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Committee Biographies

Dr Angela Webb B.Ed (Hons.) MA, PhD, Chairman of NHA

 Angela is a psychologist who specialises in the cognitive and academic needs of children with developmental disorders, particularly Developmental Coordination Disorder. This has led to her interest in children with handwriting difficulties. She works in a multi-disciplinary team at The Queen Anne Street Practice in Central London and as an advisor in schools. She also lectures part-time at the UCL Institute of Education where her research focus is the link between handwriting and written composition. She has chaired NHA since 2006.

Mary Howard Dip.SpLD, Cert.Ed. MEd, PhD, AMBDA, Dip.O.T.

Mary is Education Director of the 3D Centre for Specific Learning Difficulties (for Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia) in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Mary initially trained as an occupational therapist and worked in paediatrics and psychiatry before becoming a teacher. She taught in special and mainstream settings from Early Years to Higher Education and eventually joined the Assessment and Learning Support Service in Calderdale. When this was disbanded in 2000 Mary worked independently and set up the 3D Centre to provide assessment and tuition for children and training for school staff. She was one of the first cohort of students on the Diploma in Handwriting at the Institute of Education run by the NHA and now tutors on the course. She has a postgraduate certificate in Developmental Co-ordination Disorder/Dyspraxia and a diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties.

Mary is joint vice chair, a member of the Inset Committee and administers the Tutor List.

Catherine Elsey Dip. COT, HPC Registered

Catherine qualified in Occupational Therapy in 1983 and has worked predominantly in neurology, specialising in paediatrics since 1997. Catherine assesses and treats children experiencing difficulties at school or at home to optimise their functional and learning potential. She has extensive experience working with children with specific learning difficulties, including Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia), Attention Deficit Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Integration difficulty.

Catherine joined the National Handwriting Association Committee in 2005 and is currently the Vice Chair.

Anna Barnett BA (Hons.), PhD, Cpsychol. Reader in Psychology

Anna is a Professor in Psychology at Oxford Brookes University. Her research focuses on various aspects of perceptual-motor development but she has a special interest in Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and in the assessment, teaching and learning of handwriting. Anna has been involved in producing the second edition of the popular Movement ABC test and is principal author of the Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (the DASH). These tools are being widely used by health and educational professionals to identify and help children with movement and handwriting difficulties. Anna's other publications include work on the assessment, description and developmental course of DCD,  handwriting difficulties in children with DCD, and the teaching of handwriting in primary schools.

Anna was on the NHA committee from 1995 -2013 and currently acts as Academic Advisor to the committee.

Anna has been on the NHA committee since 1995.

Gwen Dornan Teachers Certificate, Diploma in Calligraphy RIHE

Gwen trained as a primary school teacher and worked as a mainstream teacher for a number of years. She took up calligraphy during a career break while her own children were small. This led to teaching the subject at adult college and also sparked a particular interest in children's handwriting. She continued to develop this interest when she returned to part-time teaching in schools and spent ten years, until 2000, specialising in the teaching of handwriting throughout the junior department (ages 4-11) of a girls' school. She now works with individual children needing help with handwriting.

Gwen has been a member of NHA since its early days, has served on the committee for a number of years and is currently the Information Officer. She has written or co-authored the NHA publications: Which Handwriting Scheme, Choosing a Handwriting Scheme and Writing Left-handed and edits the Tips for Handwriting. She is part of the INSET team.

Amanda McLeod BA (Hons), PGCE, SpLD, AMBDA

Amanda McLeod earned her PGCE at Froebel College and worked as an Early Years/KS1 teacher in both independent & maintained schools. She gained her Specialist Teacher status with Dyslexia Action, University of York, and founded The McLeod Centre for Learning, in Central London, in 2008. The Centre was awarded CReSTeD status in 2014 in recognition of its teaching of pupils with specific learning difficulties. Amanda lectures, in the UK & internationally, on touch-typing, handwriting, literacy, study skills and learning difficulties. She sits on the Advisory Board of The Independent School, West London. Amanda is lead author & consultant of the Scholastic Handwriting scheme (Reception to Yr 6) and is currently developing a scheme with Usborne Publishing.

Amanda joined the NHA in 2009. She is one of their trainers and also their media representative.

Hilary Cook Cert Ed, RSA Dip SpLD

Hilary worked for many years in mainstream primary education as a class teacher, deputy head, and specialist support teacher. Until recently she was the Inclusion Manager at a school in Hackney. During her eleven years in this post she worked with children with a wide range of physical, emotional and learning needs. Building and developing a well trained team of more than twenty Teaching Assistants was a key part of her job.

She has been the recipient of four Best Practice Research Scholarships and has carried out a number of school-based literacy and numeracy projects working with a research team from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. She has also worked in collaboration with other professionals on the use of music and movement in the EY/FS. In 2006 she received a National Teaching Award as Special Needs Teacher of the Year.

Hilary joined the committee of the NHA in 2010. She is Honorary Secretary and INSET Liaison Officer.

Wendy Cumines Dip COT, MA SEN, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy

Wendy is an Occupational Therapy Lecturer at Cardiff University. Prior to this she worked for 23 years as a paediatric occupational therapist in a range of community, hospital and school settings across the UK. Wendy has extensive experience of working with children with motor and handwriting difficulties and with developing collaborative working practices between occupational therapy services and schools.

Wendy has recently joined the NHA committee as a sub-editor of the journal, with particular responsibility for the ‘Tips for teaching' section.

Robert Erhlander-Lawrence B.Sc., F.C.I.B. - Hon.Treasurer

Bob is semi-retired and has worked most of his life in the finance sector through banking (both home and abroad), insurance and lately accountancy. He is very active in education through his various maths and physics workshops for gifted and talented children.

