Our People

Our People 7

Ruth Dorman – Chief Executive

Ruth worked in the field of Health and Community Care since 1981, initially training as a nurse then in the early 90’s training as a social worker, working in the Public Sector until 2005 when she joined the Not for Profit sector. She has gained considerable experience within these fields, holding various senior management positions including those of Board Director and Executive Director and currently as Chief Executive Officer.

In Ruth’s role as Chief Executive Officer she is acutely aware of the challenges facing the third sector in Scotland now and in the coming years. Her effectiveness at this level derives from her ability to apply sound judgement whilst still remaining focused on the organisation’s primary objectives and successfully building strong working relationships, both internally and externally.

Executive Team – Suzanne Abbate, Alison Hardie, Margaret Stygal

Our People 9

Suzanne Abbate – Operations Manager

Suzanne started working as a guide/communicator in 2003 and progressed to the role of service co-ordinator in 2005. She is the Registered Manager with the Care Inspectorate and registered with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Suzanne is responsible for the operational management of Deafblind Scotland’s guide/communicator service, her team includes 5 office support staff, 6 senior practitioner and 80 guide/communicators. She has responsibility for adult and child protection, contract monitoring, budget management, health and safety, recruitment, selection and training and service compliance.

Suzanne is proficient in communicating in British Sign Language and deafblind manual. Suzanne represents the needs of deafblind people across local authority, health and private sectors. She holds a Diploma in Deafblind Studies, an SVQ 4 in Health and Social Care (Adults) and PDA in Leadership and Management, as well as a Diploma in Business management.

Suzanne has successfully facilitated deafblind people to participate in event such as climbing the Conic Hill, ice skating, boxing and golf to name but a few. Her background before entering the world of sensory impairment was in customer service, leisure and catering.

Deafblind Scotland Finance Manager

Margaret Stygal – Finance Manager

Margaret joined Deafblind Scotland during 2012 and has responsibility for the financial activities of all aspects of the Charity. Her career has spanned more than 35 years, employed in many different environments including both public, private sector organisations.

As a member of the executive team Margaret ensures that the Charity’s financial accounting is monitored and reported to the Board of Directors. She is an integral part of the team and is pivotal maintaining and developing robust systems and processes. She is also responsible for liaising with and developing external relationships where appropriate with funders and providers alike.


Our People

Elaine Docherty – Deputy Operations Manager

Elaine previously worked for a financial institution for 23 years and embarked on a massive career change when she started with Deafblind Scotland in December 2003 as Literacy and Numeracy Project Officer. Since then Elaine has managed several projects including Community Involvement, Volunteering, Charity Shop and Participation.

Elaine achieved her Diploma in Deafblind Studies in 2009, which allowed her to broaden her skills and knowledge of deafblindness. She joined the Guide/communicator team in April 2013 and since then has completed a PDA in Supervision and SVQ 4. As Depute Manager she liaises with stakeholders, maintains networks with colleagues in sensory impairment and beyond, assesses for membership, negotiates, sets up and reviews services and is involved in the day to day running of the service.

Elaine is a regular supporter of events and has been known to parade the catwalk at a fundraising fashion show!

Our People 2

Margaret Oliphant – Membership Services

Margaret has worked for Deafblind Scotland since 2001 as their Membership Officer. Margaret’s primary role is dealing with enquiries regarding new referrals for membership. She also arranges visits to assess people for membership and to see how best Deafblind Scotland can be of use to them. Margaret regularly contacts various external agencies on behalf of members to request an assessment for equipment or funding for a guide/communicator service.

Outside the office Margaret and her husband are members of the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland and enjoy visiting their various properties around the country.

Our People 1

Natalie McKechnie – Guide/ Communicator Administrator

Natalie’s role is to organise Guide/Communicators to support Deafblind people live the life they choose in a person centred way. Her day to day role always keeps her busy and it is clear she enjoys it.

For the last nine years she has been involved with Adults with Learning Disabilities, helping them live an independent life using a person centred approach, helping them achieve dreams and goals within their lives.

In Natalie’s spare time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family and travelling all over the world.

Chief Executive’s Office

Our People 10

Carolanne Martin – Finance Administrator

Carolanne has worked with Deafblind Scotland as an Administrator since 2007. Her role primarily involves the smooth running of all daily and monthly administration tasks associated within the Finance and Service Department, including regular contact with the Guide/Communicators. Carolanne thoroughly enjoys working with all her colleagues at Deafblind Scotland and since joining the Charity she has gained qualifications in BSL level 2. She is currently undertaking a course on Sage Financial Controller Accounting Software.


Deafblind Scotland Initiatives officer

Drena O’Malley – Initiatives Officer

Drena O’Malley started work as a Liaison Officer with National Deafblind League, based in Peterborough, in 1989, and established the Scottish Office very soon afterwards, in Barrowfield Deafblind Complex. She became Development Manager, and raised funds to buy our current accommodation in Lenzie. At the request of Scottish deafblind people, and with the full support of Deafblind UK, and a new Board of directors she enabled the organisation to register as Deafblind Scotland, a separate Scottish charity on 1st April 2001. She stepped down from the Chief Executive role in Deafblind Scotland in 2007 but remains with the organisation, currently serving as Initiatives Officer, and with a driving ambition to see a new purpose-built centre for Deafblind people built on our “Field of Dreams” site in Lenzie.

