This page provides details about VICTA trustees, patrons, and staff. Without their help VICTA would not be as successful as it is.
Michel Roux Jr
Michel Roux Jr took over the helm at the world famous Michelin starred Le Gavroche in 1991. Since then, Michel has won numerous awards for his cuisine and has continued to set the standard for classical French fine dining in London. Prior to Le Gavroche, Michel honed his skills working for master chefs in Paris, Lyon, Hong Kong and London, spending two years with Alain Chapel and cooking at the Elysee Palace for President Mitterand. Michel is also a judge alongside Greg Wallace on Masterchef: The Professionals. Michel has been a great supporter of VICTA Children for many years, he continues to run in the London Marathon and BUPA 10K raising money to help us to provide our services.
Mardy Smith OBE
Mardy worked at New College Worcester (NCW), a residential school for students who are blind or partially sighted for 27 years, including the last 13 years as Principal. She retired at Christmas 2016 but maintains her commitment to ensuring young people who are blind or partially sighted have a wide range of opportunities and challenges. In addition to such experiences resulting in enjoyment and achievement, the positive impact on self-esteem and self-confidence is invaluable and Mardy is pleased to be able to support VICTA in their work with young people and their families.
VICTA Trustees Biographies
VICTA trustees give their time freely and for the benefit of the charity. VICTA trustees:
- Advise the charity and to provide the benefit of their experience in attaining the aims and objectives of the charity.
- Ensure the charity complies with the legislation and all statutory requirements and to safeguard the charity’s assets.
- Are our charity’s advocates and ambassadors.
Pamela Lewis – Chair
Pamela has been involved with the VICTA since its inception and worked closely with John Brookes, a founder of the charity, who managed the London Marathon fundraising during the years 1993 to 2007. She is a qualified accountant with an MBA and during her young years built up a business, then lectured in accountancy and business administration at university level, and worked for UNESCO returning to the UK in 1984. On her return she established an accountancy practice, which she has now passed on to her daughter. Since then she has continued to provide advice as a consultant to start up businesses. She has a stake in a number of diverse businesses, including one of the leading environmental engineering design consultancies in the UK and US which specialises in the built environment for whom she acts as Finance Director. Pamela held the post of ‘Charity and Company Secretary’ at VICTA for many years, managing the day to day finances and administration of the charity, advising on administrative and financial matters and taking on responsibility for legal and statutory matters. Pamela now takes on a new role within the charity as Chair of the VICTA Board of Trustees.
Richard was Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Open University and is a former Professor of Accountancy at Aberystwyth University. He is currently active as an international consultant in quality assurance in higher education. He brings to VICTA both his background in finance and quality assurance. He was Treasurer of Action Aid UK and a number of other National charities. He was previously Chairman of the VICTA Board and now sits as a Trustee with special responsibility for finance.
Elizabeth is the mother of three children, the youngest, William who is now 26 years old is visually impaired. She, together with her husband own and manage a working farm. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the difficulties that families face in bringing up and educating children who are blind and partially sighted. Elizabeth is a member of the VICTA Trustees with special responsibility for our grant programme.
Matthew brings the perspective of a young partially sighted person to the board, with the experience of his and his family’s use of VICTA services as he has grown up. A former student of New College Worcester, Matthew now resides in Glasgow, studying History and Business Management at Glasgow University. His extra-curricular activities have exemplified the development of graduate attributes and earned him a feature in the university’s Careers Guide. They include partaking in and leading the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, working at Citizens Advice and volunteering for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He has found further education extremely challenging and during a year out in 2014-15 gained his first paid work in the technology and education industry, working with EDINA (part of the Jisc family) at the University of Edinburgh. Matthew works to improve issues important to blind and partially sighted young people within VICTA, as part of Haggeye – Scotland’s forum for blind and partially sighted young people – and since beginning campaigning with the Liberal Democrats in the 2015 General Election.
