More information about the members of the forum
SAFE Forum Chair
Andy Wright has 30+ years in the tourism and leisure industry, 20 of which have been spent managing the needs and requirements of disabled holidaymakers travelling worldwide through his company Accessible Travel and Leisure.
He is a wheelchair user and a Disability Advocate for several UK airports, where he provides practical guidance and advice to support and enhance their disabled passengers` seamless end-to-end journey experience, as well as chairing a number of airport consultative committees, which are designed to build future partnerships and collaborations with local charities and disability organisations.
Andy chairs London Stansted Airport’s SAFE Forum.
Paralympian and disability rights campaigner
Anne is a Paralympian wheelchair racer and a Tough Mudder conquerer who demonstrates that it’s possible to break down barriers. She is also a non-executive director on UK Athletics, Active Essex and British Paralympic Association, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Dimensions U.K. and SAFE. In 2020, she was appointed as a Commonwealth special envoy Champion for Equality in Sports with a role promote the Commonwealth’s values and principles around the world by connecting sporting initiatives and supporting the implementation of SDGs relating to sport, peace and development and improving equality in sport.
She continues to advocate for an accessible and inclusive society. She holds a B.Ed (Hons) degree and supports various not-for-profit organisations both at national and international level.
As the first Action on Disability and Development goodwill ambassador, she successfully supported and campaigned for nations to ratify the UN Convention on the “Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities” and she’s a lobbyist at International Parliamentary Conferences on Millennium Development Goals.
In 2010 Harper Collins published her Autobiography ‘In My Dreams I Dance’. In 2014 she was awarded an MBE for services to Charity and Disability Sport. Anne continues to lobby to further the interests of disabled people in the UK and developing nations.
General Manager, Colostomy UK
Libby Herbert is a member of the SAFE Forum representing Colostomy UK, a national charity that offers support and advice to people with a stoma (known as Ostomates), their families, carers and friends.
Colostomy UK services are free and include:
A 24-hour free helpline: 0800 328 4257.
Information literature on all aspects of living with a colostomy.
Tidings, a quarterly support magazine.
A closed Facebook Support Group
An informative website: www.coloctomyuk.org
Over 100 volunteers (all ostomates) who take helpline calls, attend open days, give talks and visit ostomates in hospital
The charity also runs projects to empower ostomates to return to sports, hobbies and other interests and give them the confidence to take up fresh challenges. They are advocates for ostomates’ rights and their voice on the bigger issues. Their campaigns raise awareness and encourage organisations to make their facilities more inclusive.
Marketing and Communications Manager, Guide Dogs
Siobhan is the Marketing and Communications Manager for the sight loss charity Guide Dogs in the Southeast. She is blind and a guide dog owner and so she is passionate about universal access and the freedom for disabled people to navigate freely.
Siobhan decided to join the SAFE Forum to do all she can to reduce the notion that disability should ever be a barrier to air travel and taking holidays. She has experienced many good and bad airport experiences around the world and believes passionately that we can work together to make things more inclusive. She believes that airports are doing good work but an apparent lack of resources in passenger special assistance leaves too many in desperate situations. Siobhan wants to work with airports to ensure airlines are equipped with the support and information they need to make the process smooth.
Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Society
Mark Neville is the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator and Chair of the Pan Essex Dementia Action Alliance and Dementia Friends Champion
Mark’s role is to support organisations, businesses, Health and education providers and communities to have a better understanding of the impact of dementia and how to adjust their services to the needs of people affected by dementia and work together to create Dementia Friendly Communities.
It is estimated that a person is formally diagnosed with dementia every 3 minutes in the UK and it is also currently projected that one in three of us will be diagnosed with dementia.
People living with dementia still wish to lead a normal life, which, for some, will include travelling abroad.
By being an active member of the SAFE Committee the Alzheimer’s Society has been able to successfully work in partnership with Stansted Airport and the other committee members to support Stansted Airport to meet its commitment to disabled people, people living with a life limiting illness and/or a long-term health condition. This includes helping Stansted to deliver Dementia Friend sessions to over 1200 members of staff.
Manager, PACT for Autism
Kevin is a parent and carer of a young man who is 20 yrs old, Autistic with learning difficulties, and who loves aeroplanes.
He is also the charity manager of PACT for Autism, which is an Essex based charity supporting the Autistic community across all age ranges, needs and requirements. No Autism diagnosis is needed, and no boundaries accepted. PACT for Autism works hard to ensure a voice for all Autistic people and providing much needed support and information sharing for parents and carers of Autistic children, young people and adults, including those professionals working with and for Autistic people.
London Stansted is Kevin’s local airport and his family have been frequent flyers through the airport for many years. Kevin believes the airport is an important and essential travel hub for many people of all abilities and that the airport has a responsibility to ensure safe and assessable travel for all.
PACT for Autism aims to ensure that the needs and voices of people living on the Autistic Spectrum are heard and understood, and that where reasonable adjustments are identified that they are implemented effectively. They are also keen to ensure that all London Stansted airport staff have a working knowledge and understanding of Autism Spectrum conditions and a range of strategies to ease air travel for all involved.
Independent, representing people with MS and hidden disabilities
Sonia Sparkes has Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS), diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 38. Having always been a keen traveller she soon realised that travelling with the weighty excess baggage that is MS is a very different experience to the way it was ‘before’. In her day job, Sonia works in Cyber Security Consulting and works from home which helps tremendously with coping with having MS and working full time.
Sonia hopes to be the voice on the SAFE Forum for people who outwardly have no discernible difficulties but do need a little extra help or understanding when travelling.
After diagnosis, Sonia wanted to do more than just complain about what she perceived to be a lack of service and understanding towards people with hidden disabilities, so did some research on what help was available and what was being done to help people like her have access to more suitable assistance. That research led Sonia to SAFE Forum Chair Andy Wright, who inspired Sonia to volunteer to be part of the Forum.
Sonia says: “It’s extremely rewarding to feel that I can make a difference. The Team at Stansted work so hard to make positive change happen, and I’ve met incredible people on the panel who inspire me every day.”
Representing Parkinson’s UK
Ian Meaden is actively involved with Parkinson's UK (PUK) helping to promote a greater understanding of Parkinson's disease and how it impacts everyday life.
Ian was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson's disease in 2006 at the age of 41 and retired on health grounds at age 50 after a career as a Chartered Naval Architect. He is married and has three grown up children, two dogs and one cat, and enjoys sailing.
Parkinson's UK is a charity promoting awareness of Parkinson's disease. They train Parkinson's nurses, provide ongoing support and advice to anyone impacted by diagnosis and their members partake in and raise funds for various research projects.
Ian joined the SAFE Forum because he had personally experienced some difficulties when travelling through the airport due to his disability not being understood. Ian wanted to be actively involved in helping to improve the experiences of disabled airport users in a positive way.
Secretary and Technical Adviser to the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee
Frank has a career background in Government, dealing with transport issues mainly aviation and shipping.