Meet our Trustees and Specialist Advisors
Who are we?
Click on the names below to read their biographies.
Kathleen Whelan: Bereavement Service Lead
I see myself as a facilitator. My aim is to provide bereft families with a therapeutic approach within the role of Bereavement Service Lead manager.
I initially trained in Psychodynamic Counselling in 2012 and continued my studies to diploma level. I have worked in both a voluntary and a paid capacity, working alongside the Social Services fostering team. Beyond this, my life’s journey has taken me into the field of teaching and training. My latter experience has involved working with a bereavement charity and counselling clients from 9 – 21 through my paid role as a peripatetic counsellor, alongside working to develop my own private practice. I have a number of years’ experience of working with adults and young people with a range of presenting themes. I am able to offer congruence, empathy, and a non-judgmental approach.
The theme of bereavement I hold dear. Like others, I too have witnessed and experienced grief in many forms. It is easily missed and forgotten about but can be a huge block to peoples lives unless addressed. I believe grieving is not just a mental and physical experience but a spiritual one also.
Faye Auty: Volunteer Fundraiser
I have over 18 years' of research funding and the evaluation of it's impact on both science, policy and practice. I am excited to bring forward my transferable experience and skills to assist in raising funds for this special charity. I have lived in Swindon for over thirteen years and have two children.
Jacqueline Malone - Director of Development
Awaiting information from Jacqueline
Sue Ward: Volunteer Chair
I am a midwife at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and have worked there since 2000 following my training in London; I love my job and am a volunteer for two charities in Swindon.
I joined the Rainbow Club in 2003 as a volunteer and have a keen interest in supporting bereaved children and families. Over the years I have had the privilege of working with many amazing families which led me to volunteering with Wiltshire Treehouse which I feel fills a much needed gap in support services for Swindon.
I have been offered the role of Chair due to my length of service as a volunteer and the wealth of skills and knowledge I am able to offer, although this is a new role I am excited to see the charity growth in such a short time, I wish to watch it evolve and develop working towards being able to offer the service to the whole of Wiltshire in the future.
Brian Mildenhall: Volunteer Treasurer
Brian Mildenhall is our treasurer. He lives in Swindon and is actively involved in a number of charities. These include Friends of Young Carers, raising money to give young carers a break, and Root & Branch, helping adults recover from a mental illness. He is also very involved with voluntary work in Nepal, supporting children and a number of other projects. Brian is a keen cyclist and supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.
Haley Barefoot: Volunteer Treasurer
Haley was a service user back in 2000 and has seen the charity grow and develop over the years. Once she was old enough, Haley joined the team of volunteers. It’s something that’s close to her heart and she enjoys being able to give something back to the community and being able to help the young people in her area. Haley has completed her level one counselling course and is hoping to continue to develop her counselling skills in the future.
Helen Pepler: Volunteer Trustee
I have practiced as a nurse and then a midwife in Swindon since 1982, and have developed an interest in supporting those who care for others.
My counselling training is in Bereavement care. I am currently involved with running the Rainbow Club and supporting the development Wiltshire Treehouse, and am excited at the prospect of being able to provide more support to more bereaved families in our neighbourhood and beyond.
Liz Rothschild: Volunteer Specialist Advisor
I run Westmill Woodland Burial Ground (www.woodlandburialwestmill.co.uk). Through my work and in my personal life I have seen the damage that can be done when a family does not get the support it needs through a bereavement. I run a bi-annual festival in Oxford on living and dying (www.kickingthebucket.co.uk). I am a celebrant conducting funerals as well as other ceremonies. I am also a performer, writer and director and directed Partners Theatre company for performers with learning disabilities in Swindon as part of www.reachinclusivearts.org.uk for 17 years. I was a founder Trustee of www.rootandbranch.info, a horticultural therapy charity supporting people living with mental health challenges and Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust www.weset.org. I have two children and live with my partner on a working farm outside Swindon. I have known Wiltshire needed this service for a long time and I am very honoured to be chairing this wonderful charity for the past three years.
I have stepped down now in Autumn from this role and am offering my time up as a Specialist Advisor where I can offer my specialist knowledge and experience towards watching the charity grow from strength to strength. I have been awarded two awards from the Good Funeral Awards for 'Cemetery of the Year and the'Most Significant Contribution' for understanding Death.
Tom Wilkes: Volunteer Grants Advisor
Tom Wilkes is a retired teacher who enjoys helping groups with a social conscience to raise funds that enable them to pursue their goals.
Steve Henderson: Spiritual Support Advisor
I have worked as a pastoral specialist since 1983 in both the church and since 1998, full-time in the NHS. In the course of my career, I have seen many occasions of bereavement and from time to time have reflected upon the more complex and painful impacts of grief when there hasn’t been appropriate or effective support. It has been an inspiration and a source of real encouragement to have been connected with the inception and development to date, of the Treehouse Wiltshire Charity. I am very happy to be a part of this enterprise and see it as a privilege to be able to support a very worthy and compassionate work with bereaved young people. I look forward to giving all the assistance I can to see the work done to the highest professional standard and deliver supportive care and nurturing to young people wrestling with all the stresses and strains of life as they grieve and hopefully, eventually, regain their resilience.
Lys Kirby: Schools Specialist Advisor
I have worked in education for over 30 years, initially as a primary school teacher in the Middle East and Southern Africa, before returning to teach in the UK. For most of my teaching career I have supported school children of all ages, who face additional challenges - with their behaviour, learning or health.
In 2001 I began working for EOTAS (Education Other than at School). My role is to help children continue with their education whilst they are ill.
In both my personal and professional life I have experienced the impact that bereavement has on the well being of all concerned. I believe that we each respond to bereavement through our own experiences of loss.
I am honoured to be part of "Treehouse", and hope that together, with you, we can move forward from the adversity that is bereavement.
The Treehouse Forum has met regularly in the scoping and development period of the charity and we remain closely in touch with this network and grateful for their support and advice.
The Forum includes representatives from:
Building Blocks Play Therapy, CRUSE, EOTAS hospital School, Pregnancy Choices Swindon, Prospect Hospice, Rainbow Trust, SANDS, TaMHS, TCF and specialist teachers for pupils with learning disabilities and physical disabilities and Swindon Borough Youth Engagement Workers.
We welcome other organisations or individuals who would like to work closely with us.