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About

THE HEADTORCH TEAM

We’re Headtorch – experts in workplace mental health. 

We have a team of specialists in learning & development and psychology, backed up by clinical and legal professionals.

We’re passionate about what we do and deliver creative business focussed solutions, with proven academic and real world results.

When it comes to workplace mental health, we know what works, get in touch and find out how. 

 

Amy McDonald

Founder & CEO

I enjoy learning when I’m being challenged, actively participating, my senses engaged, when it’s fun - that’s when learning and development (L&D) makes a difference.

I combine a drive for respect, justice and equality at work with theatre and L&D. I’ve strengthened these core skills with mediation, neuro-linguistic programming, coaching and the Mental Health First Aid course. For over a decade this expertise allowed me to run my sole-trading business, creating and delivering numerous dramatic learning events on subjects from family business to handling difficult conversations. During this time I established a niche in mental health and well-being.

The consistent success of The Cynthia Show – Mental Health at WORK combined with a clear market need, provided me with the catalyst to move into online learning and launch Headtorch.

Networking has played a significant part in my career. Great learning and incredible support has come from Scottish Women in Business and the Professional Speaking Association.

Other than that you can catch me stretching out at yoga, sweating profusely at crossfit, reaching high on a climbing wall, singing, drawing, laughing, at the theatre or standing on top of a mountain breathing it all in.

Angus Robinson

Chairman of Headtorch

When the world zigs, zag – a mantra to live by. From my first real job in the shipyards to having my own companies, it’s a really interesting ride. From engineering, to business, to the nuclear industry, to the medical industry, my career has always been highly stimulating and has taken me into all sorts of areas in the UK and internationally.

I have a pattern of being attracted by innovative new ideas, and making these a reality in the market place. This has been across many different products and sectors, and in my opinion is about understanding the potential, applying intelligence, and using principles.

When I’m not working, I’m practicing extreme sports like adventure racing, mountain biking and skiing. When I’m not doing that, I’m chilling with my family.

Tom Craig

Director

I founded Craig Corporate in 1985. I am now Chairman of Craig Corporate and sit on the board (as a non-executive or Chairman) of several companies including Houston Bottling and Co-Pack. I was also delighted to have been appointed as the Chairman of the Scottish Golf Union, leading it through to its amalgamation with the LSGA.

During my early career, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Young & Co (now Ernst & Young), after which I joined ICFC (now 3i) as an Investment Controller. I then spent some time in industry before moving into management consultancy with PA.

I golf
I ski
I go to the gym (makes me healthier but I’m never happy in the gym)
I garden that’s good exercise and gives me great satisfaction - that’s the physical side.

I also do puzzles, like chess puzzles, Killer Sudoku, Wordwheels (esp like The Times puzzle section)
I like finding solutions to business problems and opportunities - that’s the brain health side.

I read a bit – usually non-fiction
I listen to music. These help me relax and make me happy

I like visiting interesting places
I like watching interesting TV programmes, like Brian Cox and history - that makes me happy.

I enjoy good food, and good wine and good company - that makes me happy, but probably isn’t very healthy!

Lynda Nicolson

Advisory Board Member

While not quite ‘Mad Men’, my early career in advertising was certainly ‘interesting’. A few years in a huge and busy advertising agency in Manchester allowed me to hone my craft and manage client advertising campaigns for subjects as diverse as shoes, college courses, foster parents and regional economic development. The phrase ‘thrown in at the deep end’ comes to mind but it was a fantastic learning experience. I was tempted home to the fabled Rex Stewart Agency in my beloved Glasgow and here I have stayed.

My career has continued in the marketing, design and advertising industry and I can now add specialist sector knowledge of education, property, construction and technology marketing to my cv. Never a dull moment!

I now have a small agency and recently managed an entrepreneurial learning programme for the University of Glasgow, helping small businesses become more innovative.

Hobbies? I read everything I can get my hands on and enjoy quality tv and film, but my favourite pastime has to be flying to the States, picking up a hire car and seeing where I end up. Heaven.

Dr Linda Craig BSc DClinPsychol

Clinical Director

I’m a Clinical Psychologist by qualification. By day you can find me working with people with mental health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and eating disorders. The resilience, determination and courage of those I work with never ceases to inspire me.

