Our Team

Our team is led by Alan Thornburrow, CEO, our Head of Outreach, Dinah Aitken, and our Head of Operations, Geoff Hewitt.  

Alan Thornburrow

Chief Executive Officer

Alan leads Mindroom, working closely with the Chair and Board of Trustees and the Senior Management Team to set the organisational direction, lead the team to deliver excellence and ensure the charity is both sustainable and fulfilling its obligations.

He has over 20 years of senior level experience having joined Mindroom from HRH The Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network, Business in the Community. He operates across the public, private and voluntary sectors to raise awareness of neurodiversity, supporting organisations to develop, embed and share good practice.

He is an Honorary Professor at Glasgow Caledonian University’s School for Business & Society, a past Vice Chairman of Career Ready in Scotland, a former member of the Scottish Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and former lead author of Scotland’s Fair Work Action Plan.

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Geoff Hewitt

Director of Finance and Operations

After gaining an honours degree in Business and Finance, Geoff spent most of his career providing accounting, business and management support to a diverse and inspiring range of organisations within the charity sector. These have included award-winning conservation projects, purpose-built arts venues and a workers’ cooperative dedicated to cross-cultural conflict resolution. Whatever the setting, Geoffs approach to financial management is always to keep things compliant, transparent, straightforward and on track. Geoff joined Salvesen Mindroom Centre in August 2020.

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Aileen Shrimpton

Business Development Manager

Aileen brings over 25 years’ experience of working in training, learning and development. She has a genuine passion for lifelong learning and experience of developing a wide range of educational, workforce development and employability initiatives for the third, public and private sectors. With lived experience of neurodivergence, her ambition is to capture the very best new ideas emerging from the neurodiversity movement and embed these into innovative, high quality training programmes. In her spare time Aileen enjoys scuba diving, marine biology and is currently completing a MEd in Community Development & Adult Education. Aileen joined us as Training Manager in April 2021.

Andrea McKenna

Children & Young People Outreach Specialist – Transitions

Andrea qualified as an Art Therapist in 2005 and since then has worked in various roles within voluntary sector organisations supporting children, young people and adults with a range of needs including learning difficulties and disabilities. She has experience supporting parents and carers of children and young people who have disabilities and learning difficulties. Andrea joined us in November 2020 as a Family Advice Specialist within the Direct Help and Support team.

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Andrew Wright

Team Leader: Transitions Service

Andrew worked for 15 years as a classroom teacher with management responsibilities that included the school-wide development of Personal & Social Education and Behaviour Management. In the third sector, he has worked directly with teenagers and young adults as a Children & Families Worker and more recently within human resources, administration and hospitality. Andrew joined us in September 2018 to lead our project on supporting neurodivergent young people with the transition from school to employment through bespoke supported work experience placements.

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Anne Renwick

Family Outreach Specialist

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Chris Nicol

Digital Infrastructure Manager

Chris joined Salvesen Mindroom Centre in October 2016 after time overseas where he developed his administrative skills in the private sector. Following some inspired career guidance, Chris made the move into the third sector where he has enjoyed the different challenges facing the charity and is proactive in providing the team with the platforms necessary to strengthen our systems and deliver the best service possible.  

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Claire MacRobert

Family Outreach Specialist

Claire joined the team in September 2022 after more than 17 years in Social Care managing complex,  challenging behaviour services for adults and young people. Prior to that Claire was a Virology Supervisor working in various laboratory settings across Scotland. In her own time Claire also works as a Family Mediator with Relationship Scotland and volunteers as a Scout leader and fosterer for Cats Whiskers.

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Ellen Cowan

Family Advice Specialist

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Emma Wood

Children & Young People Outreach Specialist

Emma holds a bachelor’s degree in Textile Design and a MSc in Transformative Learning and Teaching. A qualified teacher, Emma has worked in nurseries all the way through to Secondary level classrooms, including specialist provisions. Emma enjoys using her creative background to engage with children and families and has also worked in playschemes, after-school clubs, family homes (as a au-pair), a Canadian canoe-tripping camp, and an outdoor arts venue. Most recently, Emma has worked in the third sector to support neurodivergent people and provide training through the lens of lived-experience. In her spare time Emma enjoys running, Munro-bagging, and is currently studying towards a COSCA Certificate in Counselling Skills. 

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Jill Somerville

PA/Admin Officer

Jill spent several years working in the banking industry supporting a number of different areas and latterly providing direct support to the Deputy Head of Private Banking. She has spent the last 5 years working as a PA within the third sector, working for a charity providing all through life support to those with learning disabilities. Jill joined us in September 2020 and provides PA/Admin support to the CEO and her team.

