Meet the Trustees

The Friends and Families of Special Children Trustees are a team of professionals that come from a range of backgrounds including Social Work, Youth Work, Counselling, Law, Finance and Corporate Hospitality. Alongside the Trustees are partners from Health, Education, Social Care and the Voluntary sector who help to ensure that we offer a multidisciplinary approach and a broad range of services.

Kay O’Shaughnessy

Chair of Trustees

Much of my working life has been spent in Social Care, Training and Employment and running my own businesses. I gained a Post Graduate Business Degree at Plymouth University. I am married to Michael and have four children, one of who is profoundly disabled and requires full care. I am a founder member of Friends and Families of Special Children and have been involved in campaigning, developing and shaping national and locally strategy and provision for families with disabled children.

Jonathon Morcom


I was born and educated in Plymouth. I am a Director of Eventwest, a Company running Plymouth’s closed road running events, Britain’s Ocean City Half Marathon, 5k and 10k, Great South West Sportive and the Devon Business show. For 18 years I was the joint owner and Director of The Duke of Cornwall Hotel, previously I set up from its Inception a 24 bed-roomed hotel in Wells Somerset, Food and Beverages Manager at Plymouth Pavilions and The Royal Western Yacht Club before the Management Buy Out of the DOCH in 2001. I am married with two sons and I have been involved with the charity since its launch and engage with fundraising and organising social events as much as possible.

Robert Lang


Plymouth born and educated at Plymouth College prior to joining the practice of Constable & Son as articled pupil to the late Jimmie Constable in 1970. Subsequently, I established Lang & Co. estate agents in 1993. I have always been involved in the local community and am a past member of Round Table and the Port of Plymouth Junior Chamber of Commerce which staged the annual Lord Mayor’s Day, introduced the Plymouth Marathon, Military Tattoo and successfully lobbied for the construction of the Tamar Bridge.

Ashleigh Phillips


I am a Chartered Surveyor with over 23 years’ experience in commercial property. My career has encompassed roles in both private and public sectors in the south west and across southern England. I returned to my hometown of Plymouth in 2004 and after working for local practices, I am now the Manager of the Bruton Knowles Plymouth office.

I was educated at Plymouth College and subsequently the University of Glamorgan. I am a former Chairman of Plymouth Round Table and still involved. I enjoy playing cricket and racket sports. Sadly widowed, I have a grown up son.

Amanda Lyons


I was proud to become a Trustee of Friends and Families in April 2019. I am a Partner in local law firm Gard & Co and practice family law and have done since I qualified. I have two young boys so in my spare time we like to explore and swim as much as we can……hunting for dragons is always a winner!

Steve Parker


I have over 25 years’ experience working within law enforcement.  I have spent the majority of my service within investigative roles and have significant experience of leading safeguarding enquiries and working within safeguarding partnerships across the South West. 

I was born in Plymouth and following a period travelling with my father’s work, returned to the city and attended Plympton Grammar School.  After studying for A levels I attended Essex University and gained a degree in Economics and Government.  I then spent a short spell working within the licensed trade before returning once again to work in Plymouth.

My wife Gill and I have three sons, aged 12 to 18.  In my youth I was a keen racing cyclist, but now restrict myself to more leisurely bike rides both on and off road.  I also enjoy watching my beloved Plymouth Argyle and listening to live music.  I also have a particular affection for strong coffee. 

My eldest son has cerebral palsy and he, and indeed the whole family, has benefited greatly from participating in the range of activities available through Friends and Families.

Gwen James


Born and educated in the Plymouth area and although I have mostly lived here, I also spent some time living in Cumbria and Portsmouth. Married with 3 children, 3 grandchildren and two dogs. My background is in Banking where I worked in a wide variety of roles for more than 30 years.

Following redundancy, I had 18 months spending more time with my family before returning to work in a part time PA role. During this time, I was also able to become closer to the FAF charity helping in a small way with fund raising. Delighted to have been asked to become a Trustee and hope that I can bring my organisational skills and enthusiasm to good use.

What our friends and families say...

“My time has helped me by showing me that I’m not on my own, I’m not a rubbish mum and it’s ok to ask for help. I don’t need to have all the answers and it’s ok not to be ok.

It’s shown me there is no right or wrong way, just your way – if it works then that’s good, if not then the group can offer a different way of thinking about things that might help.

There is no judgement, no criticism and no expectations. It’s a place where I’m able to admit defeat or celebrate the positive and gain encouragement for both.

Above all, it’s a place of acceptance, appreciation and understanding of how hard being a parent is for all of us!”