Is this what I set out to do in life? It's hard to say. I remember choosing my undergrad course based on a lecture I attended with a friend! But human behaviour and functioning is fascinating. What drives us and why we do what we do. And now I’m here, using this knowledge to help people improve their lives.

I am delighted to be Clinical Director for Headtorch. Anything that helps spread understanding and compassion for those whose lives are more challenging or who face struggles with their mental health is something I believe in.

To maintain my own mental health I like to get out on the ice rink as much as possible to spin, jump and skate myself to calm or officiate at competitions to give back to the sport that has given so much. I can also be found reading, watching Netflix, doing a bit of Mindfulness or seeing friends and family.

Everything in moderation.

Andrea Woodside

Associate

I’ve worked in the organisational wellbeing field for nearly 25 years, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of the changes in approach that have occurred since. The area of mental health has really developed, particularly over the last few years, and it’s a joy to see that so many people are now speaking freely of their own experiences. Even one voice can make a huge difference.

I support employers to develop sustainable ways in which to encourage their people to stay well throughout their careers. Spotting the very early warning signs of emotional distress in ourselves and others is key to accessing the right help at the right time, and assisting managers to build their confidence around how and when to approach someone in need of support is really rewarding. The ultimate goal of my work is to help people to maintain and nurture their mental health, my philosophy being that recovery from emotional distress of any kind is always possible when people have the right tools.

My work extends across both public and private sector organisations, including banking, FMCG, retail, professional services, the NHS, and local and national government. I gained my BA in Psychology in 1993, went on to complete a BSc in Social Policy in 2011, and am currently working towards an MSc in Organisational Psychology.

A Trustee of Mind England and Wales for seven years, I am also a member of British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Workplace, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, and the Institute of Directors. I also regularly contribute to the media around workplace wellbeing and recovery from mental health problems.

I practice what I preach and look after my own wellbeing by knowing when to step back and relax, running (a new passion of mine), meditating and catching up with friends.

Stephen McAllister

Special Advisor

I am a former Police Officer and retired as a Divisional Commander after a 30 year career during which I held a variety of Uniform and Specialist roles. I was a Hostage and Crisis Negotiator for 16 years and part of the United Kingdom's International Negotiating Cadre for 8 of those years, I have significant experience in the training, coaching and mentoring of Police Negotiators and crisis management. Have a BA (Hons) in Psychology, a Masters in Forensic and Legal Psychology and a Certificate in Counselling skills.

I am a trained and experienced mediator with an NVQ in the delivery of adult learning. I am also trained in Trauma Incident Management and a graduate member of the British Psychological Society.

My exposure to and responsibility for managing a wide variety of crisis encouraged me to consider ways I could look after my own mental health as well that of colleagues. As a senior Police Officer with responsibility for absence management it became apparent that a significant proportion of such absence was related to mental health. Consequently I ran a successful mental health awareness pilot with colleagues and staff in conjunction with Headtorch. This inspired me to develop a second career in the field of mental health especially in supporting senior managers to look after both their own and their staff's mental health.

I have practiced yoga and meditation regularly for over 20 years. I enjoy going to the gym and strumming the nine 9 guitar chords that I know in no particular order! I play golf, love watching football, completing jigsaw puzzles and enjoy the company of good friends over a glass of wine.

Geoff McDonald

Special Advisor

Previously the Global Vice President Human Resources, Talent, Marketing, Communications, Sustainability & Water, I recently left Unilever after 25 years in a global career. After starting work as a teacher, my career has spanned leadership, capability and talent development, organisation change, acquisitions and business transformation. I have led ground-breaking work in HR, transforming Unilever’s business model to embed PURPOSE at its core, driving growth and profitability.
I am a Senior Advisor to the Global PR firm Buson-Marsteller and its Purpose Practice. I provide consultation to organisations in the area of mental health.
My vision is to “see purposeful companies with purposeful individuals commonplace one day” for the overall benefit of society. I speak and consult at events and to organisations around the world, including Australasia; Europe; North America; and South Africa. Speaking topics include: “The Bipolar world of business – profit and purpose”; “Mental Wellbeing – a competitive advantage” with the aim of inspiring and provoking organisations to put purpose and wellbeing at the centre of everything they do.
I am an active campaigner for breaking the stigma associated with mental health in the corporate world. I have participated in a number of BBC programmes and written articles for the Huffington Post, FT and HR related journals. I am a trustee of the Charity Family Links; the Global Campaign, It’s a Penalty - combatting the exploitation of young children around the world; and an advisor to a Global Mental Health Campaign.
I previously convened a meeting with David Cameron and CEOs from FTSE 100 Companies to address their role and agree actions to break stigma in the corporate world and I have provided some support to the Royal Foundation (Prince William, Harry and Kate) in their mental health campaign.
I am married with two girls. I love the outdoors, am a passionate cyclist and swimmer and have completed a number of ultra cycling events both on and off road.

