Board of Trustees

The Upward Mobility Board of Trustees is responsible for the good Governance of the Charity.  All trustees work in a voluntary capacity to further the aims and objectives of Upward Mobility leaving aside any personal interests.  We are proud that we have a number of parents of students on the board of trustees as well as subject experts in areas every organisation needs.  We are incredibly grateful for their commitment, expertise and passion for our students.

We are always reviewing the make up of our board and would welcome expressions of interest from anyone who thinks they could add value and help steer our dynamic organisation to greater things.

Christine Farquhar (Chair of Board)

I am a partially retired academic (neurobiology and immunology) whose work was funded by the BBSRC, MRC, Department of Health and the EU Framework programmes. I remain a visiting fellow at Edinburgh University's Roslin Institute. I was widowed 17 years ago but for the previous decade was a director of my husband's computer consultancy business. My interest in learning disabilities was triggered by our elder daughter narrowly surviving birth hypoxia but with severe cognitive impairment. I have been learning from her for 26 years. She became one of the first Upward Mobility students after meeting the current Managing Director in 2006. As a result I have been involved with UPMO since its inception, my involvement increasing with UPMO's growth and ambition for those with learning disabilities.  My younger daughter is a student in the more traditional sense. I continue to serve on the Board and Executive of VOCAL (Voice or Carers across Lothian) in addition to my passion for Upward Mobility. I have always been interested in social policy, lifelong education and a fair and creative Scotland and feel very privileged to be right in the thick of it!  

John Ireson

Originally from Leicester and moved to Edinburgh in 1992, single parent of 2 grown up sons. My original career was as a teacher, firstly in a Sixth Form College in Leicester (teaching Sociology) then in a secondary school in rural Zimbabwe (teaching English and History). When I returned to England I had a number of short term contracts, teaching across every kind of educational setting, apart from the university sector, and including P1 Reception class, all categories of 'Special School', and prison-based education. Since moving to Scotland I have worked in the charity sector, first as a campaigner and fundraiser for Oxfam in Scotland and then for 10 years as Director of Skill Scotland: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities (which is how I first came into contact with Upward Mobility). I have served on the boards of several charities over the years, and I have a particular interest in good governance and equal opportunities. My main leisure activity is singing in community choirs, including traditional Scots songs and 'protest' songs. I also have a long standing interest in issues of environmental justice and international development.   John Ireson

Liz Taylor

After an early career in general management in high street retailing, I specialised in training and development and then in International HR, working globally across a range of industry sectors. International travel is wonderful, but it does take you away from home a lot, so 5 years ago I decided on a “portfolio career”. I now work on a variety of HR projects, either independently or as an Associate Consultant for a career transition company. Helping people develop their careers has always been a major feature in my life and I learn lots in the process too. I am a Glasgow University graduate, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) and Secretary of the Scottish Alumni Club of IMD, one of the world’s top business schools.
On a personal level, I am married and keep in contact with a wide circle of family members and friends. UPMO has strong similarities to the entrepreneurial international start-up companies that I previously worked with and the UPMO “buzz” really appealed when I decided to get involved!

Claire Turnbull

I have had a long interest in the Project since my brother was one of the first students to benefit from Josh’s enthusiasm to create a different experience for people in Edinburgh.  I love the energy created in UPMO and see the difference we make to people’s lives. As a social worker, this was an invaluable outcome from a service.  After 16 years of working in East Lothian Council, as a social worker and latterly a senior, I decided I needed to spread my wings and try something new!  I joined Scotland’s only children’s hospice provision, CHAS, as Transition Team Manager in December 2014. We support young people to move into adulthood and age appropriate supports and activities.  I love my work but this is only part of my busy life … I have a daughter at home who keeps me busy, as well as a large family and interests in gardening, reading, cooking, travelling and music.  

Sophie Dow

Born in Sweden and moved, via 12 years in London, to Edinburgh in 1994. Married with 3 wonderful children. Set up 'Mindroom' in 2000 - a small Scottish charity with a big vision to support people with learning difficulties and their families.
I have secretly admired UPMO ever since our daughter Annie started going years ago. I say secretly as I have never really expressed our gratitude for, first of all, the very existence of UPMO, secondly the professionalism of the staff and thirdly (and very selfishly), the culture of complete lack of parental reproach that exists at UPMO.
The various workshops they provide are varied and exciting.
I would like to help UPMO achieve its aspiration of growth and expansion and I believe that some of my skills (journalism, networking, Mindroom) could be of use.
Society has a long way to go in creating a meaningful and dignified existence for anyone with Additional Support Needs, (unemployment rate is 93%) but UPMO is, could and should be an excellent example of what can be done.