Estella is an accredited resolution specialist family lawyer and works in a niche family law firm in London. Estella first became involved with VICTA when she applied to run the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon. Since running for VICTA, she has become involved in supporting our children, young people and their families by volunteering at our family weekends and international trips. We were delighted that Estella agreed to become a trustee in 2014 and she takes a special interest and has responsibility for working with our Chief Executive to plan the activities programme.
Christian is Managing Director of the Highfield Group who are a dedicated supporter of VICTA providing marathon runners and volunteers each year along with generous amounts of fundraising. Chris has personally run the marathon many times for VICTA and is passionate about the organisation. Chris brings significant business knowledge across a range of industries including education, elearning, retail, design and publishing.
Gurvinder is a Solicitor in the area of Special Educational Needs Law and is one of the few solicitors in this field with expertise in the differing jurisdictions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. She has over 12 years experience in this niche area and exclusively represents children, young adults and their families in securing access to state funded provision including specialist school and college placements. She regularly challenges EHCPs in the SEN Tribunal forum. Her expertise has been recognised in the UK Courts more widely, where she now acts as expert witness on SEN Law, EHCPs and related public law issues.
Gurvinder first became involved with VICTA in 2015 providing information sessions on parental rights in SEN at the VICTA annual family weekends and continues to have a presence at these. Having become a Trustee in 2018, Gurvinder is looking forward to volunteering at our other activities over the course of the year. Gurvinder brings significant legal knowledge as well as insight into regional issues that families face in securing access to services and specialist provision.
Our Members of staff
Tracie Tappenden – Chief Executive
Tracie joined VICTA as a family support worker in 2002. She is married with four children, one of whom is blind. All of her children are now grown up and her experience living with a blind child is invaluable to the charity. She has been the Chief Executive of the charity since 2008, and in this role manages the charity and its’ staff on a day-to-day basis. She is also responsible for the introduction of the family and youth activities and plays a large part in their selection and management. In 2015 Tracie was appointed as Deputy Chair on the VISION 2020 Children and Young People Sub Committee.
Nick Schofield – Director, Strategy, Communications and Fundraising
Nick started his working life in the City with a five-year posting in Singapore. Before returning to the UK, he took a year-long sabbatical in India where he worked for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Nick has a Masters in Communications Management and built a communications and messaging framework for use within the Tibetan community. Nick became involved with VICTA as a trustee bringing his marketing skills to the board. He now joins VICTA as a Director of Strategy, Communications and Fundraising.
Design Communications and Office Manager
Lead Activities Coordinator
Children, Young People and Families Activities Coordinator
Manager of Through Scarlett’s Eyes
Young Ambassadors 2018
VICTA is focused on helping young people develop the skills needed within the workplace. Our Young Ambassadors programme provides participants with opportunities to engage on projects designed to strengthen employability and build business understanding. As members of VICTA’s editorial board, the team has responsibility for the creation and production of the VICTA newsletter – a platform for highlighting personal challenges, endeavour and successes.
Young Ambassador Intern
Idil is one of the six young ambassadors on the VICTA Young Ambassador Programme and is currently on a six-month voluntary internship with the charity. She will be involved with the planning and delivery of the Young Ambassador Programme and assist with other general administrative tasks in the VICTA office.
Idil is an active VICTA service user and was part of VICTA’s first cultural discovery trip to Thailand and knows from personal experience how significant VICTA activities are in reducing the emotional stress that young people experience within their efforts to conquer life with a visual impairment. She is very excited to have the opportunity to contribute her personal experiences within education and employment to the Young Ambassador Programme, to help inspire other VI young individuals to reach their maximum potential. As a recent graduate, she will use this voluntary internship to further develop the skills, knowledge and experience required for her to successfully secure a place on a Human Resources Graduate Scheme.
Young Ambassador 2018
Michael was born and raised in South Africa, where he was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia. He moved to the UK with family three and a half years ago and here continued his education, completing his A-levels last year. He enjoys music and is an enthusiastic drummer/percussionist and organist and has played a significant part in his school’s cultural life.
