People

Meet the team that keeps RAB running.

Adele Barnett-Ward

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Adele started working in Reading’s charitable sector in 2016, after working in the market research and toy industries.

She joined RAB as CEO in 2019.  She lives in Caversham and represents Caversham Ward on Reading Borough Council.

Adele values the strong sense of community and friendship between RAB’s beneficiaries, volunteers and staff. The most rewarding aspect of her role is working with the RAB community to develop and improve services.

Gabrielle Watts

Outreach Manager

Gabrielle (also known as Gabby or Gabs) was named by her father, who was Polish and came to England during WW2.

Her mother was English and Gabrielle experienced much from both cultures both as a child and throughout her life.

She has two children and is a grandmother of three and enjoys gardening, walking, reading, TV, socialising and looking after her two hens.

Gabrielle joined RAB’s outreach team in September 2018. She had spent 25 years working for social services running a Supported Lodgings Scheme for young people preparing to leave care, in various roles including Manager of the Leaving Care Team.

Gabrielle also spent three years working with homeless people. She is a qualified Youth and Community worker, is qualified to teach adults and has also trained as a Life Coach. All this experience has put her in good stead for the work she now undertakes at RAB, which she enjoys very much.

Julia Pattenden

Outreach Worker

Julia lives in West Berkshire and joined Reading Association for the Blind’s outreach team in the summer of 2018.

She began work as a trainee with Mars Ltd and eventually became a PA Administrator and conference organiser working in the telecommunications, car manufacturing and IT industries.

Julia also spent time working in Corfu as a holiday rep for families. Whilst raising her family she worked in her children’s school as a part time teaching assistant, then became an Activities Coordinator in a large residential care home.

It was here that, not only was she able to put her organisational skills to further use, but she found her vocation and love for supporting people. Having always been drawn to work which involved using her organisational and people skills, Julia found this role rewarding and great fun knowing she was making a difference in people’s daily lives.

Julia enjoys working with RAB enormously. Her role has been a natural progression and, once again, has meant that she can provide a caring service to those she supports.

Wendy Whitehead

Outreach Worker

Wendy started her career by training in London to become a qualified florist. Later, she became a clerical officer with London Borough of Sutton. This introduced her to visual impairment, registration and the needs of the visually impaired.

One of her many duties was updating the council’s visual impairment records. Back then they were in two huge, very heavy, metal registers.

Wendy and her husband moved back to Reading and in 1997, once her children had started school, Wendy joined the RAB team as a part-time craft instructor.

She has been with the Association ever since, now working part-time in Outreach in tandem with other work outside RAB. Her children are now adults, both working in the NHS. Wendy values how worthwhile RAB is and enjoys meeting and supporting the members in many and various ways.

That’s why she has been here so long! In her spare time she enjoys native flora and wildlife, walks in the countryside, trips to the theatre and gardening, as well as spending quality time with the family.

Abby Knowles

Operations Manager

Abby KnowlesAbby has lived in Reading since 2006 after moving from the Midlands.

Initially working in financial admin roles for Hammonds Furniture, Trader Media and Rockwell Collins she found a home in volunteering and charitable roles.

She joined RAB in August 2017; initially as the Craft Tutor before taking over Operations in December 2019. She finds making a difference to beneficiaries and volunteers lives extremely rewarding. She loves working directly with people and hopes to make everyone smile at least once a day.

Hannah Padgham

Volunteer Co-ordinator

: A lady with short reddy brown hair and brown eyes. She is smiling and wearing black glassesHannah joined RAB as Volunteer Coordinator in October 2020.

Hannah has over ten years’ experience working in the Voluntary Sector on a local and national level. She has always enjoyed being a volunteer herself, ranging from Scouting to the PTA: having fun, making friends and learning new skills.

Hannah is a busy mum and to escape can often be found walking her black Labrador around the Berkshire countryside.

Her other hobbies include sewing, Netflix and embracing her inner geekiness by listening to the Infinite Monkey Cage and other podcasts.

Hannah loves working at RAB because in her role she gets to know volunteers and see them enjoy their volunteering.

Richard Crawford

Driver

Richard was born and bred in Reading, has been married to Julie for 44 years and they have two sons and four teenage grandchildren.

In 1988 Richard set up a highly successful carpet and upholstery cleaning business which he ran for 30 years before retiring. His eldest son set up his own cleaning business in Torquay after working with Richard, and Richard has also enabled his two nephews to set up businesses in Reading: one taking over Richard’s company and the other in plumbing and heating services.

Richard is an avid Bridge player and plays in the Wessex League for Wallingford Bridge Club. His other interests include walking, sport, ornithology and puzzle-solving.

Richard loves driving (although he hates traffic jams) so when an opportunity arose in 2019 to drive a minibus for RAB he jumped at the chance. Richard takes great pleasure from knowing that in some small way he is helping some of RAB’s less-mobile members to come and enjoy the club and its activities.

Marion Haynes

Community Liaison and Trust Fundraiser

Marion has worked for RAB for over 5 years.  She grew up in Reading, and is pleased to be able to work for a local Charity promoting RAB’s services for people suffering with sight loss in Reading.

Her career has involved working for the local authority social services department, in residential care and nursing homes, in a hospice for specialist palliative care as a Volunteer Co-Ordinator and Fundraiser, and she now enjoys raising funds to help continue and expand the services which are provided by RAB.

Nothing pleases her more than to be able to help continue and expand services to RAB’s members.

Rebecca Van Der Kemp

Office Administrator

Rebecca started working at RAB in September 2019 having previously worked at a Pre-School as the administrator. Prior to maternity leave and having two children, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry exporting medicines around the world and for large car manufacturers working as an administrator. Rebecca has lived in Reading all her life and loves working for a charity that has such a huge impact on people’s lives.