Members of the Board are volunteers whose role is to ensure that Epilepsy Connections is run properly. They are registered as Directors of Epilepsy Connections with Companies House and as Charity Trustees with the Office of Scottish Charities Regulator. They are bound by the legal requirements of both these regulators.
Directors bring a wide range of necessary experience, skills and knowledge to the Board. When vacancies occur these will be advertised in a variety of ways. Selection will be made on the basis of a candidate’s
• interest in and/or professional or personal experience of epilepsy and its impact on the lives of those affected by it, directly or indirectly
• knowledge, skills and experience in relation to current issues relevant to the work of Epilepsy Connections
• expertise and skills in one or more aspects of good governance
• ability to bring relevant new skills or experience to the Board.
There are four Board meetings and an Annual Strategy Review each year; in addition, directors may be asked to participate in short-term working groups or sub-committees related to their particular interests or skills.
For further information about what is involved in being an Epilepsy Connections Director please download Role Description: Director
Christine McGarvey (Chairperson)
After working in the Careers Service, I became National Training Officer of the Epilepsy Association of Scotland in 1982, and although I had no previous experience of epilepsy my father was to develop the condition later in life. At the time I had no idea I would still be involved in epilepsy work 32 years later. Nor did I appreciate that the job would provide me with opportunities to work, not only throughout Scotland, but UK-wide and at an international level.
In addition to epilepsy work, I spent thirteen years as Training Manager for Turning Point Scotland, an organisation that provides community based support for people involved in the criminal justice system, or facing challenges cause by learning disabilities, mental health difficulties, or drug or alcohol issues. While still there, I became Epilepsy Connections’ first volunteer counsellor. In 2008 I joined the board and 3 years ago took on the role of Chairperson.
In my leisure time I like to be with my family, and I spend many hours at the Western Baths Club where I am a keen badminton player. Cinema and theatre are other interests of mine, and I also like socialising with friends.
Pamela Parker (Vice-Chairperson)
I have recently retired after almost 40 years in nursing. I moved from the north east of England to train at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and made Scotland my home (a good move!).
I worked for the last 20 years of my career in the Epilepsy Unit at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow. I started as a research nurse and eventually went on to become an Epilepsy Specialist Nurse. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to attend national and international epilepsy conferences and masterclasses with epilepsy experts from all over the world.
In 2008 I joined the Board of Epilepsy Connections and have greatly enjoyed my involvement with this organisation for which I already had great admiration having seen at first hand the tremendous support it provides for people with epilepsy and their relatives and carers.
Now that I have retired I have begun training as a counsellor which feels like what I have always wanted to do. I hope I will be able to use my time usefully as a counsellor for many years to come.
I enjoy going to the gym and swimming, walking, gardening (very inexpertly), reading and spending time with my family.
Ian Dickson (Treasurer)
After 30 plus years working in a bank, I became involved in the voluntary sector. Initially I was a director of the Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Maryhill. After a few years I was given the opportunity to establish a charity called Your Choice which organised gardening opportunities for people with learning difficulties in East Dunbartonshire. This charity, in due course, developed as an information resource for people living with a long-term disability.
Also in East Dunbartonshire I was treasurer of the Association for Mental Health (EDAMH), the Council for Voluntary Services (EDCVS) and the Initiative for Creative Therapy (EDICT). I was a director of the Lennox Partnership, in West Dunbartonshire, and chairperson of Family Mediation West in Glasgow.
I became involved with Epilepsy Connections about 12 years ago when I was asked to join a steering group to look at setting up a community-based epilepsy service. I served as Chairperson/Treasurer until 2012 when I stepped down as Chairperson but maintained my position as treasurer.
Jean Alcock (Director)
I trained as a professional librarian and information specialist.
My Interest in disability started in 1983 when I worked at University of Strathclyde surveying the campus for disabled students. I worked at Lead (Linking Education and Disability) Scotland for 14 years, latterly as Disability Adviser on the National Educational Guidance Helpline.
In 1999, a colleague and I conceived the idea of a public exhibition to highlight learning, employment and leisure opportunities for disabled people. We called it, Ability Fest, and I went on to organise this annual event until 2007. In 2000, I set-up my own business with the aim of improving the flow of information to disabled people. My continuing interest is making printed and electronic information accessible to people with a wide range of impairments. I am currently Chairperson of the Scottish Accessible Information Forum (SAIF).
I joined the Epilepsy Connections Board in 2006. I thoroughly enjoy being involved and getting to know Board members, staff and service users through my role as designated director on the People’s Forum.
My leisure interests are gardening, photography, cooking, reading, learning French and spending time with my grandchildren. I recently took up knitting again after a break of twenty five years.
Russell Bradley (Director)
I trained as a solicitor in Paisley, qualifying in 1988 and moving to a firm in the centre of Glasgow. I became a partner in the firm in 1998 when I moved to its Edinburgh office. Having got fed up with one branch of the legal profession, I became an advocate specialising in employment law in June 2012. This is my current role.
I have been on the board of Stepping Stones Edinburgh, a charity which provides support services to young parent families and pregnant women living in the North Edinburgh area, since 2012.
I joined the board of Epilepsy Connections in late 2014 by replying to an advert in the Sunday Herald in the hope that some of my experience from elsewhere would be relevant.
In my spare time, I barely manage to be dad to four sons and I enjoy cycling, field hockey (yes, I can still play!) and endure an occasional swim. Much more fun is reading and sleeping.
