Meet The Team

Meet The Team

Meet The Team

Catherine Wood

Chief Executive

Catherine Wood is Chief Executive Officer at Mencap In Kirklees.


I have a range of experience and knowledge having supported people with learning disabilities for over 30 years across a varied career as well as experience as a family carer. After graduating with a degree in social sciences, I have worked in direct support roles in both residential settings and day services and managed teams supporting people in different types of services including supported living, residential care, nursing services and day opportunities as well as business development and communications work. I have worked for local authorities, the NHS and charities across the North East and Yorkshire and have continued to gain qualifications throughout my career.


I have a special interest in supporting people with learning disabilities as they age and have led award winning projects promoting good practice. I have a place on the British Institute for Learning Disabilities (BILD) Growing Older with Learning Disabilities (GOLD) steering group and also the Palliative Care for People with Learning Disabilities (PCPLD) Special Advisory Panel.


I am especially pleased to be working with Mencap in Kirklees as my history with the charity goes back a long way. Growing up in Kirklees I volunteered at the Gateway Club when I was young and my brother was supported by the team at Mencap for over 10 years until he died in 2005. I am fully aware of the organisation’s amazing history of developing services driven by dedicated families to meet the needs of their community. Mencap in Kirklees has for over 70 years developed to meet people’s changing needs and retained the commitment and vision to make it the well-regarded charity it is today. I am therefore very much focussed on building on all the excellent support that is currently provided and readying ourselves for the challenges of the future.

I joined Mencap in Kirklees in April 2013 after working for 15 years in the private sector. During my 15 years in the private sector I worked in Manufacturing SME’s mainly as a cost & management accountant. My main specialisms are Finance & Business, Administration, IT systems, Quality, Compliance, HR and general management.


After leaving college with A levels in hand I perused a number of professional qualifications starting with a Diploma in Social Sciences in 2001 (Open University), followed by an NVQ level 5 Accounting Technician (AAT) and finally qualified to professional level with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in 2010.


I have really enjoyed my time here at Mencap in Kirklees and it’s the people that make it so special. No day is the same and the variety of challenges offered both strategic and operational certainly keep me busy. It’s been fascinating to learn all about the Third Sector and all that Mencap in Kirklees has to offer the people we support.


In my spare time I play guitar in a local rock band and enjoy writing music and performing live.  When I’m not at work or playing music I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

Joe Spencer

Business & Finance Development Director

Dawn Wood

Head of Support Services

I started to work at Mencap in September 2016 as Community Support Manager after working in various positions in social care over the last 25 years. I’ve enjoyed roles such as a care assistant and memory support worker for people with dementia working for Age Concern & BUPA, then for Kirklees Council as a Gateway Worker moving on to managing a cluster of services in the Early Intervention & Prevention portfolio.


During this time I self-funded my ILM Level 5 and accessed a Cert HE in management in health and social care organisations (Leeds Met University). I then became a registered manager for a social enterprise. This is where I developed a large newly built Extra Care Scheme, which was an exciting, challenging and rewarding experience.


Here at Mencap, I love the diversity of my job and directly improving the quality of our services to increase people’s health, well-being and happiness. As the Head of Support Services, I relish the direct contact I have with lots of vibrant people whilst implementing strategies and projects with them at the heart of what I do.


Mencap is truly a person centred organisation which is at the core of my values. When I’m at home, I relax by nurturing my organic vegetable garden, cooking and eating the produce and I enjoy travelling abroad.

Board of Trustees

I left school in 1966 and started my working life as an Office Junior in a Huddersfield solicitor’s office. My next job was as cashier/clerk for the Bradford and Bingley Building Society where I stayed until I had my first child in 1972.


In 1974 I gave birth to our second daughter Suzanne, after a few months it became apparent that Sue was not making the progress that her elder sister had and there began our lifelong journey with Learning Disability.


I met Jill Robson at a group run by a lovely lady for mums of disabled children. Jill introduced me to another lovely lady, Ivy Pardon, who soon had me folding Tombola Tickets! This was my introduction to Mencap and almost forty years later I am still involved. I remember Ivy saying how good it was to have young people involved, I am now looking for young people so that I can repeat her words!


I retired from work last year after almost twenty-five years as a school support assistant and now as well as Mencap I work in a charity shop one morning a week, do some volunteer driving and help at our local cricket club.