Miriam – January 2021

“We have been service users and Friends and Families of Special Children for nearly 7 years. They have been with us though some truly challenging times, but also some truly fabulous ones too. 

As a family we access, the Adventure Club, Youth Adventurers, Fun and Freedom Club and, where appropriate, family activities too, We all thoroughly enjoy the activities on offer and eagerly await the release of new ones.

We have taken part in activities and events that would not have been possible without Friends and Families.           

Over the years we have made long standing friendships with other families, as well as the staff, who we would be lost without. The support they provide through events, activities, help with form filling and giving general advice is invaluable to us and other families like ours. 

This year has been tough for everyone for so many reasons, and yet we have stayed in touch. Having the zoom activities and ongoing email connections means we always felt supported. I hope Heidi knows how much her dedication, planning and hard work is appreciated.”

Sam – December 2020

Thankyou family and friends for being there for me it’s been unbelievable, but you guys are always there for a chat or advice xx 


Thank you, as always, for a fantastic event. Daisy had a great time x

Andy Smith”


Morgan had a fantastic time this is her 2nd time of joining fun and freedom activities and is enjoying it very much and looks forward to the next so thank you 

Charlie Harris”


These guys are absolutely amazing! If you are a family with a SEN child this charity is great to connect with. There is activities provided for different groups; children with additional needs, children with severe additional needs, siblings of Sen children and family activities. Plus they are an important hub of any information you may need. Oscar is part of their ‘adventure club’ and this gives him bags of opportunities to access so many different things – pizza making at Prezzo, archery, day trips out, access to a hydro pool. Just to name a very small amount. No judging, full support and a chance to connect to other families just like ours 

Jolene Cumes”


Lovely activities for both the children with send and the rest of the families. The workers really understand the situation and are very supportive. We have used the lending library and family support services. Thank you for allowing my youngest to have a break from being a carer 

Chloe Botterill”


Attended a session about sensory processing, was very well presented. Loved the idea of practical experiments putting yourself into a child with processing disorders shoes to see the world from their point of view. Really helpful information.

Donna Potter (parent) Jan 2020

I would highly recommend friends and family of special children. I think all the staff are fantastic, very friendly, helpful and do an amazing job. as a family with 3 sen children you guys are a god send with the activities and workshops you put on for families and the children. We really love the lending library and wish we had found you guys years ago. It would have saved us loads money lol. Thank you and keep up all the good hard work. You help us so much as a family 😍 x

Helen Blaco October 2019

“The emotional support I received from my befriender was fantastic and the opportunity to off load and reveal my concerns and fears was like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”

Gareth Allen (parent)

Absolutely amazing charity that offer amazing support to the whole family and lovely breaks for the siblings. My daughter has benefited from days out with the fun and freedom club and adores Brett as he always makes her smile and feel comfortable. My son has autism and ADHD so sometimes life can be a little stressful for her so a days break away to enjoy herself with other children who experience similar things is amazing. It gives her a chance to play and be herself. The family events are always so fantastic as well and so are the events for the disabled child. Friends and family really are such an amazing charity that really cares. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.

Jodie Jones (parent) June 2018

“Not only does the charity provide exciting experiences for the children but can also help with much needed support for the parents.  Being a parent of a disabled child can at times be very lonely and isolating.  To meet with other parents on these activity days is a breath of fresh air and helps you to realise that there are many other people like you facing the similar day to day challenges of having a disabled child.  From our personal experiences we can share stories, offer help and advice and even make new friends.”

January 2018

“Thank you to all staff for looking after our kids at Magdalen Farm. Oliver has really enjoyed himself and can’t wait till the next time.”

August 2017

“What a fantastic friendly welcoming place. We visited for the first time this morning for help to fill in a DLA form for our eldest daughter. We were given great help and advice with something we found very overwhelming and difficult.”

February 2017

“It was the best day ever being able to go swimming as a family with her little sister who can only use a hydrotherapy pool. We’re so grateful we can have unforgettable days out thanks to the events you put on. We can thank you enough.”

May 2016

“Thank you, yet again, to Friends & Families of Special Children for providing opportunities for my son that I never thought he would be able to do.  During the summer he was able to have surfing lessons and enjoy other water sport activities organised by the charity.   When we arrive at the sessions they are always very well planned and as parents we have no explaining to do and even better no apologising for our child’s behaviour!  The staff have an amazing understanding and empathy on the needs of various disabilities of the children and this helps to keep everyone relaxed and happy including the parents/carers!”

October 2015

Activity Calendar

All face-to-face events have been postponed at this time. We are however running Zoom sessions on an individual and group basis. Sessions are available for the whole family. If you're looking for advice, support, or a general get together, please get in touch to schedule | 01752 204369.

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