The Team

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The Team


Lesley Henderson
Lesley founded The Toby Henderson Trust 15 years ago after her son, Toby (now 21 years) was diagnosed with autism. As the Project Director of the organisation, she has played a pivotal role in offering support to thousands of families over the years. Originally qualified with a Modern Languages degree from the University of Lancaster, her specialist in depth knowledge of autism and the difficulties faced by our families is invaluable to the Trust.

Victoria Broady
Victoria began her journey with The Toby Henderson Trust back in the summer of 2005 when she volunteered on the play scheme during her holidays from university. She quickly realised that she had a great passion for learning about and working with children and young people with ASD. After graduating with a degree in Childhood and Youth Studies and Social Psychology, she became a full time member of staff in September 2006. Victoria has an incredible depth of knowledge and experience gained from the unique and diverse children and young people she has worked with during her time with the trust. She is now Director of Care Services and uses her extensive knowledge and expertise to support the staff, the children and their families at the trust.

Emma Anderson
Emma has been with us since 2013 and is an Intensive Interaction Play worker at the Trust. She grew up in North Northumberland and successfully gained a BA(Hons) degree in Childhood Studies at The University of Sunderland.  Emma works one to one with children in the playroom supporting children and their families, as well as running a social group called MATES once a month for children 8+. In her spare time she helps to run a Girl Guide unit as well as local youth groups.

Lynda Richardson
When Lynda’s daughter Jasmine was diagnosed with autism, she came to us for intensive playroom sessions, where she began to communicate for the first time. As Jasmine grew older, the Trust offered her family support and advice. Lynda returned the favour by volunteering and fundraising for us. After gaining a first class honours degree in Working with Children and Families, Lynda was delighted to be able to come to work for us in 2015 as our NHS Liaison and Intensive Interaction Playroom Worker. She still raises money for the Trust, most recently by running the Great North Run in just under three hours. Lynda has a special interest in supporting siblings of children with autism and set up the “Sibling Superstars” group at Toby House where they can meet other children with similar experiences.

Carolyn Morgan
Originally from London, Carolyn has been teaching in early years settings for over 25 years, both in specialist and mainstream provision. Her professional knowledge is vast, with a particular emphasis upon complex communication difficulties. She has recently extended her role within the Trust by investing in re training as a Psychotherapist to offer more holistic support to young people with Asperger Syndrome and their families.

Fiona Simpson
Fiona has worked as an Occupational therapist for over 20 years and has worked with children with special needs since qualifying. Her experience in autism spreads over 19 years initially as part of the autism assessment team in Rotherham for 4 years and for the past 8 years working within the NHS in a school specifically for children diagnosed with autism. Fiona has worked with the trust since 2009 as the Occupational Therapist and provides advice and support for children with specific sensory processing difficulties, as well as for parents, carers and the staff at the trust. She also runs training sessions on sensory processing, autism and implications of a sensory disorder.

Sue Cadwallader

Sue originally joined The Toby Henderson Trust in 2006 as a playworker. Her youngest son was diagnosed with ASD at the age of two and he attended weekly playroom sessions at the trust.  After seeing the positive effect the intensive interaction in these sessions was having on her son, especially in his interaction and communication, Sue was keen to help other children who  shared the same issues. She is now our our Early Intervention manager, and works to support the parents and children who attend the Trust, especially in areas such as challenging behaviour and communication.

Hannah Ashman

Hannah is a music therapist who moved to Newcastle from London after qualifying in 2016. She’s based at The Toby Henderson Trust every Friday as one of four pilot projects with Nordoff Robbins, a national music therapy charity. She currently works as a music therapist elsewhere in special education settings and on a hospital ward for teenagers with cancer. In her spare time, she is passionate about running community choirs for women and collaborating with other musicians and artists. She is incredibly excited to be developing her music therapy skills and experience within The Toby Henderson Trust!

Sophie Thompson

After graduating from University as an Occupational Therapist, Sophie has mainly worked in schools with children and young people. She specialises in working with children who have Special Educational Needs and Disability. Sophie joined the team as Occupational Therapist for The Toby Henderson Trust in 2016. Sophie carries out assessments of children who possibly have sensory processing difficulties. When necessary, she provides supporting strategies and recommendations for parents and careers.

Fiona Johnstone
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Rachel McManus

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Julie Curtis

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Fiona Richards

Originally from London, Fiona moved to the North East in 2003. Three years later at the age of 4 her son was diagnosed with Aspergers. In 2007 her son began attending a social communication group at The Toby Henderson Trust. “The Trust has given us all invaluable support, advice and comfort over the years, such of which I couldn’t imagine being without. Our son still enjoys his time at the social groups”. In 2009 Fiona returned to studying and started working as a practitioner at a Pre-school nursery. In 2011 she successfully gained her diploma for the Children and Young Person Workforce and became a deputy manager of the nursery. However, “in 2016, after 7 fab years I had to leave to become our sons full time carer to support, nurture and guide him during a very difficult period of his life. In 2017 an opportunity arose for me to give something back to the Toby Henderson Trust and I started volunteering with them in June 2017, putting my skills and experience once again to good use. Having personal & professional experience working with many children with ASD as well as various other additional needs and disabilities, I am able to help, assist and support the staff, children and families in anyway I can. Giving me back my passion of working with & helping children and a chance to show my gratitude and love for the trust. My hobbies include walking, reading, dancing and spending time with my family”.

Catherine Mitchell

Catherine joined The Toby Henderson Trust in November 2017 on a student placement scheme. Catherine is currently in the second year of her degree, studying Social Work at Northumbria University. She is keen to develop a greater knowledge of the challenges facing children and adults with ASD and their families to help her in her future social work practice. Catherine is really enjoying her time at the trust, seeing the positive impact of early intervention and the support given to those with ASD and the people around them.

Jackie Frier

Jackie worked in Children’s Services for Northumberland County Council for 22 years.  In 2015 she left to become fulltime carer for her son who is diagnosed with autism and learning disabilities.

Jackie started volunteering at the Toby Henderson Trust in May 2017.  She helps out in the office and has set up a database to help us communicate with past and present families.

Caitlin Belisle

I am currently in my second year studying a Foundation Degree in Children’s Workforce Practice at Northumberland College. My career aim is to become a Primary School Teacher and I am currently working in a primary school in Newcastle supporting children in Reception with ASD. I was extremely thankful for the placement opportunity  at Toby Henderson prior to my move into the school as the placement developed my knowledge and skills of supporting children with ASD. I felt that this experience will help me in the future to support children with ASD in mainstream education to reach their full potential.

I continue to volunteer at The Toby Henderson Trust where ever I can with their fundraising work and supporting the young people who attend Sibling Superstars and MATES. Other than my continuous study I work at a local supermarket to fund my desire to travel. I also go to the gym and enjoy swimming.

Alison Smith

I am in my final year of a BA(Hons) in Children and Young People at Newcastle College. I have a passion for helping children who have additional needs, and I chose to do my placement at The Toby Henderson Trust because they provide invaluable support to children with ASD and their families in a lovely, family-friendly environment . What I find especially rewarding about working at the trust is being able to see how children’s frustrations are relieved as their ability to communicate improves.

In my spare time I enjoy fell walking in the Lake District and Scottish Highlands. I’m also an avid traveller, and love experiencing different cultures and customs.