With some recent changes on both the Trustee Board and with the staff team, we thought it was time to re-introduce ourselves.
The Trustees are a bunch of volunteers whose role it is to run the charity, making sure it does what it was set up to do but also complies with the legal framework for charities. We are limb-different ourselves, or are the parents, friends and family of many limb-different community members. We volunteer for our trustee roles because we care about Reach and believe that what it stands for – bringing together children and young people with upper limb differences and helping them to live their best and most brilliant lives – is exceptionally important, and we value being part of this supportive community.
We are supported by currently one person in head office who is working full time.
REACH Trustee Board:
Chris Creamer – Chair
When our son Colm was born with a limb difference in 1991, my wife Rita searched for a support group. We found a very small group interested in Reach and we became instrumental in starting Reach Ireland. As a member, Branch Co-ordinator, Trustee for 18 years and Chairman for 3 years, we worked to see Reach grow and develop to become the influential organisation that it is now. We enjoyed the successes of Reach AGMs/Family Weekends, including hosting 2 in Ireland. We participated in Reach Quiz Nights when the late Jeremy Beadle was our Patron. We assisted Frank Letch with the introduction of the highly successful Reach Activity Week (RAW) from Millenium Year (2000) to now, thereby bringing relevance to Reach in the lives of our teenagers and young adults. Many of those have returned to Reach and are exemplary participants in the activities of Reach.
So my interest in once more becoming a Trustee stems from bringing my skills, experience and knowledge to assist with the furtherance our Reach Objectives, As a former Primary School Teacher, Marketing Manager in the largest learning disability organisation in Ireland and later as a Lecturer in Third Level Education, I believe I have something to offer.
Ruth Lester – Co Vice Chair
Ruth Lester, OBE, FRCS
Over the last 30 years, I have had the privilege of working as an NHS consultant plastic surgeon mainly with children and their families.
The activities which children with upper limb differences ‘can do’, has always been revealing, fascinating and humbling. Having retired from active surgical practice, I wanted to use my time and the skills acquired during my career, to offer continuing support for children and families in a different way.
It has been such an honour to serve as a trustee for the charity ‘REACH” over the last 5 years. Reach continues to fulfill a significant supportive role for many of the children and families which I worked with at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I have so much enjoyed being part of the Reach family and am delighted to continue in my role as trustee, maintaining the links between the healthcare professionals and the members of the charity. I am particularly concerned about the lack of support and information when new parents receive the surprising news of their child having an upper limb difference and am working with you all to improve this.
A few years ago, I joined an advisory group for ‘Music Makers”, a pilot project of ‘OHMI’ – a charity which enables music making for the physically disabled. I am now one of their trustees. I am also currently a trustee of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity, which supports the work of the hospital which cannot be paid for by the NHS. Both these organizations complement the work of Reach – and I’m learning a lot about the third sector…
I live in the middle of Birmingham with my husband. I have 3 children, 3 stepchildren, 3 grandchildren and 2 step grandchildren (and 2 Bengal cats) – so life is never dull! I continue to enjoy doing some teaching at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital and supporting the development of Children’s Hand Services locally, nationally, and sometimes internationally! Music has always formed an important part of my life and I am continuing to enjoy playing the violin and re learning the piano.
I am a Reach parent who’s Reach child is now 21 years old. We have been members since he was born and I have been a trustee previously for 18 years including several periods as Chairman and Vice-Chairman. I live in Surrey and work in Public Sector IT.
I have a wide range of IT and Project management skills and extensive experience in charity governance gained over 25 years in roles including School Governor, Reach and other non-profit organisations.
As a trustee I will work to rebuild the family feel of Reach and recruit new head office staff who can empathise and support our members as did the previous staff. I will ensure that the staff are valued and enabled to run the charity on a day to day basis without interference but supported by the trustees.
I would also like to see the Branch Co-ordinatiors and branches strengthened and look to continue to expand opportunities for members to meet. I would like to see increased opportunities for the older Reach child 14-18 who are the charities future and the 18-25 year old Reach Children who have a lot to offer the charity whether it is as a mentor for the Reach Activity Week, helping with workshops at the Family Weekend or simply as a role model but they also deserve to be supported with activities to help them grow and enhance their experiences.
