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OUR TEAM

THE MENTAL HEALTH PEOPLE FOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTSPEOPLE

SENIOR MANAGEMENT

COLIN BLAND

Chief Executive Officer

Colin has over two decades of experience of managing and leading in charities delivering mental health and emotional wellbeing services. For much of this time he has led services specialising in addiction and working with clients and systems with particularly complex needs.

Colin has over two decades of experience of managing and leading in charities delivering mental health and emotional wellbeing services. For much of this time he has led services specialising in addiction and working with clients and systems with particularly complex needs. He joined Sporting Chance in 2012 and put in place systems and structures that we believe are key to achieving our vision: "When any sportsman or woman has the courage to reach out for help, there needs to be a professional and safe place for them to go. Sporting Chance can be that place."

His sporting C.V is slightly pathetic, although it does include a spell in Cornish rugby. He considers his lack of familiarity with the 'Who's Who' of the sporting world an unusual strength in his role.

Colin is answerable to the board of trustees and is charged with developing the reach and quality of our service in line with our stakeholders' expectations.

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SHELLIE HEATHER 

Chief Operating Officer

Shellie joined the charity in 2011 following a successful career in teaching and school leadership. Her experience of mainstream and sports education spanned over fifteen at her time of joining Sporting Chance.

Shellie joined the charity in 2011 following a successful career in teaching and school leadership. Her experience of mainstream and sports education spanned over fifteen at her time of joining Sporting Chance. Her organisational ability was key in the re-structuring of the charity's services and the creation of the national network of counsellors and therapists. Shellie oversees all the charity's service departments ensuring governance, administrative and financial systems are robust and fit for purpose. Her understanding of sports administration and the financial structures that support it enables our services to be delivered to those in need with efficiency and the minimum of red tape.

Shellie has a thorough understanding of Sporting Chance combined with an ability to communicate how our services fit in the world of professional sport and ultimately help the player in need. Shellie trained as a dancer in her younger life and therefore has first-hand experience of the discipline, routine and commitment required in the world of the physical athlete.

CLINICAL SERVICES

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CRAIG DEXTER

Head of Clinical Services

Craig took up this full-time role with Sporting Chance well aware of the history of our charity and the work that we do; up until that point he had been a valued member of our counselling network for a number of years, supporting current and former professional sportspeople in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Craig took up this full-time role with Sporting Chance well aware of the history of our charity and the work that we do; up until that point he had been a valued member of our counselling network for a number of years, supporting current and former professional sportspeople in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. Since qualifying as a therapist, Craig has worked with individuals to address a wide range of issues that might be causing them problems in their personal lives.

 

As well as building up his own private practice over the last decade, he has also worked at a community-based substance misuse service in Hull, initially in the role of a counsellor, then senior practitioner and latterly as a team leader, responsible for managing the treatment team and treatment delivery. Having made the move to Sporting Chance, Craig now has oversight of all of the charity’s clinical operations as well as our longstanding relationship with Rugby League. He has an enviable collection of vinyl records.

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MARCIA EWEN

Residential Therapist

Marcia is a humanistic counsellor with over 20 years’ experience of working in 12-step treatment facilities motivated by her own experience of addiction. She originally joined the Sporting Chance counselling network before becoming part of the team as a residential therapist at our Hampshire clinic in early 2021.

Marcia is a humanistic counsellor with over 20 years’ experience of working in 12-step treatment facilities motivated by her own experience of addiction. She originally joined the Sporting Chance counselling network before becoming part of the team as a residential therapist at our Hampshire clinic in early 2021.

 

Her career began at a crisis intervention centre in London and she continued this work for many years working in substance abuse-detox, residential, and crisis intervention initiatives in Sussex and London before taking on a multifaceted and rewarding role at a women’s refuge project in Brighton.

