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 (fun being an important one!).”

Sarah Bryan, CEO

We have a staff team of 33 based in Wandsworth, who work with wide range of experienced volunteers around the UK who 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 and disability sector experience in a variety of organisations including Leonard Cheshire Disability and Combat Stress. Her career started in advertising and communications agencies, where she launched the NSPCC Full Stop campaign. 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 award-winning services. She has overall responsibility for the development and delivery of the strategy, in consultation with the board and key stakeholders. Outside work, Sarah likes to spend time with her three teenage boys which mainly entails watching a lot of rugby and football in the winter and holding big BBQs in the summer.

The Services Team

Polly Nabarro**

Head of Mentoring and Families

Alongside Andy Masters, Polly heads up the services at Back Up, leading the team of superstar services staff. She is really passionate about supporting people with a spinal cord injury and their family members; Her brother Tom had a spinal cord injury in 2007 and she found out about Back Up when he went on a skiing course. Polly has worked at Back Up since 2013 and is continuously inspired by the amazing staff and volunteers – an incredible bunch of people! She’s lives in a little village on top of a hill and loves to relax outdoors when the sun is shining.

Polly Nabarro**

Polly Nabarro**

Head of Mentoring and Families

Andy Masters*

Head of Outreach and Courses

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, then managed the team. He now heads up Back Up’s services including the Outreach and Courses teams which organise and deliver residential courses, telephone support and wheelchair skills at hospitals and throughout 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*

Head of Outreach and Courses

Andy Adamson*

Back Up To Work Manager

Andy has overall responsibility for our Back to work service. He has worked at Back up for more than three 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*

Back Up To Work Manager

Ally Ward

Courses Manager

Ally joined Back Up in 2008 and had no prior knowledge of spinal cord injury, but she knew from her first interview that Back Up was the kind of place where she wanted to work! Ally manages a small team who coordinate and deliver our life-changing adult and youth courses. Looking after our awesome volunteer group leaders is one of her favourite tasks, as well as the challenge of putting the calendar together. Ally has recently embraced a new role as a mummy and returned from maternity leave in July.

Ally Ward

Ally Ward

Courses Manager

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

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

Ollie Thorn*

Outreach and Support Coordinator

Ollie works in our Outreach and Support team, covering both Sheffield and Pinderfields spinal injury units. He coordinates all our wheelchair skills sessions at these units. Ollie also reaches out to people after they finish their rehabilitation, initially to check in and see how individuals are doing. He then follows those people up and refers them through to our other services, such as courses or mentoring. 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*

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**

Family & U18 Mentoring Senior Coordinator

Born and bred in London, Charlie’s role at Back Up is to match family members and children and young people with spinal cord injury with volunteer mentors. 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**

Family & U18 Mentoring Senior Coordinator

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

Andrew Dickinson**

Family Support Senior Coordinator

Andrew spent a week in a wheelchair at Oxford University in support of a close family member who had a spinal cord injury. This led to him volunteering as a mentor and eventually he became a full-time staff member in 2015. As the Family Support Senior Coordinator, he provides support for family members of people with a spinal cord injury. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys cycling, playing squash and singing – he won the Scottish Young Musician of the Year Award in 2012! He uses his melodious voice to brighten up people’s days in the office, often unrequested.

Andrew Dickinson**

Andrew Dickinson**

Family Support Senior 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 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*

Courses Coordinator

Merryn works with Andy and Karim to ensure the smooth running of our full calendar of courses. 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*

Courses Coordinator

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

Paula Akpan

Communications Coordinator

Paula is a member of our Communications team, helping make sure that the incredible work done by Back Up’s staff, volunteers and fundraisers gets the attention it deserves through channels such as e-newsletters, social media, our bi-annual magazine Transform. Outside of work, Paula is involved with a number of community-based projects, particularly within the black and LGBTQ+ communities. When not working or volunteering, she can be found in bed scouring ASOS for clothes she most likely does not need.

Paula Akpan

Paula Akpan

Communications Coordinator

The Fundraising Team

Sean McCallion*

Head of Fundraising

Sean works in our fundraising team and looks after our corporate partnerships. 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

James Marshall

Trust Fundraiser

James works as part of the Trusts team, managing relations with Charitable Trusts. As part of his role, he carries out research, writes grant proposals and keeps donors updated on the difference their contribution makes. James joined Back Up in 2016 following a period working abroad. Outside of work, James is a bookworm who enjoys travel and walks in green spaces. His other interests include museums and he has, in the past, been a volunteer at a Central London museum. James does not like mushrooms, despite being vegetarian (shocker!)

James Marshall

James Marshall

Trust Fundraiser

Alex Provan**

Community and Services Assistant

Alex joined the team towards the end of 2016. She works in our Community Fundraising team with Kat, supporting all our amazing fundraisers with their challenges to raise money for Back Up! Alex has a strong personal connection to spinal cord injury as her sister sustained an injury at a young age. Outside of work, she loves travelling. Alex has spent many years abroad on long trips around the world and is currently on country number 49! She also has an unusual penchant for both watching and playing snooker (and a serious crush on Ronnie O’Sullivan).

Alex Provan**

Alex Provan**

Community and Services Assistant

Tim Farr*

Corporate Partnerships Manager

Tim has looked after our corporate partnerships for the last couple of years recently stepping up as Manager. Prior to this, he worked in our outreach team where he supported people with 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 Prince

Events and Challenge Manager

Emma is our Events and Challenge Manager. She manages all of our special events which include the City Dinner, Front Row and the Back Up Ball and works with Alex on all our challenge events including The Push and London to Paris. These events are a great way of getting all of our supporters and donors together to celebrate Back Up and help us raise vital funds which go towards delivering our brilliant services. Out of work, Emma loves a good country walk, enjoying a few country pub stops along the way.

Emma Prince

Emma Prince

Events and Challenge Manager

The Finance & Operations Team

Salvatore LaMonica

Head of Finance & 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 & Operations

Tara Rakhes

Finance & Operations Administrator

Tara has been working with the finance and operations team since March and officially became our permanent administrator 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 & Operations Administrator

Auxilia Malta

Office Administrator

Lia supports all staff in keeping our IT services, Administration, Health and Safety procedures and HR running smoothly. She also supports our CEO and Board of Trustees. Lia is originally from Brazil and has a degree in Law and Administration. In her spare time Lia loves to use her creative side in arts and crafts. She also volunteers as an adviser with other charities, supporting parents and carers with children and young people with special educational needs.

Auxilia Malta

Auxilia Malta

Office Administrator


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