Find out more about the VRA's Trustees

Julie Denning


Dr Julie Denning is a Chartered Health Psychologist with over 17 years’ experience of working in the vocational rehabilitation sector.  She has designed and delivered work focused services to support people with long term conditions including, persistent pain, cancer, chronic fatigue and mental health to return to work when ready.  As Managing Director for Working To Wellbeing she is responsible for the design and delivery of VR services that are multi and interdisciplinary in approach.  She manages and clinically supervises a team of Occupational Health Physiotherapists, Cognitive Behavioral Therapists and Occupational Therapists.  She has experience of providing services within the insurance, occupational health and business to business sectors.

As an ACPOHE tutor and lecturer she trains Physiotherapists to improve their communications skills with their patients by applying a biopsychosocial approach and using the most up-to-date psychological interventions in order to improve clinical outcomes with their patients.  This includes a strong work focus.  Julie also lectures at Kings College London on their BSc Physiotherapy course, MSc Health Psychology and BScI for medical students on topics including, communication skills, work and health, stress management and leadership.

Sue godby

VICE Chair

Sue is an experienced Occupational Therapist working as an Independent practitioner in VR, providing specialist assessments and vocational case management. She works mainly in the income protection sector, working with employers and supporting employees to return to work after illness and injury, either to their own or alternative roles.

She has many years’ experience working in vocational rehabilitation, initially in the NHS supporting people with mental health problems, before moving into the insurance sector where she worked or seven years at Unum.  In 2011 she left to work as an independent practitioner before taking over as Director of Ergocom in 2013.

Sue has held trustee positions previously, including being on the board of Oakleaf Enterprise, Guildford and chair of Surrey Supported Employment, a membership organisation running DWP programmes and supporting providers of return to work services in Surrey.

Andrea Collin


Andrea has been an Occupational Therapist since 2011. Upon graduating from York St John University Andrea started to work in the Welfare to Work sector. Having worked in the Northeast for both Ingeus and then Northern Rights, both of which deliver work related programs on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions, Andrea has supported many of her clients to manage their health conditions and go into or regain employment, and importantly to sustain that employment.

Initially, Andrea worked predominately with clients who had mental health conditions including, anxiety, depression, stress & panic. She delivered one on one support and facilitated group workshops around condition management with a clear aim of returning to the workplace.

Andrea now works as a health advisor and supports her clients with both mental and physical health barriers to returning to the workplace. Ensuring clients have a clear goal and a plan in place to help them make the steps needed to move into the workplace is an important part of Andreas working.

Each year Andrea supports 2 final year Occupational Therapy students on their final work placement within the Vocational Rehabilitation sector at her workplace, Northern Rights. Andrea has also started to guest speak at universities and secondary schools in the region promoting the career of Occupational Therapy and the specialist area of Vocational Rehabilitation.


Monica Garcia 


Monica is a Disability Insurance and Workplace Wellbeing Consultant, bringing a combination of clinical, vocational, research, and insurance experience, to promote and champion best practice in the UK’s Income Protection (IP) market. Through her work with insurers, employers, and third-party providers, Monica leads the development of evidence-based health initiatives to improve customers’ wellness and work outcomes.

Monica also has an active role in industry initiatives, speaking at conferences, panel debates, and with publications, addressing the non-technical aspects of disability insurance risk management, improving access to insurance, and promoting the benefits of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). In her latest publication, she co-authored the Access to Insurance education guide on Income Protection, published by the Chartered Institute of Insurers  (CII), which highlights the role the VRA plays in raising professional standards in the provision of VR, within IP.

Back in 2001, Monica completed her undergraduate and postgraduate education in London, with a specialist research interest related to the role of beliefs and social factors in the recovery process, with a particular focus on work stress and the role of resilience. Monica maintains her interest in mental health issues related to her home country, Bolivia, and has published in the Journal of International Psychiatry. “Mental Health in the Plurinational State of Bolivia” (2011) Vol 8 No 4.


Sharon Patmore


Sharon Patmore is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with over 25 years of experience of supporting people who experience a range of health and disability-related difficulties, including mental health. She is an Associate Fellow of the BPS and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Practicing Occupational Psychologist. She is also a Professional Member of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association.

Sharon has experience of working in the Public, Private and Charitable sectors and has a background in HR, Training and Development that spans over 30 years across a wide range of sectors, providing a strong focus on supporting people to develop and thrive in work.  She has extensive experience in psychometric assessments using these for recruitment and transitioning purposes, including assisting members of HM Armed Forces in their transition to Civvy Street after having been wounded or injured.

