Debbie was born in Essex and trained as a physiotherapist in West London graduating in 1991. Since 2021, Debbie is the Strategic Learning Disability Workforce Development Manager for Family Carers.
Back in her 20’s, Debbie combined her love of travel with work and spent a year in Australia. During this time, she was introduced to the social model of disability and the injustices faced by disabled people.
When she returned to England, Debbie built on the knowledge and skills that she learned in Australia and began working as a therapist specialised in wheelchair services.
This change in career took her to the West Cumbria Wheelchair Service and from there to Kendal where she met her husband, Ian. They had their daughter, Lucy in 2008 who was born with Down Syndrome and when she turned 5, Lucy was also given a diagnosis of autism.
After having Lucy, Debbie began working in a community learning disability team, where she spent 12 years using her knowledge of posture and seating to focus the physiotherapy service on meeting the needs of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, and people with complex physical disabilities.
In addition to her work, Debbie set up her first early intervention group for children with Down Syndrome in early 2010 which ran for 18 months.
When Lucy started school in 2014, Debbie set up her second group “Up Up and Away” a fortnightly early intervention group for children with Down Syndrome which ran until all the children (in the group) started school.
With the help of Professor Sue Buckley, Debbie ran some outreach sessions for Teaching Assistants to help to support children further in their mainstream, schools.
Debbie began learning about Positive Behavioural Support when Lucy was about 7 and this journey transformed Lucy’s life and their family life. This is something that in Debbie's current role, discusses regularly.
In 2018, Debbie became involved in the Cumbria Early Intervention Pilot and was trained by the Tizard Centre to be a family carer co-facilitator for the Early Positive Approaches to Support Programme, and by the Challenging Behaviour Foundation to be a family carer co-facilitator for their Positive Behavioural Support workshops.
Debbie also works with Warwick University and recently was part of a team of family carers who co-produced a new programme called Positive Family Connections. She is also co-applicant for the NIHR Randomised control trail for E-PATS and chairs the Parent Carer Advisory Group for this research.
Debbie enjoys living in Kendal with Ian and Lucy, and in her free time she enjoys going for walks in the beautiful Cumbrian mountains and playing her saxophone in the local street band Blast Furness.