Marcia progressed to managing a highly successful 12 Step Day Programme for several years and continued to work at highly reputable treatment and recovery centres in the South of England. Marcia has enjoyed her work in developing and delivering training programmes for professionals, volunteers and clients on a range of subjects including addiction, trauma, sexual violence and abuse. Away from the clinic, Marcia enjoys reading, meditation, yoga and long walks with her dog.

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BARRY TROTT

Senior Practitioner

Barry trained as a humanistic therapist in 2001, motivated by his own experience of addiction and the interventions which helped him to turn his life around. He views sustainable recovery as a holistic package of the ‘three thirds’ of the human condition - mind, body and spirit

Barry trained as a humanistic therapist in 2001, motivated by his own experience of addiction and the interventions which helped him to turn his life around. He views sustainable recovery as a holistic package of the ‘three thirds’ of the human condition - mind, body and spirit - and has brought this philosophy into his extensive work in addiction-focused settings over the last two decades, primarily in residential treatment, but also in a successful day programme in the south of England.

Stepping up from session work to a full-time role when the clinic expanded in 2019, Barry works with clients on both longer and shorter-term residential treatments. He is a keen follower of test cricket and local football in Hampshire, and is also a regular runner, with exercise playing an important part in his long-term recovery. In his own words he has been ‘daft enough to complete five marathons - despite the excruciating physical and mental pain on each and every occasion’.

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ALISON MCLEAN

Therapist

Alison works with athletes with a wide range of presenting issues across our stakeholder sports and is a content creator and facilitator within our education department. She is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor, registered with the BACP, with a diverse range of experience working with young people and adults within the criminal justice system, mental health, counselling and addiction services.

Alison works with athletes with a wide range of presenting issues across our stakeholder sports and is a content creator and facilitator within our education department. She is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor, registered with the BACP, with a diverse range of experience working with young people and adults within the criminal justice system, mental health, counselling and addiction services. Whilst studying in York she worked as a restorative justice practitioner and as a counsellor for various organisations. She brings warmth and humanity into her clinical work, recognising these qualities are often absent in a high pressure world.

 

Originally studying for an MA in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews in her native Scotland, Alison embarked on her counselling qualifications at York St John University, completing a Certificate in Counselling Skills (Distinction) in 2016, a Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling in 2018 and an MA in Counselling two years later. She is passionate about modern research developments in the intersection between nervous system, mind and body is also a keen mindfulness practitioner, wild swimmer and allotment gardener! 

TRIAGE

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CLAIRE JONES

Triage Team

Claire joined Sporting Chance in 2020 following two decades travelling the world as cabin crew, where she excelled in customer service. The wealth of experience and the wide-ranging transferable skills that she demonstrated in this role made Claire the ideal person to join our Triage Team, where she combines her professional attributes with her passion for people, sport, and mental health.

Claire joined Sporting Chance in 2020 following two decades travelling the world as cabin crew, where she excelled in customer service. The wealth of experience and the wide-ranging transferable skills that she demonstrated in this role made Claire the ideal person to join our Triage Team, where she combines her professional attributes with her passion for people, sport, and mental health.

Claire has recently returned to education and is studying for a degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Her dedication to both mental and physical wellbeing is strongly aligned with the ethos of Sporting Chance.

Claire provides a kind, empathetic and positive voice for sportspeople contacting Sporting Chance. She has excellent communication and organisational skills, which ensures that clients experience a sense of security, compassion, hope and direction when speaking to her.

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ROSIE SQUIRE

Triage Team

After graduating with a degree in psychology from the University of Nottingham, Rosie has worked in the charity sector for over eight years, in a number of roles including support work on the frontline and managing volunteers.

After graduating with a degree in psychology from the University of Nottingham, Rosie has worked in the charity sector for over eight years, in a number of roles including support work on the frontline and managing volunteers. She has a wealth of experience and knowledge in relation to the issues faced by people who will be contacting Sporting Chance, thanks to her work in various fields including mental health, drug and alcohol support and domestic abuse.

