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Committee Biographies

Mellissa Prunty - Chair 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 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 runs a handwriting research clinic at Brunel University London. 

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.

Wendy Cumines - Vice Chair Dip COT, MA SEN

Wendy Cumines is the Welsh representative of the National Handwriting Association. She has over 30 years experience as an Occupational Therapist working with children and young people with ALN. She currently works as a Lecturer at Cardiff University and also undertakes independent work for Local Authorities and Independent schools.


Emma Sumner - Vice Chair 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.

Hilary Cook - Hon. Secretary 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.