VOLUNTARY COUNTY AMBASSADORS
EMMA ALTHAUS, Somerset Ambassador
Emma grew up in Ireland and has been living in the UK for over 25 years. With a background in marketing, she ran events in the charity sector before working in the advertising industry for 12 years. She joined forces with her husband to run their landscape business in 2007 and the family now lives in Somerset. Emma has a teenage daughter and is closely involved in running village and community events.
ROSIE CUNNINGHAM, Dorset Ambassador
Rosie worked in PR and advertising in England, France and South Africa. She lives near Sherborne in the beautiful county of Dorset and has two teenage children in secondary school. She was governor of a local primary school for four years and worked as a reading volunteer with children in Key Stages 1 & 2, witnessing first-hand the importance of listening to children read on a one-to-one basis. Rosie is now studying at the Open University for a degree in English Literature proving that it is never too late to learn.
CHRIS DOWD, Derbyshire Ambassador
Chris left home at 16 and trained as a nurse, progressing through practice to teaching, and ending up as a senior university lecturer. Having been made redundant he came across an advertisement for Schoolreaders and joined the scheme as a reading volunteer. He comments 'To say that it changed my life is an understatement. I volunteer in a small school in a rural area that has a high level of social deprivation. It has the most dedicated, skilful and caring teaching and support staff... I have been welcomed, and dare I say, valued by them all'. Chris continues to volunteer in school as well as being one of our Ambassadors, and says that 'every visit is a joy!'
VICTORIA DUNLOP, Hertfordshire Ambassador
Victoria has a degree in History and French and worked in retail and investment management. She has lived in Hertfordshire for 25 years and is married with 2 children at university. She helped as a reading volunteer at her children's primary schools, and raised funds for charities at their secondary schools. She supports the Hertfordshire NSPCC, and has helped organise fund raising events for the Bedfordshire NSPCC. She enjoys tennis, yoga and reading.
LIZZIE FLYNN, Wiltshire Ambassador
After studying English at Royal Holloway as a mature student, Lizzie formed FASBAT, a Musical Theatre company for children and adults. A move to the Isle of Wight saw her become involved in several island-based projects, among them Singing for Wellbeing sessions which she ran for the Independent Arts charity. In 2020 Lizzie moved to Wiltshire and she now runs Open Voices at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, and is engaged in various projects in her local community. Lizzie says 'reading has always been a passion, and I know from my experience of working with schools, that it is a fundamental building block which should be afforded to all children'.
TRACY ROGERS, Suffolk Ambassador
With a Master’s Degree and a business background in consumer marketing, American-born Tracy has spent the last 15 years in the voluntary sector, principally in her local area, Suffolk. In 2003 she started ‘Young Art East Anglia’, an art exhibition for primary school children, which raises funds for Cancer Research UK. Tracy is enthusiastic about being a Schoolreaders Ambassador, saying 'improving literacy gives children a better start and helps them in life - good for them and good for society'.
BUMBLE GAMBIER, Suffolk Fundraising Ambassador
Bumble has been involved in numerous charitable and fundraising projects in Suffolk, many of them focused around the junior school attended by her three children. She says, ‘I am delighted to be involved with Schoolreaders because I am passionate about reading and love the idea of local children benefitting from our volunteers and the Schoolreaders service’.
LAURA KENYON-SLANEY, Oxfordshire Ambassador
Overseas postings to South Africa and Australia before a return to the UK meant that Laura’s three children grew up experiencing a number of very different educational systems. It was obvious to Laura that whatever the system used in local schools, the one-to-one time spent with a patient adult was tremendously helpful in building their confidence and improving their reading. Laura’s family has now settled in Oxfordshire, where they have built their own house, and Laura is a Schoolreader in her local school.
MANDY KELLAGHER, Cornwall Ambassador
Mandy has lived in Cornwall for over 30 years, 25 of which were spent working as a vet before diversifying into teaching English to adult foreign language students and some part-time ceramic work. She was a primary school governor for 8 years when her now adult children were pupils and was invited back onto the board 3 years ago, so maintains an active involvement with the school. She is also trying to make time to do more travelling as well as a variety of watersports, walking, snowboarding, tennis and is struggling with being an adult beginner cellist.
NICKY RAMSDEN, Leicestershire and Rutland Ambassador
Nicky has lived in Leicestershire for 20 years. As well as having taught yoga for the last 15 years, Nicky is active in a number of voluntary roles, acting as secretary of the church council, and fundraiser for VIP Companionship for older people. Nicky has three children, four dogs and lots of chickens. She grew up in Kenya, and has spent time living in Madrid. Nicky believes strongly in the power of the Schoolreaders approach, ‘It's a clever idea to match volunteers with the young - and I know that reading is fundamental to my life’.