Vincent Byrne (Director)
After graduating in Industrial Engineering, I entered the Scots College in Salamanca, Spain in 1988 and was ordained a Catholic Priest in the summer of 1994 in Paisley. I began working in a parish in Port Glasgow in the autumn of that year. I was also the Diocesan Youth Chaplain involved with local youth groups travelling to different European countries and Israel. For several years, I was Chaplain in Gateside Prison in Inverclyde, working closely with long-term prisoners and assisting them in theri transition to full public life.
I have worked throughout Renfrewshire and Inverclyde in
- the formation and education of children and young adults,
- pastoral care and counselling for those both bereaved and dying,
- family and network support for victims of addiction and crime, and
- multidisciplinary support in areas of social exclusion.
On several occasions I have returned to the Scots College in Salamanca to give courses on Spritual Development. I have had the good fortune to travel extensively within the remit of my profession, spending time in an AIDS Centre in Kenya and deprived areas in South America.
I have been a director of Epilepsy Connections since its inception where I believe I have been able to use my experience in the field of social integration to good advantage.
Judy Cochrane (Director)
On leaving university I taught English and history in high schools in England and Australia, followed by ten years teaching in the English Department of the University of Queensland, where I also completed my master’s degree.
On returning to the UK I taught at the University of Glasgow and then worked with the Quarriers Organisation, where I was responsible for overseeing the education of the 500 children in residential care. My next job was with the Epilepsy Association of Scotland, firstly as training officer, then as Head of Epilepsy Support Services responsible for the fieldwork, helpline, training, and information services.
In 1991 I joined the Board of the UK Epilepsy Research Foundation, became a member of the Joint Epilepsy Council of the UK and Ireland (1994 to 1999), and a vice president of the International Bureau for Epilepsy from 1993 to 2001.
Since retiring in 2000 I’ve continued to be involved in the epilepsy world, providing support to various epilepsy projects. I joined the board of Epilepsy Connections in 2001 providing support and mentoring to the executive director and working on various subcommittees of the board.
Grandchildren, gardening, country dancing, and long weekends with friends fill the rest of my time.
Fiona Cruickshanks (Director)
Having had epilepsy since childhood, I have always wanted to prove that epilepsy needn’t be a barrier to leading a normal life. After leaving school, I took the step of moving away from home to go to agricultural college in Fife where I trained as an agricultural secretary.
In later years, I was to start my own company servicing trade associations in the manufacturing industry, and was company secretary for the Boiler and Radiator Association. My work involved me in extensive travel throughout Europe.
I have always been keen to support others with epilepsy and for many years I worked as a volunteer for the Epilepsy Association of Scotland. I then helped set up the Independent Epilepsy Action Group which was the precursor to Epilepsy Connections.
I have been a director of Epilepsy Connections since its inception.
Maria Oto (Director)
I have a long and varied involvement in the clinical and research side of epilepsy. I was medical director of the Scottish Epilepsy Centre from 2000 to 2007 during which time I played a key role in obtaining grants to improve the clinical services available to people with epilepsy.
Between 2007 and 2012, I undertook specialist training in psychiatry. I am currently Consultant Neuropsychiatrist in the Scottish Epilepsy Centre working in a multi-disciplinary team assessing and managing patients with epilepsy and Consultant Liaison Psychiatry at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. I am involved in the West of Scotland Epilepsy Surgical Programme and have several teaching commitments including the Epilepsy module of the Neuropsychology Masters at Glasgow University.
I was involved in updating the SIGN guidelines for epilepsy and I am a regular reviewer for several professional journals.
I am very aware of the difficulties people with epilepsy face on a daily basis and I am passionate about taking a holistic approach to improving services. It is this passion and my skills and experience that I bring to my role as a Director of Epilepsy Connections.
Andrew Lindsay (Director)
I am half French and half Scottish, born in Rome, Italy and lived in 8 countries, including USA, which is where I got my American twang… This is how I try and explain my accent to anyone who asks.
I am what is kindly referred to as a “political and policy geek”. A graduate of University of Glasgow (in Politics) I worked in the Scottish Parliament for an MSP for over a year. Following this I earned a temporary 4 month placement through the Talent Scotland Graduate Placement Programme where I worked for a small manufacturing firm to determine the feasibility of them expanding internationally. following my global sales career of 4 months I moved to a field which was of more comfort to me… policy and campaigning.
I spent the next stage of career at the incredible charity fighting against fuel poverty, Energy Action Scotland, where I helped with their external engagement, research and social media. Here I gained a passion to volunteer and I started to explore the possibility of becoming a Trustee for a charity.
In 2013 I joined my current employers, Big Lottery Fund Scotland, as a Policy and Public Affairs Adviser. That means I am charged with talking to and managing the relationship of all the politicians who are interested in the work we do, which unsurprisingly, is quite a lot of them! I also train and support small third sector organisations in setting up and delivering their own public affairs work.
Between 2014 and 2016 I was a Trustee for a small charity in Stirling, Town Break Stirling, which does amazing work to help support people through early stage dementia.
In 2016 I was made a Director of Epilepsy Connections. My passion comes from giving something back to the third sector and volunteering as a Trustee allows me to share my experience and skill and make me feel like I am contributing to a particularly good cause. Along with the usual duties of a board member I give specific advice to the management team on social media, communications, marketing, external engagement, and third sector.