Meet the team of dedicated committee members and volunteers who keep Scottish Stammering Network thriving

James Stewart

Trustee and Chairperson

I am one of the founders of the charity and I’ve been the chairperson since it was set up. I’ve had a stammer for as long as I can remember. Until my early 20s, it used to define how I viewed the world. Things changed in 2007 when I went back to speech therapy and attended a support group run by John Mann in Glasgow. I gained a different outlook on life. From this, I now enjoy things like public speaking and have a job that requires lots of different types of communication. I still stammer but it no longer has a negative effect on my life.

I’m really proud of everything the Scottish Stammering Network has achieved, which is a testament to the dedication of everyone involved. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our charity.

John Mann

Trustee and Vice-Chairperson

I am married to Cora and live in Glasgow. My occupation is as a Project Manager with a Housing Association.

I have stammered from the age of 7. In this time, I have attended numerous speech therapy courses and have had long-term involvement in stammering charities and self-help groups. In particular, I helped set up and run the Safety in Stumblers self-help group for those who stammer. This lasted for 10 years. I was also the Convenor of the Scottish Branch of the British Stammering Association. All of this has helped to improve my confidence and has taught me that stammering is only a small part of us. We are capable of doing anything we set our minds to. It was great to be involved when the Scottish Stammering Network was established and long may it continue to provide essential services and support to people who stammer.

Cheryl King

Trustee and Organiser

I found the Scottish Stammering Network purely by chance in late 2017 – the year I turned 40 – and I am so glad I did! In April 2018 I had plucked up enough courage to attend the Edinburgh Open Day. That day was the day that I finally accepted my stammer and my life changed for the better! Probably for the first time ever I was in a room with other people who spoke a bit like me. It was so liberating, and I no longer felt so alone or isolated. On the train back to Fife I had a huge smile on my face. Without a doubt, a tremendous weight had suddenly lifted from my shoulders.

Not long after the open day – still on an absolute high – I contacted James, our chairperson, about starting a Fife support group. In August 2018 I hosted my first meeting in Kirkcaldy.

Megan Hart

Trustee and Treasurer

I am a paediatric Speech and Language Therapist working in the NHS and a committee member of the Scottish Dysfluency Clinical Excellence Network. I became involved with the Scottish Stammering Network in 2014 when I was a student, as stammering is a clinical area I find very interesting. Over the last few years, I have been proud to be a trustee of the charity and take on my current role as Treasurer. Attending support groups and open days organised by the Scottish Stammering Network has given me the opportunity to hear the personal experiences of people who stammer. This has enhanced my clinical practice when working with children and young people.

The SSN has been expanding its work by offering an online support group for parents of children who stammer, which I am involved in alongside Fiona and Mhairi. I am also part of the organising team for the annual ‘Walk n Talk’ weekends. Being involved in all of this is topped off by having the privilege to work alongside a great group of people who are inspiring and motivated to change the way people view stammering.

Mhairi MacDonald

Trustee and Secretary

My involvement with the Scottish Stammering Network began in 2012 whilst I was studying for my degree in Speech and Language Pathology. The privilege of having been wholeheartedly welcomed into the support group continually fuels my drive to deeply understand the diverse experiences of children and adults who stammer. As a speech and language therapist, I worked with clients who sought education and guidance regarding their dysfluency and proudly directed them to SSN resources and its empathic family fold.

Having retrained as a primary school teacher, my broadening insight into the challenges faced by SSN support group attendees enables my provision of adaptive and informed support to young learners who stammer. In my role as secretary for the SSN, I document committee meeting discussions and work within the board of trustees to ensure that organised events are stimulating, inspiring, and smoothly-run.

Lynne Mackie

Trustee and External Engagement Co-ordinator

I have been on the Scottish Stammering Network committee since 2015, where I have taken on various roles. In 2015, I helped to launch the Edinburgh support group and was one of the co-chairs until I had to relocate for work in 2017. I was also Vice-Chair of the SSN from 2015 to 2018. During my time with the SSN, I have helped to run Open Days, delivered workshops, and even led a Scottish delegation for a European youth camp for people who stutter which took place in Italy in 2018.

Alongside my work with the SSN, I am also currently a Trustee for Stamma (the British Stammering Association.) I helped to organise their last conference in Cardiff in 2018. I am also involved with the world-wide stuttering support network Stamily, and run my own YouTube page about stammering called StammerOn.

John McIntosh

Trustee

I’m John McIntosh and I’ve been involved in the SSN for about 4 years. You might have seen me on one of our ‘Hear the Person’ videos talking about my dad’s funeral. I’m 60 and retired in 2019 after 25 years teaching English. I’ve stammered my whole life and have tried several remedies and approaches to make it better. Speech therapy as a kid and an adult, hypnotism, self-help books etc.

But the thing that gave me the most sense of control over my speech was getting involved with the McGuire Programme in 2004. It was and is hard work, but I was at such a low point that I was willing to do whatever it took to find a way forward. My stammer will always be with me, but I think we’ve learned to get along together a lot better now.

Alasdair Coupar

Young Person Ambassador

I’m Alasdair Coupar, a 3rd year history student at Glasgow university. I’ve had a stammer since the age of 5.

I joined the SSN in 2018 and since then have been the Young Person’s ambassador. With this, I want to represent all young people who stammer both at school and university. As well as work with the parents and families of these young people. I am currently raising awareness for stammering by visiting schools and working on a stammering campaign to present at the Scottish parliament. In 2019 I represented the SSN in London at an event run by STUC (Stammering Through University Consultancy) where I gave a speech and promoted the network. I have also appeared on the “Oh and on that note” podcast which features people who stammer, Speech and Language Therapists and guests as they talk about anything and everything.

In my free time, I enjoy hillwalking, rugby and watching musicals.

Fiona Jack

Trustee and Edinburgh Support Group Co-Chair

I’m a speech and language therapist. My interest in working with people who stammer grew from running groups for children who stammer with a colleague, whose father had had a severe stammer. I sought out extra training in different approaches and also completed the year-long European Clinical Specialisation in Fluency Disorders course in 2012. This involved developing a portfolio of study and practice. As well as time spent at the Michael Palin Centre and learning from therapists across Europe. Additionally, I sought out therapists when I was in America, meeting Peter Ramig at University in Boulder and visiting Patty Walton’s practice in Denver.

I am passionate about developing training among Speech and Language Therapists, hosting groups of therapists across Lothian to share learning and nationally with other therapists across Scotland. Personally, I am excited about the direction of travel for linking therapy, support and self-management for people who stammer to enable confident communication for all.

Bill Nicol

Trustee and Co-Chair of Edinburgh Support Group

With over 55 years of stammering experience. My speech has resulted in a roller-coaster over the years. After a long hiatus, I started to look at ways of addressing my stammer. I have found self-help groups and a holistic approach very helpful.

Will you?

Tim Niven

Trustee

I am Tim and have dealt with a stutter as long as I can remember.

I work at university and the NHS. At school, I was covert and went to great lengths to try and conceal it. This made school not a whole lot of fun. I have tried traditional language and speech interventions. While these helped for a short period, they did not last the test of time or under pressure. I use a breathing and speaking technique to manage the stutter but still have many reminders! Speaking now is often fun including telephone calls, Zoom sessions and face to face interviews.

I have experienced prejudice and discrimination in relation to the stutter and actively raise awareness and challenge perceptions on it. I have been a trustee of the SSN for a number of years and fundraise for the charity.