Committee Info

Access Bedford and the D/deaf community together can make a huge difference, find out more about our Trustees and Volunteer committee members below.

Committee Info

Access Bedford is run by a group of volunteers – the 2020/21 Committee is made up of 3 trustees and 3 committee members who coordinate a range of events and activities across Bedford Borough to improve access for the D/deaf community locally


Catherine Wright

Trustee & Chairperson

I am one of the founding members of Access Bedford and took over as Chair in 2016, I have enjoyed being part of Access Bedford over the years and it is a privilege to support and sign post our deaf community in Bedford.  

Deaf space is one of our most successful projects and I really enjoy meeting new faces and our regular clients each month. It’s great to be able to support them and to see their joy!

I love being with the Young and Heart group, this group is for people aged over 50, we keep in touch regularly to makes sure that they are not isolated.

I am passionate about our deaf community as my eldest daughter was born deaf, both myself and my husband are deaf and have a younger hearing daughter, who can sign, and lip read.

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 to join Access Bedford and support our community.

Helene Bolton


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

During my time as a trustee I have successfully applied for grants from The National Lottery, The Harpur Trust emergency fund and Adept. This money has enabled us to continue our Deaf Space drop-in service, and move the service online throughout the COVID19 Pandemic, support our Young at Heart group and provide a ‘BSL Café’ to learners of all levels.

I am also a keen runner and along with several committee members, past and present, have established links with Bedford Parkrun and Bedford RunFest, we have been a Charity partner with Bedford RunFest for the last 3 years. This gives us an amazing opportunity to fundraise and to raise awareness of Access Bedford.

I am proud of the work we do and am pleased to say that we now have an Education budget, run several Basic BSL taster sessions, provide Deaf awareness training, and offer an English to BSL video translation service. I am passionate about the Deaf community, breaking down barriers and connecting with local businesses and service providers in and around Bedford Borough.

Ally Tree


I joined Access Bedford as a volunteer committee member in 2018 and became a trustee in May 2020. I’ve been attending events run by Access Bedford since 2016.

Over the last four years Access Bedford has meant so much to me, since in 2015 my eldest son was born deaf. Meeting members of the local deaf community helped me not to worry and shape my understanding of what it is like bringing up a child who can benefit from both the deaf world and hearing world. As I have become more involved with Access Bedford and learned to communicated in BSL, my eyes have been opened to the richness of deaf culture as well as the heartbreak of barriers to accessibility. Being a part of the work we do at Access Bedford means I can give back to the community who have welcomed me as one of their own.

Over the last two years I have been involved in supporting Access Bedford at the Bedford Half Marathon and Run Fest; our Health and Wellbeing day with Yumma Food and most recently in admin support for our Deaf Space service and BSL Taster sessions. I’m really excited about our opportunities to reach more people through our Deaf Space and education streams this year thanks to funding we have received from Lottery Funding and Adept. Something that I am hopeful we will be able to facilitate post-COVID is support and education for other families of deaf children.

My vision is for Bedford Borough to be a fully accessible and inclusive town in which deaf culture and community thrives because deaf people and their families are able to use local services and businesses. We will get there by empowering deaf people to let services know what they want, by raising levels of deaf awareness in local institutions and by supporting deaf people and their families through this process.


Lisa Charlish

Volunteer Committee

I joined Access Bedford in May 2020, having had a Cochlear implant fitted in February 2020, I wanted to give back my time to the local community to create awareness in the deaf community, as I struggled alone for years, I went through mainstream school with a teacher for deaf.

I’m keen to fundraise for Access Bedford to enable us to grow within our community and support follow members. I also enjoy supporting at the events we organise like our Quiz nights, Bingo, Sign Song workshops and BSL Café.

Ciaran McCarthy

Volunteer Committee

I have lived in Kempston for almost 25 years. I am mental health support worker working with deaf patients and I was born profoundly deaf.

I have been a member of Access Bedford for 3 years but I became a volunteer committee member in May 2020. I joined access bedford because it is an amazing local deaf community group which improves awareness and accessibility for deaf people. I also love working with deaf people and helping with people who want to learn sign language. I really enjoy encouraging people and helping them achieve their goals.

I have been creating and hosting quiz nights for Access Bedford, virtual online quizes and at fundraising events, like Quiz & cake, where we can have some competitive fun! These events are fun we have a good time and also improve our knowledge!

Marie Biswell

Volunteer Committee

My name is Marie and I am one of the volunteer committee members for Access Bedford, I joined the team in March of 2020. My role so far within the team has been to provide English to BSL translations for videos for the Deaf community and to support in signing stories for the ‘Stay at home’ Story time project throughout lockdown.

I wanted to join the committee of Access Bedford because I worked with them to interpret for a music festival for them and I loved their work ethic and the amazing work they do to support the Deaf community and I wanted to be able to support this. Within my daily role I am a BSL interpreter and also work with children who have various disabilities within their homes.


We need you! We have opportunities for all types of volunteers, social media experts, event’s organisers, interpreters, campaigners, BSL tutors, family/ community engagement volunteers. If you are passionate about BSL, D/deaf culture and community we would love to meet you.