Having a child with a disability does change your life, it is not always easy, but through Suzanne, I have met many people from all walks of life, had lots of ‘interesting experiences’ and rarely been bored.

Linda Wrigley


Jill Robson

Vice Chair

After a chequered early career (secretary/model/researcher/psychology lecturer) I  joined Social Services in 1986 to set up an employment agency for people with disabilities. 


I then went on to manage Kirklees services for people with physical disabilities, sensory impairments and learning disabilities and during this time gained a Masters degree from Leeds University in the management of Health and Social Care.


2004 saw a move to Mencap but my contact with the organisation goes back long before that.  When I was at home with two small children, one of whom has multiple disabilities, I was a campaigner for change and was instrumental in setting up the first group home in the area and the first independent day service for people with a learning disability.


Now my younger son, David, lives in his own home supported by Mencap staff so I have had the opportunity to experience our services from a consumer’s perspective.  Our older son, Simon, lives in Helsinki in Finland which we visit regularly and now regard almost as a second home.

I joined Mencap as a care assistant when the Victoria Road home opened in August 1992. Since then I think I can claim to have worked in almost every department and at many different levels in the organisation from support worker to manager. Having experience of working in residential care, community support and day services has helped me bring a different perspective to board meetings in that I can often see issues from the staff’s point of view.


It was with great sadness that in 2006 I had to take early retirement on ill-health grounds because my whole adult life up to that point had been devoted to Mencap and the people we support.


So when I was invited to join the Board I jumped at the chance to contribute to the organisation in a different way. I am passionate about the rights of people with learning disabilities and want to ensure we enable them to have the best life possible.


My own health problems in recent years have given me an even greater understanding of the frustrations and difficulties many of the people we support must experience – and an even greater commitment to the work of Mencap.


I am married to Joanne and have two children.

Anthony Horsfall


David Birch


I am a partner in a law firm, where I work as a healthcare solicitor. My professional role therefore includes guiding health and social care organisations in the delivery of safe and lawful care. During my working day, my role sometimes includes supporting care providers making best interest decisions for people who don’t have the capacity to make their own decisions about care and/or treatment. I therefore have a role in seeking to ensure good communication and support for individuals, families and professionals, in connection with complex and/or serious decisions. Through my work as a solicitor, I see the importance of involving individuals and their families in decision making. I also see the impact that good care can make upon improving the lives of individuals, and their families.


My professional experiences are greatly helped by the invaluable insights provided by my wife and family. My wife works as a mental health nurse, supporting people with learning disabilities, and her youngest brother has learning disabilities.


When I first met some of the staff from Mencap in Kirklees it was immediately clear to me just how passionate they were about their work for Mencap, and just how much they all care for the people that they support. I was delighted to be asked to join the Board as a trustee, as it gives me an opportunity to use my skills, and develop new skills, to contribute to the great work being done by Mencap.


During my spare time I enjoy going for long family walks with our ‘cute but bouncy’ Cavapoo Bella, swimming, and climbing with my daughter and friends.

Liz Towns-Andrews has joined Mencap in Kirklees as a Trustee on our Board. 


Liz is a chemist by training and has extensive experience of working at the academic-industry interface. She was Director of Innovation for the Science & Technology Facilities Research Council before joining the University of Huddersfield and led the development of the national science and innovation campuses in Cheshire and Oxfordshire.


She is 3M Professor of Innovation and Director of External Engagement for Huddersfield Business School, identifying opportunities for development of research activity and strategic partnerships. Until September 2020, Liz received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2013 for establishing the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Huddersfield and in 2017, she was elected Chartered Companion of the Chartered Management Institute.


Liz received an OBE in the 2020 New Years Honours list for services to Business, to Enterprise and to Public and Private Sector Collaboration and is the Regional and Business lead for the University’s major development – the National Health Innovation Campus. 


 Liz says “After meeting the Mencap in Kirklees team and visiting some of the centres in Kirklees, I was overwhelmed by the work which is being done and felt that if there was any way that I could help or support this great work, I would love to help and would be humbled to be considered as a trustee. The resonance with my own personal values was so strong, even though I have not personally cared for a disabled person, that it was a powerful driver for me to join the Board.” 


Liz is married to Steve and has a daughter Emma and outside work loves to spend her time gardening in her allotment, travelling and researching her family tree. 

Liz Towns-Andrews


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