Janet Chierchia MBE, Treasurer
Kevin Stevens, Chair
Patron: Lady Portal (Louisa) MBE, DL
More about us
Kevin Stevens, Chairman
In 1994 my son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two. As the paediatrician delivered her verdict I recall the sheer hopelessness of the situation. No real explanation of the condition, no signposting towards help and understanding and definitely no practical support. On returning home my only thought was to phone directory enquiries to search for a national organisation with a specialism in autism.
Luckily this was the first time in my life where I had to reach out to a charity for help myself and as you would expect they responded brilliantly.
Many of the trustees within Winchester Go LD have experienced similar situations as they grapple with the issues facing their children as they progress towards adulthood with a learning disability.
I first became aware of Winchester Go LD (formerly Winchester & District Mencap) when my son was recommended to attend the low level circuits session that is run on Saturday afternoons. I was immediately struck by the friendliness of the group and the sheer fun with which all of the activities were delivered. I soon realised the huge levels of knowledge and experience that existed within the individuals running the charity and they became an important source of support as my son moved from college to day services. This support was invaluable at such an important part of his development.
The barriers and obstacles my son has had to overcome throughout his life are similar to many others who struggle with learning difficulties and it is for this reason that I wanted to join a group of likeminded individuals who want to make the lives of people struggling with LD so much better. As a charity, Winchester Go LD offer our members various levels of support depending on individual needs. Our aims and goals are very ambitious and we want to build on all the good work our staff, our volunteers, our fund raisers and our trustees have put in place over the years.
I grew up near Petersfield and have lived in Winchester since 2009. My older sister, Jane, was diagnosed with Aspergers quite recently and as a family we have received a huge amount of support here in Winchester, particularly through GoLD. Jane now lives independently (with support) in her own flat and is busy with voluntary work, social activities and spending time with her friends. As a family we are so proud with her achievements and comforted by the support and guidance we’re received on this journey. I qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 2001 and currently balance small animal vet work in the Winchester area with overseas veterinary volunteering programmes (student surgical training and anti rabies campaigns).
Janet Chierchia MBE, Treasurer
Lady Portal (Louisa) MBE, DL
Louisa was High Sheriff of Hampshire (2015/16) – the role combined traditional values and their practical application in a modern world. With the judiciary at the centre of the role, Louisa aims to encourage individuals and organisations involved with the law and with those who break its boundaries. She attends law courts to meet judges, magistrates and support staff, she meets regularly with the Chief Constable and the Police & Crime Commissioner to support the work of the police, as well as gaining insights into police work in practice. She visits prison and with Probation and other bodies concerned with supporting vulnerable adults.
Louisa’s long association with the Scout Movement has led her to focus also on organisations which motivate young people towards responsible citizenship and those that aim to keep people out of the criminal justice system.
Prior to taking office as High Sheriff, Louisa worked in the music industry, as a manager of classical singers and more recently working as the music librarian for a professional chamber orchestra. She is still the Director of the Hampshire National Singing Competition. Louisa became involved with Winchester GoLD after attending events and engaging with the members at Funky lunches. She was struck by the dedication and sheer hard work of the staff together with the enthusiasm of the wonderful members. Louisa gave the keynote speech at the hugely successful, Changing Perspectives Art Exhibition, a fundraising event held in March 2015.
Louisa is a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire and was awarded an MBE in 2014.