Since the start of the pandemic, she has trained over 800 managers in understanding how to better support their teams with their mental health and wellbeing, which enable them to cope better during these uncertain times. She has been able to help others understand the full extent of psychological difficulties experienced by employees, including the implications of transitioning to working at home, returning to the workplace, changes in the structure of employment and the impact of COVID-10 physically, cognitively and psychologically within the work context.



Since moving to the UK in 2000 Joy led Unum´s Vocational Rehabilitation Services, responsible for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services to its clients and their employees throughout the UK. Since leaving Unum Joy has moved into the diversity and inclusion field offering support to employers with health and wellbeing.

Joy trained as a clinical psychologist. She became a Trustee of the VRA in 2005 and was a founding member of the UK Rehabilitation Council. She is also an elected Board member of the Council for Work & Health.

In previous years, Joy has contributed to the VRA through her work as Treasurer, her involvement in improving our membership, and the development of our webinar programme. She was been actively involved in the development of the VRA’s original Standards of Practice and for many years was a member of the Professional Development Committee.

Andy Tyerman


Formerly a consultant clinical neuropsychologist in the NHS for 28 years Andy played a lead role in the development and provision of a pioneering specialist community brain injury rehabilitation service in Buckinghamshire. From the start this included “Working Out”, a specialist brain injury vocational rehabilitation programme set up for those unable to return to previous work after ABI. This became an evidence based example of good practice for Quality Requirement 6 on Vocational Rehabilitation, National Service Framework for Long-term (Neurological) Conditions (Department of Health, 2005).  The programme and Andy went on to win multiple awards including from the NHS (SE Regional Nye Bevan Award 2000; Patient Champion of Year Award, Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Awards 2015/16) and VRA (e.g. Practitioner of the Year Award, 2012; Rehabilitation Initiative of the Year, 2012).

Andy has been involved in the development of various related national standards and guidelines including the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine Working Party on Rehabilitation after Acquired Brain Injury (2002-03); External Reference Group for the National Service Framework for Long Term Conditions (2002-05); Inter-Agency Advisory Group on Vocational Rehabilitation after Brain Injury (2003-04); Department of Health NSF Neurology Advisory Group (2005-08); Guideline Development Group on Vocational Assessment and Rehabilitation for People with Long-term Neurological Conditions (2007-10); NICE Head Injury Quality Standards Advisory Committee (2014).  He is I have extensive ABI related multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teaching experience and around 85 assorted publications, many relating to VR.

Helen Valls-Russell



Helen is an experienced Occupational Therapist and Director of Ergocom, heading up a UK-wide team of multidisciplinary health professionals who provide specialist assessments and vocational case management, supporting insurers, employers, and their employees to achieve successful return to work outcomes after illness and injury.

She has many years of experience working in vocational rehabilitation, in both the public and private sector. In 2021 her training course for new and aspiring Vocational Rehabilitation practitioners won the VR Project Award.




Mandy Whalley


Mandy has over 34 years’ experience working in the NHS and 3 further years working in independent practice specialising in complex and long-term health conditions such as chronic pain, ABI, MS and cancer in the workplace. She is recognised for assessing, coaching and supporting people with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities, facilitating access to and maintaining paid and unpaid employment. Mandy has a developed a special interest in understanding the Equality Act, as well as developing accredited manager training modules to support the provision of reasonable adjustments in the workplace.


Mandy is also an expert by experience, providing consultancy to Local council employment panel, OH, HR and other Local authorities. Founder of Empowerment Passport™ Mandy has completed pilots with the NHS and Health Education England.

Mandy is also a member of Royal College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section for Work as a representative for OT’s in OH. Mandy has contributed to the People toolkit for Business disability forum as well as attending consultation events for the Work and Health unit.

Mandy has delivered training for NHS Disability Summit 2022, Liverpool University undergraduate OT course, and the third sector and is a parent rep for Wirral Mencap.


Beverly Knops Dip COT, MRCOT



Beverly is a Specialist Occupational Therapist with more than thirty years’ experience. She has spent the majority of her career working with people experiencing persistent pain and fatigue. She worked in North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) for twenty-nine years, starting in the rheumatology service, then moving into the Specialist Pain and ME/CFS services. She also spent a period of nine years working one day a week for the Bath Paediatric ME/CFS service, developing her knowledge and expertise in this age group. In 2012, Beverly started work as an associate therapist with Vitality360, a private company working exclusively with people experiencing pain and fatigue. She now leads this specialist team full-time. Beverly is a trustee of the British Association of Clinicians working in ME/CFS (BACME) and is passionate about sharing knowledge and skills with other health professionals.