Drena sees the organisation’s greatest achievement as winning funding in the Primetime competition, a BBC/Big Lottery Fund project to enable 70 deafblind people to receive training to go out into schools and clubs and create deafblind awareness. More than 7,000 schoolchildren across Scotland met a deafblind person and were taught how to communicate with a deafblind person.

Deafblind Scotland Charity Shop Manager

Sandra McNab – Community and Events Fundraiser

Sandra joined Deafblind Scotland in October 2013 as a Community and Events Fundraiser organising various events such as our first Ladies Lunch and Midnight Walk. Sandra also worked closely with volunteers to help at various can collection at supermarkets, shopping centres and festivals. In September 2014, Sandra took over the management of our charity shop in Kirkintilloch which was closed for refurbishment and reopened on 30th October 2014.


Our People 12

Stephen Joyce – Training Manager

Stephen joined Deafblind UK’s Scottish Office in 1997 as Usher Syndrome Coordinator. Since then, Stephen has progressed to Deafblind Scotland’s Training Manager, whose priority it is to ensure all DbS Guide Communicators and Staff are qualified to provide the highest level of communication & guiding support in the various formats for people living with dual sensory impairment and enable deafblind people equal access to information, communication and mobility. Stephen travels all over Scotland & Islands to deliver DbS in-house Courses such as Awareness training, Deafblind Manual, Hands on Sign courses and SQA British Sign Language qualifications. He is often called upon to deliver talks to Public Organisations, Private Businesses and to Social groups.

He is an accredited SQA Tutor and was voted Signature, Teacher of the Year, Scotland 2012.

He likes to keep fit and has raised thousands of pounds for Deafblind Scotland by running marathons, most recently in London. He has been a Torch Bearer in the 2012 Olympic Games and has even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.


Our People 6

John Whitfield – Health Access Officer

The health access project aims to ensure deafblind people can fully benefit from mainstream health and social care services. The project aims to highlight the needs of deafblind people for communication support to allow them to access services. John can provide advice and assist on developing policies and solutions.

John has Usher syndrome type 2. He has been severely deaf from birth and wears two hearing aids and lip reads. In his late teens his sight began to deteriorate due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) otherwise known as tunnel vision and he now has 5% of vision left.

John was first introduced to Deafblind UK in 1999 when, as a psychology student, he interviewed dual sensory people for his dissertation. John started working for Deafblind Scotland when it was formed in 2000 and has now worked for them in many different capacities.

John enjoys a challenge. He has walked The Great Wall of China, undertaken The Inca trail to Machu Picchu and trekked the Grand Canyon!

Our People 4

Helen Campbell – Welfare Rights Officer

Helen works as Welfare Rights Officer in the Kirkintilloch Office. The project “Connect to Welfare Rights” began in August 2014 and Helen and the team give advice and assistance with welfare information, benefit checks, money matters and anything to do with equal rights or access. As the project is supported by Visibility they also assist visually impaired people. Helen advises the aim is to maximise income for sensory impaired adults by researching up to date information, distribute in accessible formats, providing home visits to complete forms and promoting independence and equal opportunities.

Helen began working with Deafblind Scotland in September 2005 as a temp answering phones and carrying out general admin tasks. She then progressed to the Guide Services Department coordinating and allocating jobs to guide communicators. This involved working closely with both guides and deafblind service users. Helen has also volunteered with Citizens Advice in her evenings and weekends.

Helen’s background is catering and she worked in various catering management roles before changing direction and coming to Deafblind Scotland.

Riley Bartholomew

Riley Bartholomew – Trainee Welfare Rights Officer

Riley’s role is to organise referrals from Deafblind Scotland members and also external requests for help with their welfare rights. He is involved in making the Welfare Rights service run as smoothly as possible from making appointments to researching funding for equipment.

Riley is also a trainee welfare rights officer and has been on a couple courses so far to ensure has the knowledge and skills needed to advise and assist those in need.

Before Deafblind Scotland Riley came from a BSL and support background in education and the voluntry sector. He also worked as a supervisor in a cinema while he was studying BSL and gaining experience working with students with additional needs.

In 2016 he was nominated for a YouthLink Young Person’s Champion Award for his four years volunteering work at a LGBT youth group.

Our People 5

Ken Hallsworth – Project Officer

Ken is our BSL Development Project Officer.

As a result of the BSL Scotland Act 2015 the Scottish Government set up a National Advisory Group (NAG) to write the BSL National Plan. It is anticipated that this can make genuine differences to people’s lives who use BSL in Scotland.

There are 2 deafblind people on the NAG and there is also a Deafblind NAG. Ken co-ordinates and supports the work of the 2 deafblind representatives on the NAG and the DBNAG members ensuring they have all the information they require to be effective as deafblind representatives on the NAG and DBNAG.

It is an exciting time to be a BSL user now and after the BSL National Plan is written. To have tactile BSL recognised fully on the National Plan makes it even more worthwhile. This is a direct result of deafblind people going to see their MSPs and attending Parliament to make their needs known.

Ken can also be contacted for support with Self Directed Support as Scotland continues to roll out Self Directed Support to those who require support in the community, including deafblind people.


Ruth Hart – Information Officer

Ruth started working for Deafblind Scotland as a guide/communicator while at university studying Psychology in 2003. After her degree she completed the Diploma in Deafblind Studies and went on to run the Community Planning Involvement Project then worked in several other area of Deafblind Scotland.

As information officer, Ruth provides information for deafblind people in alternative formats and produces the members newsletter and e-newsletter, as well as updating the website, social media.