As part of Rosie’s commitment to help those with mental health difficulties she has volunteered at numerous charities supporting those in distress over the phone and for the past four years has provided face to face support to those who feel life is no longer worth living.

EDUCATION, COMMUNICATIONS & ATHLETE ENGAGEMENT

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ALEX MILLS

Head of Education, Communications & Athlete Engagement

Alex joined the charity’s Education Department in 2016, a department which has since expanded to oversee athlete engagement in all forms. His team have a simple primary function - to increase the number of professional athletes who are aware of Sporting Chance and how its services can help them.

Alex joined the charity’s Education Department in 2016, a department which has since expanded to oversee athlete engagement in all forms. His team have a simple primary function - to increase the number of professional athletes who are aware of Sporting Chance and how its services can help them.

 

Alex’s role is still primarily focused on the management of an education programme that delivers a wide range of mental health related content to athletes and support staff across the bulk of professional sport in the UK. He works with athletes to understand the problems that impact their lives, and with therapists to best communicate the solutions that can change athletes’ lives for the better, influenced by his previous career as a specialist recruiter of headteachers and senior educationalists.

He has a degree in English Literature from the University of Newcastle. His fondness for reading and cricket was nurtured by his father who was a leading UK sports journalist.

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EDDIE JOHNSON

Athlete Engagement Manager & Northern Education Facilitator

Eddie is a former professional footballer, starting his career in the Manchester United academy system and representing England from U16 level through to the U20’s. He was part of United’s FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2003 and made his first team debut for United shortly after in a 3–2 League Cup victory at Leeds.

Eddie is a former professional footballer, starting his career in the Manchester United academy system and representing England from U16 level through to the U20’s. He was part of United’s FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2003 and made his first team debut for United shortly after in a 3–2 League Cup victory at Leeds.

He was loaned out to Royal Antwerp, Coventry and Crewe in his late teens before being released by United in 2006, playing regularly in subsequent stints at Bradford and Chester in the Football League prior to a  move to US outfit Portland Timbers in 2010 for a then club record fee. Following his retirement through injury aged 26, he has scouted and coached at various levels, including north of the border as U20 manager of Dundee.

There isn’t much Eddie hasn’t experienced in terms of the highs and lows of a footballing life, and it’s this understanding, coupled with his ability to communicate to younger players as a former coach, that makes him so well suited to the interactive education sessions we deliver at Sporting Chance.

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JAIME WILLIAMS

Commercial Strategy Consultant

Jaime joined Sporting Chance in 2021. His primary area of focus is developing the charity’s commercial strategy, helping to devise mutually beneficial partnerships between Sporting Chance and corporate partners. 

Jaime joined Sporting Chance in 2021. His primary area of focus is developing the charity’s commercial strategy, helping to devise mutually beneficial partnerships between Sporting Chance and corporate partners.

 

His work is key in identifying the potential for commercial opportunities in the short, medium and long term. His focus is both on building revenue for the charity and contributing to its profile via meaningful partnerships and activations. Jaime’s expertise is central in building the Sporting Chance brand, elevating the charity’s position in the world of sport.

 

Jaime’s background was forged amid the traditional advertising agency landscape. He has worked at a variety of WPP agencies, including Landor, Group M, and most notably, Ogilvy Sport & Entertainment, where he devised and implemented partnerships between Premier League football clubs and their top-tier sponsors.

 

In 2011, Jaime founded his own independent record label. It continues to support experimental artists and regularly releases ‘unlistenable pop music’, according to one broadsheet newspaper.

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PAUL MORTIMER

Southern Education Facilitator

Paul is another of the former athletes we are very fortunate to have within our education department, a professional footballer until injury forced him to stop playing at 31 and who has since gone on to carve out a multi-faceted post-playing career – one arguably as successful as his time on the pitch.