Laraine Erhlanderr-Lawrence

Laraine is the Director of Learning Support at Danes Hill School in Surrey which is mixed day Preparatory school for 900 pupils aged 3-13 and a member of IAPS. She is a representative of IAPS on the ISC SEN Group. Her current role encompasses the identification and management of SEND, EAL and exceptionally able pupils from their early years to Common Entrance and scholarship exams for the Independent school sector. She also serves on the Pastoral, Academic and Reading Committees at the school. Her role of oversight of school admissions helps to ensure that all needs for new pupils can be identified. She has a good interest in handwriting and the development of writing skills in the wide range of children she encounters. Prior to her current post, she worked with ‘statemented’ children in Surrey, taught children who lived in temporary accommodation in London and with children who were referred to a behavioural unit in Bristol. She also set up and ran a Nursery in the Middle East.

Pam Hulme

Pam worked in primary education as a class teacher, senior manager, and advisor on all aspects of reading and writing. Her passion for the teaching of reading and writing led to involvement in a number of literacy projects within the UK and Europe including UKLA/QCA collaboration in More than Words: Multimodal Texts in the Classroom (2004).

From 2000-2003, Pam represented the UK Literacy Association on the International Reading Association’s European Committee (IDEC). She has attended seminars and presented literacy workshops throughout the UK and Europe. Pam’s key interest is the development of writing skills through the use of imagination and fantasy.

Following retirement from class teaching in 2010, Pam now combines voluntary work and individual tutoring of children. She has recently joined the INSET committee of the National Handwriting Association.

Joanna Moore DipCOT HCPC Registered

Joanna is a paediatric occupational therapist who has over 20 years experience specialising in paediatrics having worked in community paediatric services, paediatric brain injury rehabilitation, two specialist schools for pupils with specific language impairment and numerous mainstream and special schools.  Over the last 10 years she has worked in independent practice assessing and treating children in both mainstream and special schools within the state and independent sectors. Joanna also provides specialist assessments and evidence for SEND tribunals. Her specific areas of interest lie with children who have developmental co-ordination disorders (including dyspraxia), handwriting difficulties, sensory processing disorders and autistic spectrum disorders.

Joanna is a member of the NHA for INSET committee.

Mellissa Prunty BSc., MSc OT, PhD, HCPC Registered

Mellissa is a paediatric occupational therapist and lecturer in occupational therapy at Brunel University in London.  Her background prior to occupational therapy was in human movement science. She recently completed her PhD on handwriting difficulties in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), which she undertook at Oxford Brookes University under the guidance and supervision of Prof. Anna Barnett, Dr. Mandy Plumb and Dr. Kate Wilmut. She has worked in a variety of children’s services including independent practice since qualifying as an OT and specialises in working with children with coordination difficulties.

Mellissa joined the NHA in 2010 and has been a committee member since December 2013. She is a member of the editorial team for the NHA journal, Handwriting Today.

Lesley Harding BSc OT, MSc OT and Education, HCPC Registered

 Lesley is a paediatric occupational therapist who has 20 years experience in the NHS working in a range of community settings including home, school and child development centres. She specialises in the assessment of how developmental conditions (such as DCD, Dyslexia, Hypermobility, ADHD, Autism) impact on a child’s ability to access play, schoolwork, and self-care with a particular interest in supporting children with handwriting difficulties. Lesley also provides assessment and therapy for children and young people who have a profound and multiple disabilities who attend special schools, enabling them to access their daily life through specialised postural equipment.

Lesley joined the Handwriting Interest Group in 1999 before it became the NHA. Lesley recently became a member of the NHA for the publicity committee.

Emma Sumner BSc (Hons.), PhD, CPsychol

Emma is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London. In her current role she works with children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to this role she completed her PhD in the Department of Psychology at Oxford Brookes University, where she explored the written skills of children and adults with dyslexia. Her PhD investigated the relationship between spelling, vocabulary and handwriting in individuals with and without dyslexia, using digital writing tablets to examine the writing process and product.

Emma joined the NHA as a committee member in December 2013. She is the Social Media Manager for the NHA and a member of the editorial team for the research section of the NHA journal, Handwriting Today.

Michelle Van Rooyen BSc Occ Therapy from UCT

Michelle van Rooyen qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1995 (BSc Occ Therapy from UCT) working in a variety of settings  in South Africa and the UK involving  adult physical disability and paediatrics with a specialist interest in handwriting.  Michelle works with children, parents and teachers to maximise a child’s access to education in the school and home environments. 

Her involvement with the NHA started in 2012 and is currently undertaking updating publicity materials and is a member of the sub-committees for publicity and in-service training

Sheila Henderson Dip PE, BA, MA, PhD, Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow, British Psychological Society; Member of the UK Academy of Social Sciences; International Fellow of the American Academy of Kinesiolog

 Sheila is currently an Emeritus Reader at University College Institute of Education. The main focus of her research is on movement difficulties in children. The topics covered range from the motor difficulties of children born prematurely to the psycho-social and educational concomitants of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).  The Movement Assessment Battery for Children (2nd edition), of which she is principal author, has been translated into 16 languages and is one of the most widely used measures of developmental coordination disorders in the world. It has recently been nominated as the test of choice in the European Guidelines for the assessment of children with movement difficulties. Sheila has worked closely with Anna Barnett for many years, most recently one the Detailed Assessment Speed of Handwriting (DASH).  She has also worked with both former and current members of the NHA committee on research projects and on NHA publications.


Sheila was one of the founding members of NHA