Who we are

Meet the team

Angel Eyes NI is run by a Committee made up of passionate and dedicated parents and professionals who want to support others and ensure all parents receive the information they need from diagnosis of their child.

From Left to right Frances Hill (past Chairwoman), Sara McCracken (Chief Executive), Paula Robson (Family Focus Parent Support), Elaine Orwin (Chairwoman) and Karen Wilson (Family Insight Education Advocate).

From Left to right Frances Hill (past Chairwoman), Sara McCracken (Chief Executive), Paula Robson (Family Focus Parent Support), Elaine Orwin (Chairwoman) and Karen Wilson (Family Insight Education Advocate).

Sara McCracken   Chief Executive

Sara McCracken

Chief Executive

Elaine Orwin   Chairperson  Elaine was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration at the age of 4. No support was on offer for her parents and her support in education consisted of being sat at the front of the class. Her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams and she went onto Queen’s University and graduated with an honour’s degree in history. She qualified as a teacher and spend 25 years teaching where every day was so special.  Elaine retired in 2010 and is currently a campaigner for Guide Dogs NI and has been closely involved with the direction and content of campaigns. She also leads the Bangor Macular group where she chair’s meetings, organises speakers and works closely with the committee to ensure the smooth running of the group. She also attends the All-Party Working Group for Visual Impairment at Stormont and has good relationships with both MLA’s and local councillors.  Elaine has been a wonderful chair since March 2016, representing the charity at Stormont and the VI Sector Forum. She has attended lots of events, meeting parents and families to understand the support that is delivered by Angel Eyes NI, and how this can be developed. She is passionate that every child will achieve their dream and that parents should not feel isolated without a voice. Elaine also chair the Education Sub Committee where with her skills and experience come into their own.

Elaine Orwin

Chairperson

Elaine was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration at the age of 4. No support was on offer for her parents and her support in education consisted of being sat at the front of the class. Her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams and she went onto Queen’s University and graduated with an honour’s degree in history. She qualified as a teacher and spend 25 years teaching where every day was so special.

Elaine retired in 2010 and is currently a campaigner for Guide Dogs NI and has been closely involved with the direction and content of campaigns. She also leads the Bangor Macular group where she chair’s meetings, organises speakers and works closely with the committee to ensure the smooth running of the group. She also attends the All-Party Working Group for Visual Impairment at Stormont and has good relationships with both MLA’s and local councillors.

Elaine has been a wonderful chair since March 2016, representing the charity at Stormont and the VI Sector Forum. She has attended lots of events, meeting parents and families to understand the support that is delivered by Angel Eyes NI, and how this can be developed. She is passionate that every child will achieve their dream and that parents should not feel isolated without a voice. Elaine also chair the Education Sub Committee where with her skills and experience come into their own.

Rachel Hogan   Secretary  Rachel is a Barrister who has been employed by the Children's Law Centre since 2008 as a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) Representative.  In this role, Rachel provides legal advice and information to children and their parents, as well as professionals and any interested parties working with children. In strategic cases, she provides free legal representation in Tribunal hearings to ensure enforcement of children's legal rights to educational provision and to protect children from disability discrimination within Education. Rachel is also involved as part of CLC's legal team in broader strategic litigation, policy work and provision of training in relation to children's rights.  Rachel is the current Secretary on the Board of Angel Eyes NI. She decided to join the Board as she was extremely impressed by the knowledge, energy and commitment of members and volunteers. She enjoys membership of the Board at a time when Angel Eyes NI is growing from strength to strength, bringing more and more services and support to children and their families.

Rachel Hogan

Secretary

Rachel is a Barrister who has been employed by the Children's Law Centre since 2008 as a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) Representative.

In this role, Rachel provides legal advice and information to children and their parents, as well as professionals and any interested parties working with children. In strategic cases, she provides free legal representation in Tribunal hearings to ensure enforcement of children's legal rights to educational provision and to protect children from disability discrimination within Education. Rachel is also involved as part of CLC's legal team in broader strategic litigation, policy work and provision of training in relation to children's rights.

Rachel is the current Secretary on the Board of Angel Eyes NI. She decided to join the Board as she was extremely impressed by the knowledge, energy and commitment of members and volunteers. She enjoys membership of the Board at a time when Angel Eyes NI is growing from strength to strength, bringing more and more services and support to children and their families.

