Dr Heather Smith
I became involved with the MND Association following my partner, Steve, being diagnosed with MND in August 2009.
After his death in March 2012, I began to volunteer regularly with the Association in a variety of ways, including regular roles as Vice Chair of the North Wiltshire group and a Campaigns Contact. In addition to this, I was a General Election Campaign champion in 2015, and was privileged to be involved, with Steve, in the 2016 Awareness Month Shortened Stories campaign.
My experiences as a volunteer encouraged me to apply for the role of Trustee. I was Steve’s carer and can bring that lived experience to support the aspirations of the Association and develop our work further to support and bereaved carers.
My local work with politicians and health and social care providers, my position as a patient/carer representative on the Association’s Clinical Advisory Board, and my role in the group researching the financial impact of MND all brings relevant experience. I have also recently been involved in a working group discussing how the Association can further develop and improve its awareness raising campaigns.
I am Chair of Trustees for a charity focused on increasing leisure and learning opportunities for disabled people so I have governance experience. I have worked and volunteered in the field of access for disabled people for over 20 years and have completed a PhD specialising in the impact of loss of sight and access to leisure opportunities.
The majority of my working life has been spent with charities and I am currently the Access and Equality Specialist for the National Trust. This role is wide-ranging including
- developing policy to foster inclusive practices,
- advising on improving access to services and employment for disabled people,
- building relationships with a wide range of disability organisations and stakeholders,
- devising training and development programmes for employees and volunteers,
- speaking at International conferences,
- and working with tourism colleagues across the UK.
All of this provides me with a range of skills which are transferable to the role of a Trustee…and hopefully will help the Association broaden its reach across the disability sector.
I am also a keen fundraiser and awareness-raiser through running, having completed over 50 races so far, brilliantly supported by other fabulous runners in the ‘RunMND’ Facebook group.