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

Communications Assistant

The Fundraising Team

Sophie Caudwell

Fundraising assistant

In September 2019 Sophie joined the community and individual giving fundraising team, supporting people every step of the way as they raise vital funds for Back Up. A big part of her role is ensuring that those who fundraise for Back Up are made to feel appreciated for all that they do for us. Though Sophie studied languages at university, she soon had her heart set on working in the charity sector after volunteering at several homeless shelters and a refuge for sex workers in her hometown of Bristol. Outside of the office, you might find her hanging off the walls at the local climbing centre or tucked away in the corner of a cafe doing a spot of crochet.

Sophie Caudwell

Sophie Caudwell

Fundraising assistant

Sean McCallion*

Head of Fundraising

Sean is our Head of Fundraising and is responsible for delivering our fundraising strategy and supporting his great team to meet their targets. He loves getting out of the office to meet our supporters and spread the word about our work. Having been involved as a volunteer and staff member for over 15 years, Sean has seen Back Up grow immensely and has been a key part of that change. At weekends, when he’s not spending time with his baby daughter, Sean enjoys getting outdoors: handcycling, swimming, sit-skiing and, with help from some willing friends, he has also made it to the top of the UK’s three highest peaks.

Sean McCallion*

Sean McCallion*

Head of Fundraising

Janet McQuade

Fundraising Manager

Janet works as part of the fundraising team, focusing on our individual supporters and community fundraisers. She also co-ordinates our Legacy Giving and In Memory Giving programmes, organises the Grand Draw raffle and writes appeals. Outside of work, Janet is a keen skater and is on the ice every Thursday practising her turns. Her teenage daughters keep her on her toes and, if they’re good, she takes them along to the rink.

Janet McQuade

Janet McQuade

Fundraising Manager

Jonathan Ashton

Trusts Manager

Jonathan has worked as a grants fundraiser for 25 years. However, he feels a particular connection with disability and spinal cord injury charities after he spent a year looking after a friend with cancer of the spine. He writes applications to grant makers, explaining what people need, the impact that the work can have and how Back Up’s services help people move on with their lives. Outside the office, Jonathan can often be found wandering around art galleries, taking part in some kind of activism, or in the gym.

Jonathan Ashton

Jonathan Ashton

Trusts Manager

Tim Farr*

Corporate Partnerships Manager

Tim has looked after our corporate partnerships for the last couple of years, and he was recently appointed manager of the team. Prior to this, he worked in our outreach team where he supported people with a spinal cord injury. Back Up was there for Tim when he was injured in 2004, and he wanted to give back so he started as a volunteer in the office, as a group leader, mentor and just about everything else before joining us as a member of staff in 2014. He loves outdoor sports including alpine skiing and he even represented Great Britain at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver (‘once a Paraylmpian, always a Paralympian’ he’s keen to remind us…)

Tim Farr*

Tim Farr*

Corporate Partnerships Manager

Emma Sargent

Events and Challenge Manager

Emma is our Events and Challenge Manager and looks after our calendar of fundraising events, including the legendary Back Up Ball. Emma has always loved organising events and is passionate about bringing people together to support the charity. In her free time Emma enjoys travelling, relaxing in the pub with friends and as a Yorkshire lass also loves a trip to the countryside and a roast dinner!

Emma Sargent

Emma Sargent

Events and Challenge Manager

Reece Remedios

Fundraising Assistant

Reece is a member of our fundraising team and organises bucket collections and other activities, alongside supporting people to hold their own events to raise funds for Back Up. He really enjoys the sense of community at the charity and how everyone goes out of their way to help each other out. As part of his role, he regularly speaks to Back Up’s many supporters and is always delighted to hear about the different ways they want to support the charity’s work. Outside the office, Reece fills his time with sports and outdoor pursuits like hiking and climbing, and he hopes to take on some mighty Himalayan mountains in the future.

Reece Remedios

Reece Remedios

Fundraising Assistant

Beth Norgrove

Events and Challenge Assistant

Beth joined the team in August 2018 and works in our events and challenge team alongside Emma and Alex. Beth thinks our events are a great way to raise money for our services and celebrate the contribution of our amazing supporters and fundraisers. As a recent graduate, Beth was inspired to work for the Back Up events team after reading Mark Nemesvary’s story, and hearing about the charity’s life-changing impact on people affected by spinal cord injury. Before her role at Back Up, Beth worked in a range of fundraising for different charities and planned a Christmas event for people who are homeless and isolated. Outside of work, she loves to travel, spend time with friends and family, and practice playing various musical instruments.

Beth Norgrove

Beth Norgrove

Events and Challenge Assistant

Kat Fisher

Trusts and Corporate Fundraiser

Kat joined in April 2019 after working at a children’s social work charity for three years, managing a coaching programme for newly qualified social workers. Whilst there, she led a change management project looking at ways for the programme, funded through philanthropic sources, to be sustained. The project involved working closely with fundraising which interested her and led to a career move into this area of work at Back Up. Kat has a passion for travel and languages, having studied French and Translation at university and having previously lived in France and Canada. She also enjoys country walks and bike rides with her partner and very energetic dog. Last but not least, Kat has been known for her great impersonation of Britney Spears!

Kat Fisher

Kat Fisher

Trusts and Corporate Fundraiser

Suzy Duggan

Trusts Fundraiser

Suzy raises money for Back Up’s high impact services by writing funding applications to charitable trusts. She enjoys finding out about the huge positive changes that so many people experience after turning to Back Up. She also finds it very satisfying when a cheque arrives that will help this vital work to continue! Suzy only recently moved to London from the Somerset countryside, so she is keen to explore the city and see the sights. She did a degree in German and Italian and enjoys singing in choirs, relaxing in pubs and eating her many favourite foods.

Suzy Duggan

Suzy Duggan

Trusts Fundraiser

The Finance & Operations Team

Salvatore LaMonica

Head of Finance and Operations

Salvatore makes sure the office runs smoothly and keeps everyone on budget. He is the most avoided person in the office when the budget time comes, and the person most in demand when there’s an operational issue. He is much beloved by all the team for helping them with all their technical mishaps. Better known as Salvo, he brings some classic Italian style to everyday office life.

Salvatore LaMonica

Salvatore LaMonica

Head of Finance and Operations

Tara Rakhes

Finance and Operations Coordinator

Tara has been working with the finance and operations team since March 2017 and officially became our permanent coordinator in June.  She mostly assists with financial tasks but can be seeing tackling the odd IT issue. Tara holds a Level 1 in British Sign Language, has abseiled down St. Guys Hospital Tower for charity and enjoys long walks on the beach!

Tara Rakhes

Tara Rakhes

Finance and Operations Coordinator

Aneta Matyasik

Finance and Operations Administrator

Aneta joined Back Up in December 2018. She is responsible for the smooth running of the office and general health and safety.
Aneta coordinates the volunteers and supports with the recruitment process. She also looks after the suppliers invoices and payment processing on Sage. In her free time, Aneta enjoys hiking, gardening and salsa dancing.

Aneta Matyasik

Aneta Matyasik

Finance and Operations Administrator


* spinal cord injured
** immediate family member has a spinal cord injury