Board of trustees

The Learning Disability England board is made up of trustees/directors.

The Board makes sure Learning Disability England does a good job.

It is chosen by the Representative Body.

Our Board Members are:
Debbie NeillDebbie Neill is Director of Support for Advance UK. Debbie has over 20 years experience working in health and social care, firstly in commissioning roles with Huntingdonshire PCT and Cambridgeshire County Council before moving into the private sector in 2003. Debbie’s area of interest and experience was the commissioning and delivery of community based services for adults and children with disabilities. She has been a trustee of Crossroads and a voluntary non-executive director for a not for profit organisation which provides social care support for adults with learning difficulties. Debbie has always held a strong interest in ensuring people are able to access community services regardless of their ability.

As Managing Director of Careforce, Debbie played an instrumental role in the successful floatation of the company on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange. Debbie then led the growth and development of the business taking it from 24 to 52 branches through acquisition, successful tender bids and organic growth. She has held 2 other director roles in large support organisations.
Jan WamsleyJan Walmsley is a self employed academic. Her particular interests are inclusive research, self advocacy, and the history of learning disabilities. In 1994 she co-founded the Social History of Learning Disability Research Group at the Open University which pioneered inclusive approaches to recording and sharing the history of learning disability - the Group celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2019. Jan also coordinated the LDE Academics.
Jodie WilliamsJodie is the Vice Chair of Trustees.
Jodie lives in Sunderland which is in the North East of the country.
Jodie says -
People say that I am hardworking and very reliable, I do great job of supporting other people, brilliant at using different ways of communicating with people, am kind and generous and have a great sense of humour.

I am a Director of a company called Sunderland People First which is a self-advocacy company. The work I do there is to support others to have a voice, to make sure that people with a learning disability have good lives. I have lots of experience of working with organisations that deliver services and support people with learning disabilities, for example other community/ self-advocacy companies and groups, NHS England, Local councils, and local CCGs and Health trusts.
I am really involved in Transforming Care work locally, regionally and nationally and have been an expert by experience advisor at Care and Treatment reviews since the Transforming Care Programme began in the North East back in 2014.

Other work I do, extra to my work at Sunderland People First, am an expert advisor on the NHS Learning Disability and Autism advisory group and a Director for Inclusion North.

I am delighted to be a trustee with Learning disability England as I want to make sure that lives of people with a learning disability are improved and people are heard and that the government listens.

Lisa Hopkins
Lisa is Chief Executive at SeeAbility. SeeAbility is a charity which supports people with learning disabilities, autism, and sight loss. Lisa began her career in Canada as a Support Worker and subsequently became a Behaviour Consultant working alongside people whose behaviour was described as challenging. Prior to taking up her role at SeeAbility, Lisa was Managing Director at Dimensions UK, where she worked for 9 years.

Liz Tilly
Liz is strongly committed to the full inclusion of people with learning disabilities in all aspects of life, and has had regular professional and social contact with people with learning disabilities for over 40 years.
Liz is the founder and director of Building Bridges Training, a social enterprise of people with a learning disability which provides training and does research focused on making a difference to people with a learning disability. Liz also works part time as a senior lecturer in social care at the University of Wolverhampton. She also set up and is a trustee and volunteer with the charity Jigsaw Events which provides people with social and leisure opportunities.

Previously she founded and for twenty years was Chief Executive of a voluntary organisation in the West Midlands which provided a wide range of services and opportunities for people with learning disabilities. Prior to this, her career was in special education.
Paula BraynionPaula has been MD with Future Directions since it was founded. Previously worked as Director of Operations, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Nursing in the NHS. Paula is passionate about ensuring Future Directions is a values led organisation and these values are lived out at every level of the organisation. Paula believes that living out the values will make a real positive difference to peoples lives. Worked as a Nurse Therapist and Nurse Consultant in medium and low secure care for a number of years. Moved to Pennine Care as Deputy Director of Nursing and was appointed as Service Director, Specialist Services in rehabilitation and high support, CAMHS and drug and alcohol services in 2007.

Sarah Maguire
LDE Chair
Sarah is Learning Disability England’s Chairperson. She is also Chief Executive at Choice Support. Choice Support supports nearly 2,500 people with learning disabilities and other social care support needs. Sarah has worked with people with learning disabilities for almost 30 years. Her work began supporting people to move out of long stay institutions in the 1980’s. Sarah has been a training manager, an Operations Director and the Director of Quality and Safeguarding for Choice Support. Sarah is part of the steering committee for the Driving up Quality Alliance and a founder Board member of the Association of Quality Checkers.


We are a small staff team because we want to work alongside our members and bring people together, rather than trying to do everything ourselves.

Meet our team:

About membership


Learning Disability England is bringing people and organisations together to create a movement for change where people with learning disabilities, families, friends and paid supporters come together on an equal basis.