Julie Detheridge – Acting Treasurer
My Reach journey began in autumn 1999, shortly after the birth of my son, Matthew. Matthew was born missing his right hand. I found Reach contact details in the NHS pregnancy book. The opportunity to meet other parents at local branch events and at the Annual Family Weekend was really important in those early years and the ability to reciprocate that support to new members is equally as important. In 2007 I became a trustee for Reach, during which time I have seen many changes – from incorporation of the charity, the growth of social media to virtual events such as RAW and the AFW as a result of Covid restrictions.
As a charity, we are very reliant on the support of our members, and their friends and families, to fundraise. Over the last 23 years, along with my family, I have undertaken a variety of fundraising activities from cycle rides (Birmingham to Oxford) to coffee mornings, fashion shows to pudding clubs and more recently running 30k during August 2021 ending with a 5k. As a trustee, I hope I can encourage everyone to help raise money for Reach – as the saying goes ‘Every little helps.’
When not wearing my trustee hat, I work full time as a secondary school teacher (leading a Business Studies department), Reach often features in lessons – organisation structures, branding and my colleagues are always willing to donate to Reach in return for some homemade rocky road…. I am a leader at both a Rainbow and Ranger unit; enjoy dancing, attending musical theatre productions (especially watching my daughter perform) and when time permits, I enjoy a variety of craft activities.
I have been an active member of Reach since the early years of life when my parents joined the charity after I was born with a shorter left arm, attending AGM’s, Reach Activity Weeks and the camping weekends in Wales for over 15 years of my life. I am now an adult mentor on the Reach Activity Week and I have written several articles over the year for Within Reach magazine.
My job roles have consisted of admin roles, retail management, writing and online content creating. I am currently working as a freelance writer and content creator as well as studying a course in counselling. My skills include leadership, accounting, excellent written and verbal communication, creativity, organisation and counselling/mentoring.
Reach charity inspires so many, it breeds confident young children and adults and a family-like environment which makes people feel comfortable and safe and I want to continue to inspire people and help them flourish.
My involvement with Reach continues to evolve in alignment to my desire to give back to a charity that helped me so much during my younger years and I would like it to continue to evolve by being a member of the trustee board.
Reach supported me and my parents and I would love to have the opportunity to give back.
I was born with three digits missing on my right hand (symbrachydactyly). My parents were quickly introduced to Reach – where they received support and advice. We made life-long friends at the annual family weekend and I loved attending RAW (Reach activity week)!
I currently work as the Philanthropy & Individual Giving Lead for a wildlife conservation charity. In my current role, I lead the development and delivery of our individual giving programmes, raising unrestricted income from a variety of channels including appeals, monthly giving, events, adoptions and major gifts. However, I am currently working my three-month notice period and will be transitioning back to a previous employer in the private sector at the end of September. Nevertheless, I believe my experience in the charity sector will support me as a trustee of Reach. I ran the London Marathon for Reach in 2015 (raising c. £2,000) and I often engage with Reach members on our Facebook page, answering questions and sharing my experiences.
My ‘little hand’ as I call it has driven me to achieve more and I would not change it. Reach helped me and my family tremendously and – as a trustee – I would be dedicated to the cause and ensuring that support remains available for the next generation. Thank you.
I became aware of Reach when our second child William was unexpectedly born with ulnar dysplasia in 2019. The help and support that we received from the charity in those early days was incredible. We spoke to someone from Reach when William was just a few days old, a conversation that will always stick with me as they provided us with the guidance and reassurance that we so desperately needed at that time.
We then went along to the Annual Family Weekend when William was a few months old and realised that we are part of a family. Meeting other parents and seeing the incredible things that Reach children can achieve was absolutely brilliant. Now William is a confident, happy child who gets on with life in his own inimitable style and the worries of those early days feel very far away.
We will never be able to repay the debt that we owe to Reach for their support in those early months but I hope that by becoming a Trustee I can be of some help to this great charity.
My day job is as a barrister specialising in personal injury and clinical negligence work. I act mainly for Claimants who have suffered serious, often life changing, injuries; advising and representing them in Court. I live in Leicestershire and am mum to William and his big sister Eliana. If I get any time to myself I enjoy spending it printmaking- mainly linocut and collagraph