Staff, Volunteers & Trustees


Staff Members

Service Co-ordinator

Nicola Hough is the Service Co-ordinator for ACCT and leads Acctivate Children’s Club. Nicola also organises ACCT’s family days out and is one of our main fundraisers.  She has two daughters, one on the autistic spectrum. Nicola also works at a local nursery school supporting pre-school children with additional needs and was the SENCo at a local playgroup.  She has supported the needs of several children on the autistic spectrum and is particularly interested in early intervention and believes this is key to a child’s progress and future development.  Nicola feels very lucky to work within a setting that embraces disability and has learned how to implement many different strategies. She has an NVQ level 3 in Early Years and has received training in Early Years, First Aid, ASCs, Behaviour Management, Makaton, Jabadao and PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Nicola is the Safeguarding Lead for ACCT.

Nicola has previously been a trustee of ACCT and undertook the roles of Secretary and Co-Chair.

Deputy Co- ordinator

Jordanna Farrimond originally started working for ACCT in April 2013 as an artworker. In March 2014 Jordanna took on the additional role of Deputy Project Co-ordinator for ACCT. In previous years Jordanna worked as a primary school teacher and has a Primary PGCE with Qualified Teacher Status. During that time Jordanna took a special interest in working with children with additional needs and the benefits of creativity on wellbeing. Jordanna enjoys supporting ACCT’s work and in particular co-ordinating ACCT’s valuable volunteers. When not working at ACCT Jordanna runs a business called Artists in the Making which runs art and photography workshops for children and adults with a special emphasis on well-being. She also pursues her own creativity and love for the outdoors.

Teenager Club Leader

Alex Hithersay leads the weekly Teenager club and is a Play-worker at the Saturday children’s club (Acctivate) and an experienced member of staff. Alex has been with ACCT for five years, has a wealth of experience working within the club and has a great understanding of ASD. Alex is team teach trained and is trained in safeguarding, management, first aid, PDA, ASD and behaviour management. He is also a Climbing Coach/Instructor for The Climbing Works in Sheffield, and has worked as PA for teenagers and children with ASD and PDA for several years. He is qualified with an BTEC level 3 In IT practitioners and looks after the IT equipment used at ACCT. He has run summer workshop in media/music/animation as well as climbing clubs for the teenagers and children.

Funding and Strategy Coordinator

Peter Friend is the new Funding and Strategy Co­ordinator for ACCT since March 2016. Peter has worked in the voluntary sector in England and Scotland for the past 35 years with a number of large and smaller charities. Peter is a qualified General Manager and has held a variety of senior management and service operations positions during this time. When not working with ACCT Peter is a keen gardener and allotment holder, as well as enjoying hill walking and anything else involving being outside.

Chair of ACCT

Professor Sylvia Johnson retired from her post of Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Development and Society at Sheffield Hallam University in 2012.  Since then she has immersed herself in championing and working in the field of autism. Sylvia has an adult son who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and Dyspraxia aged 11 and who went on to complete a mathematics degree in 2010. He has recently moved to live independently.

Sylvia is also a trustee for the National Autistic Society and chairs their Service Quality and Development Committee. Locally she has been a trustee for Autism Plus, is a member of the management committee for SAPAG ( Sheffield Aspergers’ Parents Action Group), which supports parents of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and coordinates the A Team, a social group for the adults themselves. Currently she is also chairing a workstream for Sheffield City Council on Employment as part of their Autism Partnership.

Originally a mathematician, she had an early career as a mathematics teacher, and a researcher on a national mathematics project before moving into higher education. Over the years she has participated in numerous regional and national educational and research projects and has served and led a wide range of committees and working groups. She continues to maintain some links with Sheffield Hallam University and supports their Aspire Mentoring Programme.


Helen Gilder qualified as a chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in 1991 and has a broad range of finance experience from working initially within a firm of accountants and more recently in the wider industry. For the past 16 years she has been employed as Group Finance Director at ZOO Digital Group plc, which is a technology and service business listed on AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s international market for smaller growing companies. In this role Helen has responsibility for all financial aspects of the business and also acts as Company Secretary.

She has two sons who are diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD and has found thesupport offered by ACCT invaluable. She volunteered as treasurer for ACCT in March 2016.

Trustees and Management Committee

Dr Val Harpin has recently retired as a Consultant Neurodevelopmental Paediatrician at the Ryegate Children’s Centre, part of the Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, where she practiced for 20 years.  Prior to joining the Ryegate Centre, Dr Harpin held the post of Consultant Community Paediatrician at the Child Development Centre in Oxford.  Her special interests include the care of children and young people with special needs and neurodisabilities, particularly Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and learning disabilities. Dr Harpin’s main research interests are in ADHD and Transition to Adult services . She is author of several associated research papers and a National and International speaker. She is also Chair of the Steering Group leading the Sheffield Distance Learning Course in Paediatric Neurodisability, an MSc for doctors who wish to specialise in working with Disabled children and young people and their families.  Dr Harpin has chaired  the Royal College of Paediatrics Specialty Group for Paediatric Neurodisability  (BACD) and been a member of the  BACD Strategic Research Group.

Deborah Young has been a management committee member since 2008 and coordinates the Parents Evenings. Deborah has two children, both with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Prior to starting her family she worked as a Registered General Nurse for 10 years and specialized in caring for patients with cancer and in Palliative Care, working in a hospice for 2 years.

Tracy Woolhouse has been a volunteer and committee member since 2011 and has two young children on the autistic spectrum.  She is a full time carer for her children but previously was a visual merchandising manager for a fashion retailer.  She is active with other disability groups locally and throughout the UK.  Tracy has a keen interest in social networking and helping parents and carers to connect with each other and as such is ACCT’s main Coordinator of news and information.  She set up ‘ACCT Chat’, an innovative Facebook page currently with a membership of 99 members.  This is a place where parents can talk to each other in a relatively secure setting about the unique challenges they face whilst supporting each other and sharing information.  Tracy also maintains our webpage and is our lead fundraiser leading a team of parents to raise essential funds for ACCT.  Her family are active members and benefit from the support and guidance ACCT and its members provide

Honorary Management Committee

Dr Nevyne Chalhoub has worked as a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Sheffield since 1998 and has the position of Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Sheffield Children’s Foundation Trust. She is also the Clinical Director of CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).

Playworkers and Volunteers_DSC4217 (3)

Acct is lucky enough to have a number of highly trained playworkers at our sessions and volunteers supporting them. Our volunteers do a very valuable service supporting both our children and families and we feel very grateful that they give their time to ACCT.