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.

Clare Copleston – Operations Manager

Clare has a wealth of knowledge and experience working within the health and social care sector and as a qualified teacher.

She has developed a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by people disabilities and is passionate about making a positive impact on their lives.

Clare’s dedication to continuous improvement is evident in her commitment to promoting the highest standards of customer service and quality. At The Disability Resource Centre, Clare ensures that every interaction with service users is both meaningful and empowering, fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.

Chelsea Smith

Chelsea Smith – Acting Self Directed Support Team Leader

Chelsea has gained a lot of experience by working in several different departments at The Disability Resource Centre. Most recently as Community Engagement Officer where she spread awareness about the huge number of ways the charity can support the local community. You can read all about Chelsea attending an awards evening where she accepted the Best Local Business Award for Houghton Regis on behalf of the charity. She is currently the Acting Self Directed Support Team Leader in the team that provides a wide range of services to help people to live independently at home, via Direct Payments and other funding. It is a way of empowering people to make their own choices and to have control over the support they receive.

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.

Our Board of Trustees comprises:

Chair - Gillian Ormston

Trustees – Gill Pick, Baerbel Dennis, Kay Taylor, Andrew Buckley, Sandra Brown, Evans Chelal and Bjarne Pederse

Gillian Ormston: Chair of the Board of Trustees

Gillian Ormston: Chair of the Board of Trustees

Previously Vice-Chair, Gillian has taken the role of Chair and will continue to drive the charity forward with a passion for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with the intention of widening community participation on the board. Gillian has been a supporter of The Disability Resource Centre for over 10 years, both working as a supplier of confidence building programmes and latterly as a Trustee of the charity. She brings a wealth of experience from public sector senior and strategic management roles ranging from the Ministry of Justice, Education, and Policing roles. Gillian is currently the Chief of Staff to the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner. Previously, Gillian spent 4 years with Hertfordshire Police as the Beds, Cambs and Herts Police Talent Manager which brings HR, leadership, skills development, project management and emotional intelligence skills to the board. Previously, she ran her own business, Intelligent Awakenings Ltd, in coaching and personal development which brings additional skills of business development, finance and commercial acumen.  

Jill Pick: Vice-Chair

Jill is a retired social worker who has worked in the health and social care sectors, specialising in physical disability and sensory impairment. She has extensive experience with the local voluntary sector. Jill’s relationship with The Disability Resource Centre began in 1993 when she was appointed as the Development Officer. As The Disability Resource Centre’s first employee, she was responsible for setting up the organisation as a charity, finding premises, establishing partners and setting up its first services; the Disability Information and Equipment Advice services. She has been a trustee for many years and Chair since 2016.

Evans Chelal

Evans Chelal: Treasurer

Evans is a consultant in climate change and sustainability. He’s based in London, and he’s a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). He used to work as an auditor with KPMG and he holds an MBA from Cranfield University. Evans has been the treasurer and trustee of The Disability Resource Centre since November 2021. In his spare time, Evans enjoys reading and outdoor activities.

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. Kay understands the issues facing The Disability Resource Centre’s service users due to her own long term health condition and disability. 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

After a career in HR Management in the high technology, communications and service sector, Sandra has lectured part-time at the University of 
Bedfordshire for the last 12 years and at the University of Coventry for nearly 2 years. She is a Chartered Fellow of CIPD, branch committee member and CIPD mentor. A qualified coach she also has a coaching consultancy. Her experience in the not-for-profit sector has been gained over the last 30 years where she has fulfilled a variety of roles. She has been a Trustee at The Disability Resource Centre for 6 years and is Chair of the Trustee Board at a domestic abuse charity in Luton.

Bjarne Pedersen: Trustee

Bjarne 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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