Meet The Team

Together, Access Bedford and the D/deaf community breaks down barriers and changes lives.
Find out more about our Team of Trustees,
Committee Members and Staff.

Committee Info

Access Bedford is run by a group of volunteers – the 2023/4 Committee is made up of 3 trustees and 6 committee members – and one part time member of staff.


Catherine Wright

Trustee & Chairperson

Catherine is one of the founding members of Access Bedford and took over as Chair in 2016. She has enjoyed being part of Access Bedford over the years and feels privileged to support the deaf community in Bedford.  

Deaf space is one of Access Bedford’s most successful projects and Catherine really enjoys meeting both new faces and regular clients each month. 

As the lead volunteer for the Friday and Saturday Morning social activities, Catherine ensures that Deaf residents of Bedford have a place to meet with friends and feel a sense of community. 

Catherine is passionate about the deaf community as her eldest child was born deaf,  and both Catherine and her husband are deaf. They also have a younger, hearing daughter, who can sign, and lip read.

Catherine says, “It is amazing to see Access Bedford growing with our fantastic volunteers and Trustee, we couldn’t do it without them. I would love to see more deaf people join Access Bedford and support our community”

Helene Bolton


Helene joined Access Bedford in 2016 as a volunteer committee member and became a Trustee in 2017.

During her time as a trustee, Helene has successfully applied for grants from The National Lottery, The Harpur Trust emergency fund and Adept. More recently, Helene has secured funding from UK Deaf Sport, which has been used to set up accessible fitness classes for different groups of service users, plus funding from Bedford and Luton Community Foundation, which has brought stability and sustainability to the charity, including paying for a part-time Admin manager for 2 years. 

Helene is a keen runner and along with several committee members, past and present, has established links with Bedford Parkrun and Bedford RunFest. This gives Access Bedford an amazing opportunity to fundraise.

An NRCPD Registered BSL Interpreter, Helene says “I am passionate about the Deaf community, breaking down barriers and connecting with local businesses and service providers – we would love to see even more organisations getting involved in improving access in and around Bedford.”


Becky James


Becky joined the Access Bedford Trustees in May 2023. 

As a Director in the IT and Litigation sector, Becky brings a wealth of knowledge regarding project management as well as coaching and mentoring.

As a parent of a child with hearing loss, Becky brings an understanding of the issues many hearing parents face in accessing services and support. She is a champion of early access to language, and has signed with her son since he was 6 months old. 

Becky’s focus for her term as Trustee is to support the committee to set up and run fully funded, face to face, family signing classes. 

She is passionate about helping hearing parents in Bedford access Sign Language and supporting them to communicate with their children during the critical first 1000 days. 

Becky says “I see the inequalities which come when children do not have early access to language and I share the frustration of many parents at the cost and inavailability of good quality BSL classes for families. I hope we can help to change these outcomes for children in the future”.



Emily Andrews

Volunteer Committee Chairperson

My name is Emily and I am one of the volunteer committee members for Access Bedford. 

Lisa Charlish

Volunteer Committee

Lisa joined Access Bedford in May 2020, having had a Cochlear implant fitted in February 2020. 

Following her implant, Lisa wanted to spend more time in the Deaf community, to support others and help to create awareness of the need for connection, having I struggled alone for years.  Lisa says “I went through mainstream school with a teacher of the deaf, and grew up in a hearing family. I missed out on the support of Deaf peers and others who could understand my world, and I want others to know that we are here for them and will support them.” 

Lisa supports the charity by using her graphic design knowledge to help create artwork and social media content. She also volunteers at many of the activities, leading on quiz afternoons and supporting coffee mornings and social activities.

Bob Rose

Volunteer Committee

Bob is the lead Volunteer for the Education Team at Access Bedford.  He was born hearing and became Deaf when he was 4-years-old. 

When Bob first started losing his hearing, he used hearing aids, to enable him to listen to music, including his favourite -Bob Marley. 

As Bob grew more confident and comfortable with his Deaf identity, and became fluent in BSL, he stopped wearing hearing aids. 

Bob teaches British Sign Language Level 1,2,3 and level 6 at Remark! in London and is also deliving a Level 1 course on behalf of Acess Bedford, in Bedford town centre.  

Sadika Shahjahan

Volunteer Committee

Sadika volunteers on the Access Bedford Education Team. She was born deaf and started learning BSL in Nursery. 

She teaches our Foundation and Taster classes and is studying for a qualification to teach BSL Levels 1 – 3.

Sadika says ” I love teaching people to sign and introducing new people to BSL. In my spare time I like to travel and go to the gym.”

Lissy Malt

Volunteer Committee

Lissy joined the Committee in 2023 and is excited to bring her volunteer management and Theatre skills to the charity. 

Lissy’s hearing loss stems from nerve damage caused by having measles as a very young baby.  Tinnitus started when she was a child and got progressively worse as she grew older. Lissy now has profound high frequency hearing loss. This greatly reduces her ability to hear conversation. She lip reads and uses hearing aids.

Lissy says “It is very tiring and often isolating to have hearing loss. I feel like I miss out on so much of the day to day chatter and noise of life. I am delighted to join the Committee of Access Bedford, as the work we do to support and improve inclusion is a life line for so many people in our community.”

Val Morris

Volunteer Committee

Val joined the Committee in May 2023, having attended coffee morning and social events for a few years. She takes an active role in creating BSL videos for our events and activities to ensure our community has access to the information they need.

Jo Emmerson

Charity Manager

Jo joined Access Bedford as a part time (paid) admin manager in October 2022, and was promoted to Charity Manager in 2024.  She supports the Committee and Trustees across all areas of the charity. 

Jo is the child of a Deaf adult, has hearing loss and is the parent of a child with hearing loss. Jo is the first paid member of staff at Access Bedford, and says “We may be a small charity but we have such a huge impact on people’s lives. I want my son to grow up feeling proud of the deaf community he is part of. The service users, volunteers and partner organisations I work with every day at Access Bedford give me so much hope for the future.”

Jo’s role is funded by Bedford and Luton Community Foundation up until October 2024.


  • We have opportunities for all types of volunteers, including:
  • social media experts
  • event organisers
  • interpreters
  • campaigners
  • BSL tutors
  • family/ community engagement volunteers. 


If you are passionate about BSL, D/deaf culture and community, get in touch: [email protected]