Barry McEwan QPM

Associate

Having spent 4 years in the retail sector and 30 years serving the communities of Scotland as a police officer, I have had the pleasure of working with great people organisationally, in partnership and from our communities and if I learned one thing it is that people are the backbone of every successful organisation.

I have been fortunate to have had a great job and varied career in a number of challenging uniform and specialist roles in the police, I spent my last seven years as a senior leader and retired as a Chief Superintendent in 2017. During this time I observed significant organisational change as we became Police Scotland. I had the personal responsibility of leading change in key areas including: the Stop and Search Improvement programme; the national roll out of the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland; and merging a number of areas to improve our prevention approach within the organisation.

These were often challenging times but the one consistent element was the appetite of all staff to work hard, be professional and deliver success under pressure. My role as a senior leader was to lead and support individuals and teams to achieve this.

It is vital that we recognise the pressure often placed on individuals and teams as we strive for organisational success. It is essential that we recognise our organisational and personal responsibility to create a positive working environment that places well-being at the top of the agenda. I was delighted to see the focus on well-being being raised before I retired and the Headtorch progamme being used to raise awareness of the mental health of our staff.

I am now enjoying my time with my wife and 3 children. I enjoy socialising with family and friends, watching football, going on holiday and then doing my best to try and keep myself well and fit with some fitness classes. I am now looking forward to the next stage of working with great people and hope to use my experience and knowledge to help others improve their working environment.

Randal Charlton

Board Member

I have a long and varied career in journalism and business. I’ve been involved in numerous early stage companies, mostly focused on health care and agriculture and have been the CEO of two public companies.

In 2007 I spent five years as Executive Director of Techtown, the business incubator of Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan USA. I am currently a director of Everist Health, a health care company and also on the Board of the Luella Hannan Foundation, an organization that supports older adults in Detroit.

Although I don’t like to tell people, I’ve won a number of awards: in 2011 I won a national Purpose Prize given to older adults in the USA who demonstrate a contribution to society; in 2007 I won the National Heimlich award for contributions to medical research; I’ve also been recognized as an Entrepreneur of the Year and won two national prizes for technical journalism.

I gave a TED talk in which I discussed the increasingly important role of confidence to an aging business person and given numerous talks about the important contribution that older adults can make to economic growth.

In my spare time I write and keep very active.

Carrie Birmingham

HR Advisor

I partner with organisations to help make positive things happen. Because I am passionate about cultures where people can do their best work, and I have seen how this benefits everyone.

I am an experienced HR Director, facilitator and coach who works in the corporate, public and charity sector. My clients describe me as passionate, honest, and insightful.

In my work, I draw on my previous role as HR Director for a News UK, where I led the HR team for the newspapers and the Commercial function. This meant being accountable for the daily operational people issues, mid term workforce planning and shaping the longer term culture, design, and skills of teams. As part of the Leadership team, in Manufacturing & Commercial, I led the People work for two large scale transformation programmes.

I have a Masters in organisation and people change, am a qualified coach, facilitator & gestalt practitioner, able to use diagnostic tools, an NLP business practitioner and CIPD registered.

I am the mother of two dogs, an avid cook, who loves camping. As I run my own business , keeping my self healthy and well is crucial. To support this, my must do list is
(a) to be outside regularly : dog walks and camping
(b) to switch off my mind and stretch : so I am a huge yoga fan
(c) to give myself a yearly physical challenge : which is a 10km open water swim this year

Alison Smith

Associate

I love enabling people to move forward when they're stuck and helping them to help themselves feel better about their lives. For many the keys to doing this are self-belief, confidence and well-being which is why I am excited to be working with Headtorch.

I left university, and for the next 30 years lived and breathed procurement. During that time, I moved over from technical procurement into developing procurement’s behavioural skills including self-awareness, confidence and communication.

