Meet the team

We are a team of dedicated volunteers and team members, all here to help. 

We work hard every week to create the best services for disabled people, carers, families and professionals in Bedfordshire, Luton and Northamptonshire.

Meet the management team

Melanie Hawman

Melanie Hawman – Chief Executive Officer

Melanie is the Chief Executive Officer and responsible for ensuring the vision and values of are lived and aligned with the purpose of The Disability Resource Centre. She also has to ensure that the charity remains competitive as a provider of services to disabled people, those with health conditions and increasingly the older local population. After a career working nationally in Welfare to Work, Melanie brings a wealth of experience and qualification in leadership and management in public, private and third sector organisations. As a person with lived experience in acquired disability she understands the need for personal and professional change and disability that may be invisible to others.

Tracey Plunkett

Tracy Plunkett – Business Development and Quality Assurance Manager 

Tracy builds the services we offer, to provide the range of support we offer across Central Bedfordshire, Luton and surrounding areas. She is responsible for the team that provides a range of support including fitness and wellbeing, employment support, training, volunteering and support to employers. Tracy has worked in the charity since 2013, contributing to the development of new services including our Care Academy, wellbeing programmes, Carers Central, support programmes helping people into work and recently led our charity to become Disability Confident Leaders. With her background in education, training and quality assurance Tracy is an integral part of continuous improvement across the charity.

Chera Gilbert – Customer Service Manager

Chera is responsible for the customer service & operational aspects of The Disability Resource Centre. Chera has been with our charity for two and a half years and came in as the Team Leader for the Advice Services team. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the team coming from a customer service and operational background. However, this is her first role in the third sector and is ensuring she applies her knowledge and experience in ways to ensure that The Disability Resource Centre continues providing first class service.

Jon Wallis – Team Leader, Customer Services

Jon is the Customer Services Team Leader, he is responsible for the team of Customer Services Advisors who provide advice, support and guidance to the people who contact us.

Jon’s work background is in Adult Social Care, he has over 25 years’ experience in various roles. This experience gives Jon a wide range of knowledge of the services available. He has worked at The Disability Resource Centre since November 2017 supporting people with Direct Payments and Personal Health Budgets before taking on this new role. Jon says “I try to be as helpful and supportive as possible and always welcome feedback to improve things where I can.”

Shaun McCarthy – Project Coordinator

Shaun is the Project Coordinator for the health, learning and work team. They plan and deliver the training and support programmes for people who want to get into employment, become healthier and improve their wellbeing.

Shaun has 15 years of experience working with local communities within the health and fitness sector. He has delivered specifically designed training and support programmes for many diverse groups, including people with disabilities and ill health. Shaun also has many years of experience as a manager within different sectors including recruitment, marketing and sales. He is using his experience and knowledge to help expand the awareness of The Disability Resource Centre and the services available.

Our patron

We are very pleased that Andrew, Duke of Bedford, has been our patron for a number of years, and we are very grateful for his support.

Our Trustees are volunteers too

The Disability Resource Centre is governed by a Board of Trustees who meet six times a year. The majority of the Trustees have personal experience of living with a disability or caring for someone with a disability. They use their knowledge to advise the management team.

We are keen to welcome new Trustees to the Board. Please check our vacancy notice.

Jill Pick, our chair of the Board of Trustees.

Please see our chair’s review of the year 2017/18

Our Board of Trustees comprises:

Chair - Jill Pick

Trustees – Nadia Deadman, Cathy Ross, Baerbel Dennis, Kay Taylor, Andrew Buckley, Sandra Brown, Bjarne Pederson and Gillian Ormston.

Jill Pick: Chair of the Board of Trustees

Jill is a retired social worker, leading a specialist Visual Impairment team until her retirement in 2009. Jill was the organisation’s Development Officer in 1993, and therefore its first employee. As Development Officer, Jill was responsible for setting up the organisation as a charity, finding and securing our premises, establishing partners and creating our first public facing services of Disability Information and Equipment Advice. Jill has been a Trustee of the organisation for over 20 years.

Gillian Ormston: Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees

Gillian brings 30+ years of management experience. She works for Beds, Cambs and Herts Police as an L&D Business Partner and is CIPD Level qualified in Learning and Development. She is currently studying a Masters Degree in Business and Organisational Strategy at Hertfordshire University. She delivered ground-breaking empowerment programmes to clients of The Disability Resource, before joining the board of Trustees in 2019. Gillian is passionate about supporting The Disability Resource Centre to make new community links, supporting members of the community to access the wealth of services available.

Nadia Deadman: Trustee

Nadia has had a career in the Health Service spanning 42 years, which included managerial roles in Customer Care and Litigation. Nadia is a wheelchair user and loves travelling and enjoyed a world cruise in 2013. Nadia is a founding Trustee, and was Vice Chair of the organisation from 1994, until she became Chair in 2001. In addition to her work at The Disability Resource Centre, Nadia works part-time for the HM Courts and Tribunal Service as Lay Member. Nadia’s vision is that The Disability Resource Centre can help disabled people to gain independence, and have the same opportunities as non-disabled people.

Baerbel Dennis: Trustee

Baerbel is a qualified FCCA MBA IFA and has worked for large quoted companies as Financial Controller and also as an auditor for over 10 years. During the MBA her thesis had a focus on marketing, research and development. She currently studying to become a qualified level 5 Reflexologist and was a carer for her husband for over two years.

Dr. Kay Taylor: Trustee

Kay lectured in human genetics at University College London until retiring due to ill health in 2000. She has been a trustee at The Disability Resource Centre for over 8 years, with a special interest in our website and marketing. Kay lives in Bedford, and is Chair of Trustees at the Beds and Northants MS Therapy Centre.

Andrew Buckley: Trustee

Andrew is a practising solicitor in Bedford, who specialises in Employment Law, becoming a Partner in 2004. He is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates. Andrew is an enthusiastic sportsman and excels in Martial Arts. Andrew has been a Trustee for nearly three years.

Sandra Brown: Trustee

Sandra has had many years working in HR Management in the high technology and communications sectors as well as the Service Sector. She is a visiting Lecturer in the Business and Management School of the University of Bedfordshire, has an HR and Coaching Consultancy, is a Fellow of CIPD, a Membership Assessor, Branch Committee Member and an HR Mentor.  Her experience in the not-for-profit sector has been gained over the last 20 years where she has fulfilled a variety of roles and is currently also a member of the Management Committee of Luton Law Centre. 

Bjarne Pederson: Trustee

Bjarne is a new member of the board of Trustees and is a passionate rights advocate and campaigner. He has broad experience in the charity world with a track record of achieving meaningful change through strategic leadership, resource mobilization and partnerships. When Bjarne is not enjoying time with his family and looking after his vegetable garden he leads an international NGO with offices across Asia.

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The difference we make


Free care skills training for unpaid carers and PAs

The Disability Resource Centre is pleased to announce a new series of free care skills training workshops and online courses. Since 2017 our Care Academy has helped hundreds of local unpaid carers and PAs to learn vital skills, for free…

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Help for carers in Luton

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