In 1997, following my daughter’s Asperger diagnosis at the Maudsley, I found that none of the services they recommended existed in Essex, so I founded SAFE to provide a place where families could meet and discuss the issues which concerned them and their children.
SAFE became a charity in 2002 and I was elected Chair. In 2010 I was elected Lifetime President. Apart from running ASAP (Asperger Syndrome Adults and Parents), I now concentrate on advocacy and campaigning for our Asperger community, as well as talking at conferences and seminars, raising awareness of this most enigmatic autistic condition. With our help, and the support of parents, I have seen the progress many of our Aspies have made over time, and I am proud to be associated with SAFE, having seen it grow from a small ‘comfort group’ into the respected charity it now is.
My background includes 20 years in farming and 20 years as a Baptist minister. I became involved with SAFE when my son, Sam, received a diagnosis of Aspergers while in senior school, and my wife Jane has been actively involved with SAFE South for a number of years.
I hope to bring a degree of encouragement and support to the group.
After getting a degree in electrical engineering at Bristol University I worked as an engineer and then manager for the Central Electricity Generating Board followed by a period with National Grid in Rayleigh. I gained experience in budgeting and financial control during the latter years at work. I was treasurer of a local tennis club in my youth and I have been treasurer of the local National Grid retired group since 2010.
I am married with two children, a boy and a girl who have left home. My wife and I are now bringing up our grandson who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, ADHD and mild OCD in 2012 when he was 12. We joined SAFE in that year.
I was elected treasurer in 2014. I hope to be able to use my experience to contribute to the work and aims of SAFE.
I have a son with Asperger syndrome and sit on the SAFE South Committee. I am heavily involved in SAFE Stuff on a Saturday morning.
I work in London as an Advertising Manager, selling space and sponsorship online, offline in magazines and on TV. Before this I was a financial adviser for 12 years.
I also manage to drag my aching limbs round the football pitch once a week and also still play cricket. I have been an Executive member of SAFE since 2007.
Fern is originally from Essex, New Jersey, and started her professional life as a dancer. After graduating from Rutgers University where she studied Dance and Education, she moved to New York City to continue her professional dance activities whilst supporting her career doing various jobs including working as a researcher for National Opinion Research Center (part of University of Chicago). From starting as an interviewer, she progressed to middle management in charge of multi-million dollar projects and large staff teams. After five years, she decided to re-focus on her dancing career which including overseas touring and teaching. This is where she met and married Clive, and moved to England – first working as a peripatetic teacher and teacher trainer in dance at numerous schools in Essex, before becoming Director of Essexdance (the county agency for dance development). She currently works as Director of Development for New English Ballet Theatre and has been active in the field of arts fundraising and development over the past 15 years. She is also a regular lecturer for City University London’s MA Arts Management programme and a freelance trainer.
I joined the executive in 2016 having seen first-hand the importance of SAFE’s work in relation to our teenage son. I live in west Essex where most activities for people with an autistic spectrum condition are limited according to which council area you live in, and are exclusively for young people, mainly children. I am strongly committed to SAFE’s genuinely inclusive approach and the fact that it provides support for people of all ages. I have a daughter who likes to talk about everything, to balance out my son who says he “doesn’t do pointless chat”, and there are other members of my family who, while undiagnosed, do suspect they have an ASC. I work as a solicitor in a town centre firm dealing with estates, trusts and wills, after spending a good few years representing people bringing medical negligence claims. My previous experience includes working for Citizens’ Advice, in the civil service, as a partner in a city law firm, a school governor and currently a parish councillor. As a trustee/executive member my aim is to support the development of SAFE, to enable it to reach as many potential members as possible, and to make sure that the perspective of people with Asperger’s and HFA is better understood in the future.
Sean is a non-voting non-trustee member of the Executive Committee. Sean was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome / Autistic Spectrum Disorder at the age of thirty in February 2015. Sean was invited to join the Executive Committee to provide a perspective from an adult with autism. Sean benefits from his attendence at the SAFE SPA (Social Participation for Aspergers Group) in Southend, to which he was introduced to when the local mental health service closed down their own structured leisure activities group and massively cut their occupational therapy service. In addition to Asperger Syndrome, Sean also suffers from Type 1 Diabetes and depression.