Michael is currently looking for an accounting apprenticeship, but ultimately hopes to run his own business. Michael applied to join the VICTA Young Ambassador programme as he felt it would be an exciting opportunity to take on a different challenge and learn some new skills other than those acquired during his formal education. He hopes this will be a valuable addition to his CV and support him towards finding the right job. It also presented an opportunity for him to make his contribution to improving understanding and opportunities for the visually impaired in the workplace. Michael hopes that his education and previous experiences will allow him to be an effective contributor to this exciting venture, and moreover, looks forward to the experience he will gain from being part of it.
Young Ambassador 2018
Claire lives in Coventry where she volunteers for Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind. In 2017 she started her own music blog called Country Song after having contributed to several other blogs for a number of years. Her hobbies aside from writing include listening to and playing music (mandolin, guitar and singing), reading, walking and travelling. Claire’s love of writing attracted her to the programme and she hopes that it will move her forward into pursuing a career in music journalism.
Young Ambassador 2018
Alex is 26 and feels incredibly honoured to be chosen as a VICTA Young Ambassador. She is excited to start her role researching inspiring stories and bringing news and information to VICTA readers. Alex applied to be part of the programme as, being a visually impaired young person herself, she has sometimes felt as though there are a lack of positive role models for people her age. Alex has come to realise that you don’t have to be a super hero to inspire others and that, as a business owner, she has much to contribute.
Alex looks forward to using the skills and experience that she gains from the Young Ambassador Programme to expand her soap making business ‘The Blind Soap Maker’ and to take it to the next step. Most of all, in the process of doing so, and through the Young Ambassador Magazine, Alex hopes to inspire others to believe that the impossible is actually possible.
Young Ambassador 2018
Elin is a 19-years-old VICTA Young Ambassador who is currently studying a BA (Hons) degree in Arts & Humanities with The Open University. She has an aptitude for writing and aspires to pursue a career in journalism. One of her main interests is blogging; she has her own personal blog called ‘My Blurred World’, which she created just over three years ago. Elin’s blog focuses on beauty, fashion, life and disability related topics.
Elin decided to join the VICTA Young Ambassador programme as she sees it as a fantastic opportunity to express her passion for writing. She also values the great opportunity that the VICTA Young Ambassador programme will provide her in allowing her to meet new visually impaired individuals and make a new social group of friends. She is very much looking forward to what she will achieve on the VICTA Young Ambassador programme over the year.
Young Ambassador 2018
Robert is 20 years old and after spending the first five years of his life in Kent, he then moved to the island of Borneo where he lived for 14 years. In Brunei, Robert attended an international school and was the youngest lead role in a school play, at the age of 6. Performing Arts has remained his passion to this day. When he lost his sight due to a hypothalamic brain tumour, Robert had to develop his own methods in order to pursue his passion for acting, writing and singing. Working with directors he was able to play parts that were adjusted to fit his visual needs.
Subsequently, Robert trained to run acting workshops for visually impaired actors and those with additional needs. This resulted in a great deal of self growth as he had to be flexible and adapt the way that he taught in order to engage the VI students and successfully enable them to overcome any feelings of inadequacy, and build their self-esteem and technical skills.
As a VICTA Young Ambassador, Robert intends to research and publicise accessible opportunities for young VI people. His aim is for everyone to be supported to achieve their full potential and ensure that no one is side-lined due to impairments; for the world to embrace young VI people and optimise their opportunities to smile and to shine.
Dr. Bochao Zhou
Dr. Bochao Zhou is currently working as a research fellow at City, University of London. His research is focused on developing a range of optical fibre sensors for a variety of industrial applications. He has been working closely with children’s charities and government sponsored organisations across P.R. China and is running a marathon club for business elites and manages charity communications and fundraising both in the UK and overseas. Dr. Bochao Zhou is a member of the Institute of Physics, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Royal Over-Seas League and Institute of Tourist Guiding in the UK.
Tony Bebbington worked closely with VICTA for many years during his time working with Action for Blind People in the UK until moving to the USA to fulfil his potential of living and working in Florida. He is now a successful Company Director, enjoying his life there with his wife and children. He remains a loyal supporter of VICTA and continues to be impressed by the effective and ambitious nature of VICTA.