 
Frances Hill   Board Member (previous Chair)  Frances currently works as the Bank of England's main representative in Northern Ireland. Prior to moving to Northern Ireland in 2008, she worked in the City of London in a variety of roles including U.K., US and Far East equity fund management, and as a Bank of England representative in the Greater London area.  Frances has a first-class honour in Financial Economics and is an associate of the CFA. Frances is married with one daughter and two step-daughters, her daughter has a cortical visual impairment with nystagmus, as a result of contracting meningitis when 2 weeks old. Frances has served on the board for 5 years, including 3 years as Chair, which saw the Charity grown exponentially and employ staff.

Frances Hill

Board Member (previous Chair)

Frances currently works as the Bank of England's main representative in Northern Ireland. Prior to moving to Northern Ireland in 2008, she worked in the City of London in a variety of roles including U.K., US and Far East equity fund management, and as a Bank of England representative in the Greater London area.

Frances has a first-class honour in Financial Economics and is an associate of the CFA. Frances is married with one daughter and two step-daughters, her daughter has a cortical visual impairment with nystagmus, as a result of contracting meningitis when 2 weeks old. Frances has served on the board for 5 years, including 3 years as Chair, which saw the Charity grown exponentially and employ staff.

Torie Tennant   Board Member  Torie was born 3 months early which resulted in her being totally blind. She attended Jordanstown School in Belfast from primary to secondary school and completed a range of GCSE subjects. When she left school, she volunteered at the Cedar Foundation teaching blind and partially sighted adults how to use a computer with a screen reader, using her personal experience of computers to get the adults up and running with the basics of a computer. She is currently working her second guide dog and is involved with Guide Dogs as a speaker giving talks to schools and groups. She is the chair of the Ballymena fundraising branch of Guide Dogs. She campaigned to get audio announcements on metro buses in Belfast and won an award in 2013 for her campaigning work as a young person.  Torie sits on the disability consultation panel for the Northern Health Trust and has recently been appointed chair of the panel. She has delivered disability equality training to Trust staff as part of her role.  Torie leads a very active life and believes in making the most of every opportunity presented to her. She attends an art class on a Thursday morning in Belfast for visually impaired adults which has been exhibited to mainstream audiences.  Torie is currently the minutes secretary on the Board of Trustees of Angel Eyes NI, as is keen to ensure that visually impaired children be given the same opportunities as fully sighted and to become as independent as possible a from a young age.

Torie Tennant

Board Member

Torie was born 3 months early which resulted in her being totally blind. She attended Jordanstown School in Belfast from primary to secondary school and completed a range of GCSE subjects. When she left school, she volunteered at the Cedar Foundation teaching blind and partially sighted adults how to use a computer with a screen reader, using her personal experience of computers to get the adults up and running with the basics of a computer. She is currently working her second guide dog and is involved with Guide Dogs as a speaker giving talks to schools and groups. She is the chair of the Ballymena fundraising branch of Guide Dogs. She campaigned to get audio announcements on metro buses in Belfast and won an award in 2013 for her campaigning work as a young person.

Torie sits on the disability consultation panel for the Northern Health Trust and has recently been appointed chair of the panel. She has delivered disability equality training to Trust staff as part of her role.

Torie leads a very active life and believes in making the most of every opportunity presented to her. She attends an art class on a Thursday morning in Belfast for visually impaired adults which has been exhibited to mainstream audiences.

Torie is currently the minutes secretary on the Board of Trustees of Angel Eyes NI, as is keen to ensure that visually impaired children be given the same opportunities as fully sighted and to become as independent as possible a from a young age.

Claire MacManus   Board Member  Claire is a Digital Project Manager for a local public housing body. After gaining her MSc in Computer Science and Applications, Claire has enjoyed several roles as a Programmer, L&D Specialist, ECDL Test Centre Manager, and Personnel Systems Manager. She is also a Committee member of the Belfast Branch of the British Computing Society.  Claire was delighted to join the Board in 2016 at a time when Angel Eyes NI is going from strength to strength and is continually impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication demonstrated by the staff, volunteers, the children and their families. Claire has been instrumental in our new website and supporting Social Innovation.

Claire MacManus

Board Member

Claire is a Digital Project Manager for a local public housing body. After gaining her MSc in Computer Science and Applications, Claire has enjoyed several roles as a Programmer, L&D Specialist, ECDL Test Centre Manager, and Personnel Systems Manager. She is also a Committee member of the Belfast Branch of the British Computing Society.