Paul is another of the former athletes we are very fortunate to have within our education department, a professional footballer until injury forced him to stop playing at 31 who has since gone on to carve out a multi-faceted post-playing career – one arguably as successful as his time on the pitch. As a player, Paul was best known for two fondly-remembered spells with South London side Charlton Athletic, either side of brief stints at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace. After retiring from playing, he held coaching roles with clubs including Wimbledon, Arsenal, the Sierra Leone national team and Charlton Women.

Since then, Paul has worked tirelessly and to great effect in and around the equalities agenda, as an educator for anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card and the inclusion and diversity organisation Kick It Out.

In recent years he trained as a counsellor and psychotherapist and also works on the Sporting Chance national network of therapists providing support to those in need - including many young footballers experiencing similar challenges to those he faced as a player.

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ELLIE GRIFFIN

Education, Communications and Athlete Engagement Departmental Assistant

Ellie joined the Sporting Chance team in the summer of 2021 as an assistant in the Education, Communications, and Athlete Engagement Department, a timely appointment for the charity as it sought to develop its outward-facing projects and authentically connect with more and more of the sportspeople entitled to use its services. 

Ellie joined the Sporting Chance team in the summer of 2021 as an assistant in the Education, Communications, and Athlete Engagement Department, a timely appointment for the charity as it sought to develop its outward-facing projects and authentically connect with more and more of the sportspeople entitled to use its services. 

Following her graduation from the University of York with a degree in French and Italian (she can also speak a basic level of Dutch), Ellie worked for a number of other charitable organisations prior to Sporting Chance, most recently GoodGym, a social start-up which connects runners, or those who want to get fit, with physical tasks which benefit their community.

Ellie is a keen national-level swimmer, training 6 times a week alongside working for Sporting Chance full time and she is also one of the Event Directors at York parkrun, helping to organise, manage and facilitate the free 5k event each week.

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CHRIS MURPHY

Communications Manager and Gambling Education Facilitator

Chris was appointed as Sporting Chance's Communications Manager in 2020 in addition his existing role of Gambling Education Facilitator, which he began a year earlier armed with a combination of his personal experience of gambling addiction and a decade of working in professional sport.

Chris was appointed as Sporting Chance's Communications Manager in 2020 in addition his existing role of Gambling Education Facilitator, which he began a year earlier armed with a combination of his personal experience of gambling addiction and a decade of working in professional sport.

 

He manages matters relating to communications and public relations and monitors the communications output and practices of the charity in the line with our communications policy.  His responsibilities include media relations, social media, project work, PR management and general copywriting.

Chris earned First Class Honours in Sports Journalism after returning to education as a mature student in 2010 when he began his journey from addiction to recovery. 

 

He then embarked on a career in sports media, handling public relations for many of the world’s top professional darts players before becoming a commentator.  Chris also has a role as Communications Manager for the Professional Darts Players Association.

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OISIN McCONVILLE

All-Ireland Education Facilitator

For those that follow Gaelic football, Oisin needs little introduction. For those that don’t (and don’t reside on the island of Ireland where Oisin is very much a household name), he’s the winner of Six All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championships with his club, Crossmaglen Rangers and the sport’s top prize with his county team, Armagh – the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

For those that follow Gaelic football, Oisin needs little introduction. For those that don’t (and don’t reside on the island of Ireland where Oisin is very much a household name), he’s the winner of Six All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championships with his club, Crossmaglen Rangers and the sport’s top prize with his county team, Armagh – the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Despite enjoying a glittering career which is still fondly remembered in his home county and beyond, Oisin developed a gambling addiction which nearly cost him his life. Hitting rock bottom, he spent 13 weeks at a rehabilitation centre in Galway in 2005, the first step on a journey of recovery which has raised the profile of gambling addiction in Ireland.

Oisin has helped hundreds of athletes in the UK and the Republic as a trained addictions counsellor and much sought after public speaker. He has worked for Sporting Chance for many years as part of our gambling education programme and leads Sporting Chance’s partnership with Sport Northern Ireland.

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