Meet the FANDF Committee

The Forces Additional Needs & Disability Forum committee helps oversee the FANDF strategy, development and organisation, to ensure the best outcomes for all our service users.

Chair - Stephanie Quintrell

Stephanie Quintrell is wife to Jon, a soldier, and mother to Dylan, who is 6 years old. Steph is a full time wheelchair user with very limited use in one hand, and lives with a number of complex health issues, due to a neurological disorder she has. She is passionate about shaping the future for other disabled people, in particular disabled parents. Their son Dylan lives with challenging additional needs, has an EHCP in place with 1:1 full time support, and is currently going through the process of assessments and testing, to receive a formal diagnosis/multiple diagnoses. Steph is excited to be taking on the role of Chair of the FANDF committee.


Vice Chair - Karen Ross

Karen Ross has been a member of the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) Committee for several years. She has seen the FANDF evolve and develop its wider stakeholder involvement, with maintaining a strong focus on supporting Armed Forces families with additional needs and disability.

Karen is also an adult with paraplegia and is an essential wheelchair user. Before she became a paraplegic, she was a nurse and midwife, having worked in the NHS and overseas as well as serving in the QARANC. She is married to a serving Army Officer and has two adult children.

Karen also works for the Army Families Federation as their Health and Additional Needs Specialist.


Committee Member - Emma Hughes

WO2 Emma Hughes, currently serving with the Royal Military Police in Upavon is a mother to 2 boys, Oakley aged 9 and Chester aged 6.  When Chester was born he suffered from a blocked bowel requiring emergency surgery, he was later diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a complex condition affecting the lungs and digestive system. 

Emma has been a member of the FANDF committee since 2017 when she was struggling to adapt to life as a serving soldier with a chronically sick child.  She is passionate about helping shape MOD policy to help those juggling complex medical conditions with Service life for both the serving personnel and their families.


Committee Member - Mick Mayes

Mick Mayes has been in the Army for over 35 years. He is employed in a Senior Soldier Continuity Post (SSCP) and is currently assigned in a unit welfare office in a Tri-service location.  His daughter is diagnosed with high functioning autism.  Mick Joined the committee in 2020.


Committee Member - Michelle Earnshaw

Michelle Earnshaw, an Army veteran, is married to Mark who is now a reservist officer currently working with NATO.  They have two sons, Matthew and Alexander.  Alexander was diagnosed as being Dyslexic and Dysgraphic in 2013 and was subsequently diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism in 2014.  Michelle became a member of the FANDF after the boys attended the SSAFA short breaks, from which the family have benefited enormously, and joined the committee after attending the conference in 2014. 

Whilst Vice-Chair of the FANDF Committee, Michelle undertook the 30th Anniversary survey in 2019 and was the author of the Families Fighting On report, presenting the findings directly to the MOD and other key organisations at the launch event in January 2020.


Committee Member - Noreen Hamnett

Noreen Hamnett is a MOD civil servant and military spouse who joined the committee in 2017, she has three children and three grandchildren. Accompanying her husband on an overseas posting gave her the opportunity to take a moment of self-reflection and the decision to invest more time on herself.  One promise she made was to visit an EP who diagnosed Noreen with dyslexia in 2019 at the age of 43.  The result came as a shock, but not a surprise.


Committee Member - Hannah Illingworth

Hannah Illingworth runs her own business providing Business Management/Operations Support to other small businesses. Her husband is a serving Army Officer and she is also an Army Reservist of 30 years, currently with the Royal Anglian Regiment. Two of her three children have a diagnosis of Autism so Hannah joined the FANDF committee in 2017 as she wanted to help give families like hers a voice. She is responsible for managing the FANDF social media pages’


Committee Member - Jo Gordon

Jo Gordon has been an Army wife for 26 years so far, she has two children aged 25 and 21. Her son has rare Chromosome abnormalities that result in him needing round the clock care and support. Jo joined the FANDF committee in 2020. 


Committee Members - Surgeon Commander Alan Bowie and Alison Bowie

Alison and Alan Bowie

Surgeon Commander Alan Bowie and his wife Alison have been FANDF committee members since 2015, having previously benefitted from the short breaks service and seen how SSAFA and FANDF contribute to improving the life of Service personnel and families affected by chronic illness or additional needs. Their two sons have varying levels of disability.  Her older son is profoundly autistic and her younger son has a genetic abnormality that causes developmental and behavioural difficulties. 

As a GP in the Royal Navy, Alan regularly encounters personnel dealing with their own ill health or trying to manage the health of a disabled family member while also carrying out their military duties. He knows what a struggle that can be. As in civilian life, military GPs work closely with welfare agencies and with specialist services within the forces including the Chaplaincy service and charities.

Alison is a full time Mum and carer, as well as a trustee of Portsmouth charity “Enable Ability”.  She is looking forward to seeing how FANDF can represent Forces families and drive change in policy.


Committee Member - Colonel Tim Symonds

Colonel Tim Symonds has been in the Army for 24 years. He is currently employed in a Personnel Transformation role and is well read into the latest Defence policy on areas such as families and housing.

Tim’s wife is also a serving Army Officer (in a Reserve role now after 16 years as a Regular). Their daughter has complex needs; autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and learning difficulties. They faced many challenges going through the EHCP process and were not sure where to turn to for help. Tim joined the committee in 2021 as he was keen to increase awareness within the Army (and wider Defence) to ensure families going through similar issues, know that there are organisations out there ready to support them.