Meet The Team

Facial Palsy UK’s day-to-day operations are carried out by a very small team whose details are below. Our work is aided by a wider team of many wonderful volunteers, we simply couldn’t do the work we do without our volunteers.

Becky Black (Chair of Trustees) – Volunteer

Becky took over as Chair of Trustees in February 2019. Becky is responsible for the overall strategy and direction of the charity alongside the Trustee Board and wider community.

Charles Nduka (Founder and Trustee) – Volunteer

Charles NdukaCharles founded Facial Palsy UK with Trustee Vanessa Venables in 2012. When working as a consultant and plastic reconstructive surgeon at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, Charles realised that many of his facial palsy patients had historically received little or no support. Some people had become reclusive and many had struggled to access services and treatments that could greatly improve their quality of life. Charles is the Acting CEO of the charity and Chair of the Medical Advisory Boards.

Vanessa Venables (Co-founder and Trustee) – Volunteer

Vanessa VenablesVanessa, a Principal Speech and Language Therapist with a special interest in facial palsy, set up Facial Palsy UK with Charles Nduka in 2012. Vanessa launched the first Facial Palsy Support Group in East Grinstead in 2010 prior to the charity’s official launch. This group became a model for all of our other local support groups and Vanessa still oversees the Support function within the charity as well as fulfilling her Trustee role.

See the full Trustee Board here.

Karen Johnson (Deputy CEO) – Full-time employee

Karen JohnsonKaren was a volunteer for the charity before its inception in 2012 and became the first employee in February 2013. Since 2005, Karen has been offering informal support to people with facial palsy across the world via her own personal website and social media. Born with facial palsy due to birth trauma she has personal experience of the impact of the condition. Karen has all-round business knowledge with a background in search engine optimisation and purchasing. She is responsible for all the day-to-day operations of the charity.

Lorraine Thurston (Support and Information Coordinator) – Part-time employee

Lorraine joined Facial Palsy UK in September 2015, she coordinates our local support groups and answers support enquiries received by the charity. Lorraine has spent most of her working life in the NHS and charities. As a therapeutic radiographer she has previous experience of treating patients with facial palsy. Lorraine is also an experienced counsellor and volunteers in her spare time at a local hospice.

Mandy Brailsford – Community Fundraising Volunteer

Mandy has volunteered for Facial Palsy UK since it began in 2012 helping at various events including Family Days and giving input on website content and charity direction. Born with facial palsy Mandy has personal experience of the condition. Mandy is now coordinating community fundraising for the charity and working with the Trustee Board and office team to improve our fundraising strategy and deliver better support to our community fundraisers. Mandy is doing this alongside a full-time job.


We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers. Read our Personal Stories to find out about some of the people who volunteer for Facial Palsy UK. Find more information about volunteering here.

Last reviewed: 28-02-2019    ||    Next review due: 01-08-2019