Claire was delighted to join the Board in 2016 at a time when Angel Eyes NI is going from strength to strength and is continually impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication demonstrated by the staff, volunteers, the children and their families. Claire has been instrumental in our new website and supporting Social Innovation.

Paul is a Partner who heads the Ireland Employment Law team in Pinsent Masons. Previously, Paul worked for over ten years in HR Management within the manufacturing, engineering, retail and construction sectors.    Paul is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is Past-Chair of the Northern Ireland CIPD Branch. Paul is Visiting Professor to the School of Law at Ulster University and sits on the CBI Employment & Skills Committee. Paul specialises in advising public and private sector clients on contentious and non-contentious matters, TUPE, equality and diversity (including public sector equality duties), policy and procedure, organisational structure and development and strategic HR support. He specialises in employment matters in reorganisations and insolvency.  Paul is a regular employment law speaker for Legal Island, the CIPD, CBI and other organisations as well as delivering the CIPD accredited Advanced Diploma in Employment Law. He has been on the Angel Eyes Board for 2 years and is also a Board Member of the Ulster Orchestra.  Paul has been a member of the Board since March 2106 and has supported the Charity in giving pro bono legal advice and support, hosting the board meetings and supporting in fundraising.

Paul is a Partner who heads the Ireland Employment Law team in Pinsent Masons. Previously, Paul worked for over ten years in HR Management within the manufacturing, engineering, retail and construction sectors.

Paul is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is Past-Chair of the Northern Ireland CIPD Branch. Paul is Visiting Professor to the School of Law at Ulster University and sits on the CBI Employment & Skills Committee. Paul specialises in advising public and private sector clients on contentious and non-contentious matters, TUPE, equality and diversity (including public sector equality duties), policy and procedure, organisational structure and development and strategic HR support. He specialises in employment matters in reorganisations and insolvency.

Paul is a regular employment law speaker for Legal Island, the CIPD, CBI and other organisations as well as delivering the CIPD accredited Advanced Diploma in Employment Law. He has been on the Angel Eyes Board for 2 years and is also a Board Member of the Ulster Orchestra.

Paul has been a member of the Board since March 2106 and has supported the Charity in giving pro bono legal advice and support, hosting the board meetings and supporting in fundraising.

Cara Taylor   Board Member  Currently working as a Business Growth Enabler for Ulster Bank, a role that offers support to local SMEs, Cara has over 8 years sales and marketing experience and an MSc Business Development and Innovation and was featured on the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list.  Having always had a love of volunteering for charities, Cara played a key role in supporting Cavan’s First Steps, a successful fundraising campaign that raised well over its £80,000 target to send a local toddler with Cerebral Palsy to America for a ground-breaking operation in 2016 that has allowed him to walk. Having previously been involved in fundraising for Cavan’s First Steps, in 2018 it was time for a new and more permanent challenge with a local charity.

Cara Taylor

Board Member

Currently working as a Business Growth Enabler for Ulster Bank, a role that offers support to local SMEs, Cara has over 8 years sales and marketing experience and an MSc Business Development and Innovation and was featured on the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list.

Having always had a love of volunteering for charities, Cara played a key role in supporting Cavan’s First Steps, a successful fundraising campaign that raised well over its £80,000 target to send a local toddler with Cerebral Palsy to America for a ground-breaking operation in 2016 that has allowed him to walk. Having previously been involved in fundraising for Cavan’s First Steps, in 2018 it was time for a new and more permanent challenge with a local charity.

Rachel Ketola   Board Member  Rachel moved to Northern Ireland from London in 2013 where she worked as a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society. Prior to this she held positions at International Childcare Trust and the Brain and Spine Foundation.  Rachel currently works for Queen’s University engaging with alumni and friends of Queen’s assisting them to support the University.  Rachel hopes to use her fundraising skills and experience to help Angel Eyes NI support more families throughout Northern Ireland.

Rachel Ketola

Board Member

Rachel moved to Northern Ireland from London in 2013 where she worked as a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society. Prior to this she held positions at International Childcare Trust and the Brain and Spine Foundation.

Rachel currently works for Queen’s University engaging with alumni and friends of Queen’s assisting them to support the University.

Rachel hopes to use her fundraising skills and experience to help Angel Eyes NI support more families throughout Northern Ireland.