Over recent years my coaching and training have expanded into well-being and mental health, and align with what I often speak about with my fellow procurement colleagues “bringing our humanity into work with us, not leaving it at the door”. Humanity both in how we treat ourselves and also others - particularly our suppliers. Which means I often invite procurement to consider how their actions impact the mental health of their suppliers – “Can your suppliers say no?” being one such enquiry.

In 2000 I started to use landscapes as metaphors for our lives whilst coaching, and went on to write a book using nature as our coach. Since publishing that book in 2018 my work has expanded beyond procurement professionals. The book, 'Can’t see the wood for the trees', was described by one reader as ‘first aid kit for the mind’. That is, its use of nature as a metaphor for her situation allowed her to find a previously unseen solution when she was feeling anxious.

During the lockdown I’ve rediscovered gardening and have been reminded how much it enables me to be in the moment. Another activity that I adore and that keeps me mentally fit is open water swimming (yes here in Scotland) and my ideal swim is at sunrise with frost on the sand and a sparkle on the sea.

Kathleen Harkins

Associate

I worked in the field of Learning and Development for about 20 years before I took the plunge to leave corporate world and set up my own consultancy. I developed people strategies with management teams; designed and delivered training and facilitated a wide range of workshops as well as 1:1 coaching which is the area I am focusing on most in my new venture. Ultimately I want to help people understand themselves better so they can find ways to live their best life. I’ve seen the impact of poor mental health in the workplace and the impact this can have on individuals, their families, and their workplace and feel there is so much more that we can do to improve this. Working as an associate with Headtorch in this area is therefore a dream come true!

I’ve always had a focus on my own personal development and have trained in NLP, (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Hypnotherapy, and Reiki as part of my journey to sustain my own health. I recently completed the Certificate in Counselling Skills through COSCA (Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland) as well as the Mental Health First Aid Supervisor to help build my knowledge and I love to use my own experience, skills and knowledge to help others. I’m now working towards my Coaching Diploma with a view to becoming accredited with the ICF (International Coaching Federation).

Discovering meditation about 20 years ago helped me gain insight to managing my busy mind and regularly practising mindfulness meditation definitely keeps me balanced, especially if the sun is out and I can sit in my garden to meditate!

Jane Wheeler

Special Advisor - Employment Law

I’m an employment lawyer who advises both employers and employees on tricky issues within the workplace. One area on which I advise regularly is mental health: helping employers to understand their legal obligations towards employees who have mental health difficulties, and helping employees who are experiencing mental health difficulties to get a positive outcome. That could be by remaining in employment, with adjustments, or by moving on to a new role with a new employer where that is the best outcome. So in advising both employers and employees, I see things from a rounded perspective.
I’m very pleased to be working with Headtorch and taking a proactive approach to dealing with mental health matters. Quite often as an employment lawyer, I am called in when things have gone wrong and have got to the point where they cannot be resolved. So to be asked to be involved at an earlier stage is refreshing!
Outside work, key to maintaining my positive mental wellbeing is running – anywhere from 10k to marathon distance.

Jackie Vaz Dip PFS

Financial Well-being Specialist

I’ve been helping individuals with their financial wellbeing since 1997 and qualified as an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) in 2002. As a pensions and investment consultant, my goal is to enable people to feel in control and confident about their finances, by helping them to understand what money they have now, what the need moving forward (particularly in retirement), and how they can achieve this from cash, investments and pensions.

In the workplace I help organisations with their Governance which is all about getting the best member outcomes from the pensions and benefit schemes. I do this with communication strategies, and providing 1-2-1 meetings, as well as delivering talks and seminars. My speaking engagements include webinars and seminars on financial wellbeing, as well as talks on pensions and retirement options. As these engage with people across differing seniority and financial comfort, I’m always conscious of presenting information clearly and interactively in an engaging way; adjusting sessions to the knowledge and ability levels of those I am with.

When I’m not working, I love to be outside as much as possible. I’m also a keen gardener and enjoy botanical painting with watercolours. I’m grateful to have a strong support network of friends and family and I have a dog, Leena, who probably has the biggest influence on my mental health - she makes me laugh with daft things she gets up to, makes me go out for a walk every day and also reminds me when it's time for relaxation on the sofa!

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