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Joanna Karkanevatou

Family Advice Specialist

Joanna Karkanevatou holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a MSc in Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology. Over the years, during but also after her studies, Joanna engaged professionally in several roles in the mental heath sector and eagerly worked for the support of vulnerable populations. Joanna has worked with various age groups, including minors, young adults and their families and am qualified for diagnosis, mediation, as well as emotional and practical support. Since December 2019 Joanna solely focused on the support of people with a range of support needs, including learning difficulties and disabilities, and individuals within the Autism Spectrum. Additionally, within that timeframe Joanna also provided trauma informed support to adults that had experiences trauma in their childhood.

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Kirsten Shield

Direct Help and Support Manager

Kirsten worked in a neighbourhood Children and Families Team and was employed for 10 years within local authority social work and education services. She is a qualified social worker and her experience includes working with children and young people with additional support needs and providing advice and support to education professionals. Kirsten has also been a registered Specialist Disability Foster Carer since 2011. Kirsten joined us in August 2018 to provide advocacy and support to children and young people with learning difficulties up to age 25. In 2020, she took up the position of Team Leader within the Direct Help and Support team and continues to work with children and young people directly as well as overseeing the delivery of this service.

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Lauren Murray

Children & Young People Outreach Specialist

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Lena Lejsal

Finance Officer

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Lynne Young

Family Outreach Specialist

Lynne originally came from a background in Finance where she worked within accounts for over 20 years. After leaving the Finance Sector, just under 10 years ago, Lynne retrained in social care and worked in an Education and Residential Care organisation. Lynne initially worked in the classroom setting, supporting the children and young people to overcome their challenges and difficulties, in a therapeutic and nurturing manner. Lynne’s last role was that of a Child and Family Worker, offering practical help and emotional support to the children and young people as their key worker. Additionally, Lynne supported parents and carers to explore and implement strategies to help them overcome their concerns and obstacles . Lynne joined us in February 2022 and works directly with parents and carers.

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Marie-Clare MacAskill

Family Outreach Specialist

Marie-Clare qualified and worked as a solicitor in a private practice after gaining an Honours degree in Scots Law with Spanish, a post-graduate degree Diploma in Legal Practice and a traineeship. She developed experience in the third sector as the Legal Adviser for a group of Citizens Advice Bureaux, advising on issues including disability discrimination, housing and employment law. She also provided representation at sheriff courts and tribunals and assisted with negotiations and mediation. Marie-Clare joined us in October 2019 and works directly with parents and carers.

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Nell Page

Team Leader: Parent & Carer Service

Nell qualified as a nurse in 2007 and practised for several years in Edinburgh Hospitals before moving to the third sector. Whilst working with adult patients, Nell developed an interest in learning difficulties and worked as an administrator for a charity supporting children with ASD after leaving the NHS. In September 2016, she joined the Salvesen Mindroom Centre as a member of the Direct Help and Support team and works directly with parents and carers.

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Nelly Whaley

Training Manager

Nelly has worked within the Education sector for the past 8 years in varied roles and settings specializing in the field of Additional Support Needs. Initially working as a Secondary English and Social Science Teacher in London, where she then began her ongoing training in Special Educational Needs. Working in leadership roles to advise on and facilitate additional support for learning plans for students. Nelly has also provided support to children, young persons, and adults with additional learning needs through Equine Assisted Learning.

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Rebecca Marshall

Children & Young People Outreach Specialist

Rebecca studied Psychology and Sociology and has worked at various youth groups and play schemes for children with additional support needs. After graduation, Rebecca worked as a Pupil Support Assistant in a mainstream high school and became passionate about helping pupils with additional support needs to access the curriculum. In her spare time, she supports young people on the autistic spectrum at Lothian Autistic Society. Rebecca joined us in March 2019 as a Family Advice Specialist supporting parents and carers. In August 2020, she transitioned to the role of Children and Young People Outreach Specialist providing support and advocacy for children and young people up to age 25.

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Sarah McClarey

Team Leader: Children & Young Person Service

Sarah is a qualified Occupational Therapist and has practiced in diverse areas within the NHS. This included paediatrics which involved assessment and intervention within mainstream and specialist school settings. Sarah joined us in March 2017 and utilises her professional qualification along with her undergraduate psychology knowledge to directly support children and young people.

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Saskia Wilson

Service Access Point Administrator

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Sophie MacLagan

Post Diagnostic Support Specialist

Sophie has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and is currently studying her MSc in Autism. Sophie has worked in the third sector as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities and mental health conditions, and as a research assistant in Autism research. Previously, she has worked as a classroom assistant in both primary and secondary schools. Sophie volunteered with Edinburgh Council’s Family and Household Support service, where she supported adults in an emotional and social capacity, supporting them to seek out opportunities to get involved in in their community. Sophie has completed foundation training in Talking Mats and is a trained mental health first aider. Sophie joined us in 2023 and utilities her skills from her experience and studies in her role as Post-Diagnostic Support Specialist, funded by Inspiring Scotland.

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Suzanne Ross

Family Advice Specialist