JO GAMMELL, Hampshire Ambassador
Following a career in the City, Jo moved to Hampshire where she runs her own small bespoke stationery business. She has been a Governor of an infant school, and has helped as a reading assistant and with other activities at her local school. Jo is married and has two grown-up children. She shares her home with her dogs, chickens, and some rescue donkeys.
LORNA ROLFE, Essex Ambassador
On graduating, Lorna joined Marks and Spencer, and became their first female commercial manager. After ten years with M&S, Lorna moved on to work as a management consultant, and ultimately became Managing Director of a family business, a position she still holds. At the same time, she was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and has been closely involved with the Magistracy, chairing training and development groups in Essex. Lorna has also been a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for nine years. Her other interests include choral singing, and she supports a number of heritage projects in Essex. Lorna was High Sheriff of Essex in 2016-2017, and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant in June 2017.
JUDY STEWART, Bedfordshire Ambassador
After Durham University, Judy worked in the city as an analyst for various stockbrokers. She has lived in north Bedfordshire for thirty years and was the county representative for the NGS. She has been involved in various local activities including being a Parish Councillor for over twenty years and is a Schoolreader at her local school. She is married with three adult children
PENNY HUBBARD, Norfolk Ambassador
Penny is passionate about reading and never had her nose out of a book when she was a child! Her life was changed for ever when she got a place at Cambridge University from her Direct Grant School to read English Literature and from there she went on to qualify as a Commercial Property Solicitor in London, becoming a partner at a major City Law Firm. After a short career break during the teenage years of her two daughters, she spent nearly 12 years as Development Director raising funds for Newnham College (her old College). Much of her work there was to help disadvantaged students from less privileged backgrounds thrive at Cambridge. Currently, she is a part time executive business coach and fundraising consultant. Penny and her husband, who is a fanatical kite surfer, live in Old Hunstanton with their jack russell and springer spaniel.
VOLUNTARY COUNTY SUPPORTERS
SUZANNE BUCKLAND, Nottinghamshire County Supporter
Suzanne spent a decade working in London in Marketing before moving to Nottinghamshire. She became involved in fundraising and charity events for her children's school, and was active helping the younger children to read. She also learnt Sign Language to Level 2 and became a volunteer in a school to help a child with hearing difficulties. She has also been a volunteer in a Nursing Home as an Activities Co-ordinator.
SALLIE COOLIDGE, Suffolk Supporter
Sallie was inspired with a love of reading by her father who lectured on English Literature at a University near their home in Boston, Massachusetts. Sallie herself read English at University and spent a year studying in Italy before joining a large New York publishing house. She worked her way up to become a General Editor, but left the US to marry her English husband. She initially worked in the London publishing world but went freelance when her three children were born. Sallie says 'Books and reading have been close to my heart all my life, and so it's a particular pleasure to help Schoolreaders.... And it's a wonderful way to connect to local communities and meet new people'.
AMANDA GERRY, Essex County Supporter
Amanda has lived in Essex for the past 20 years and is the mother of four grown-up children. At one time, she ran her own restaurant in Spain before going on to manage a restaurant in the City of London for several years. She then qualified and worked as a TEFL teacher. Since 2008, Amanda has worked for International Justice Mission UK (an anti-slavery/trafficking NGO) as a volunteer on the Business Operations team and she regularly gives presentations on their work. For the past 15 years she has also enjoyed her work with the charity ‘Riding for the Disabled’.
SERENA WHITBREAD, Wiltshire Supporter
Serena works as a property manager looking after residential and commercial property in Wiltshire, and has three grown-up children. She has a level-3 qualification in Counselling, and has volunteered at the Rainbow Trust in Swindon. The Rainbow Trust supports families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness and need special support; Serena’s role was to talk to both children and parents about their day-to-day worries and fears. Serena’s interests include sport, travel and reading.
VICTORIA COUBROUGH, Bedfordshire Supporter
Victoria has lived in Bedfordshire for 25 years and has 4 grown up children and 2 grandchildren. With a degree in hotel and business management, Victoria’s early career was in the hospitality industry, before setting up and running small businesses; and is currently a director of a hotel and a cottage letting business. Keen to support children and early education, Victoria has been a reading volunteer in primary schools and a mentor at secondary schools. She set up a branch of the NSPCC whilst living in north London and is a founding member and trustee of The Friends of her local church. Victoria's interests include cookery, literature, art and painting, equestrian sports and, more recently, golf.
EMMA WARD, Cambridgeshire Supporter
Emma became a Schoolreaders supporter and listener on retirement after working in academic publishing, the music business, retail marketing, catering & events. She wanted to do something useful as well as her favourite pastimes - travelling, reading, tennis, cycling, yoga, singing, gardening, cooking. She thinks the Schoolreaders model is a brilliant one as it has far reaching benefits for all concerned. She has lived in the Cambridgeshire area with her husband for 30 years and has two adult children.