A mixture of staff and volunteers all dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of autistic individuals and their families.
Chief Executive Officer
The Founder and Chief Executive of Dogs for Autism, Hilary Armour, is a qualified dog trainer, animal behaviourist and teacher. Throughout her teaching career Hilary has specialised in teaching autistic students with additional learning disabilities.
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Recognising the benefits for an autistic young person of being partnered with a dog, but being unable to access an assistance dog through any of the existing charities, she used her dog trainer experience to ‘owner-train’ her son’s first dog.
Once out and about with their dog, she was frequently approached by other parents in need who were desperate to know where she had managed to find an autism assistance dog.
Becoming aware of the sheer number of isolated families whose lives could be changed with the support of a dog, Hilary decided to act.
Hilary’s vision is that Dogs for Autism will become for the autistic community what Guide dogs for the Blind is to the visually impaired.
As CEO, Hilary is the face of Dogs for Autism and is responsible for overseeing the charity and steering its growth. She supervises the development of the charity infrastructure and its financial management.
Despite her very busy role as CEO, Hilary is still very hands on in the work of the charity, training dogs from the charity headquarters and supporting families and staff.
Jan is a qualified primary school teacher, former veterinary practice manager and dog trainer, with a Diploma in Animal Assisted Therapy.
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Jan works very closely with Hilary planning, organising and supervising the provision of services within the charity. She is the safeguarding lead for DfA, as well as being responsible for writing grant and trust applications.
Jan also liaises with families pre, during and post application, and advises on breeding schemes, whelping and puppy husbandry. She is currently training one of our DfA dogs, Luna, and enjoys working with Luna’s autistic partner and her family.
Jan is particularly interested in the interaction between humans and dogs, and how this can benefit an autistic person, their family and the wider community, at the same time as fulfilling the dog’s need for human companionship and mental stimulation.
Jan’s role in Dogs for Autism combines her skills in dog handling with her background in management, education and young people, improving outcomes for both the people and the dogs she has the pleasure of connecting with.
Philippa is a dog trainer with 26 years’ experience – both with pet dogs and in the assistance dog field, having worked with Canine Partners, Hearing Dogs for Deaf people, and Medical Detection dogs prior to joining Dogs for Autism.
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In a culture that makes few allowances for people with different needs, involvement in the assistance dog world has been a natural progression for Philippa, who has seen and experienced for herself how much an assistance dog can enhance and equip people for life.
Her daughter and her husband are both on the autism spectrum, as are many of her clients, and this gives her great insight into how dogs can help autistic people in particular, and a natural empathy for neurodiversity.
Marketing and Communications
Chloe is passionate about using her skills to help people thrive and is now using her 25 years of experience in marketing and communications with large corporate organisations to help Dogs for Autism grow.
BA (Hons) FPFS Is founder and director of Craven – Slater Financial Planners.
A chartered Financial Planner, David is also a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society.
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Doug has thirty years of experience in handling accounts for charities and commercial businesses.
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Autism Liaison Lead
Hannah started working with children and adults with learning disabilities at the age of 16. Qualified in Health and Social Care, she has also completed the Understanding Autism Awareness courses. With seven years of hands-on experience as a carer supporting people with autism and life limiting conditions, Hannah is a valuable member of the DfA Team.
Nick has been working as an Admin Assistant since the summer of 2020, and works hard behind the scenes. A keen fan of sport, Nick follows both football and NFL and enjoys reading and watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Gemma has over twenty years within the animal industry as a dog groomer, veterinary nurse and receptionist, animal behaviour counsellor, dog trainer, puppy class instructor, pet sitter and dog walker. She is especially experienced within the assistance dog sector, having worked for 15 years at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in various dog operational roles, including dog trainer, puppy socialising instructor and dog assessment officer.
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In addition to Gemma’s dog related background, she has experience and knowledge in Autism, having worked as a Learning Support Assistant for children with Autism diagnoses and, with a close family member recently diagnosed with ASD, she is a passionate advocate for the difference Dogs for Autism assistance dogs can make in the lives of their partners.
Dog Welfare Assistant
Nikki looks after the welfare of all the dogs at HQ, both incumbent and visiting trainees. Her role includes all elements of their daily and long-term welfare needs. Nikki is an apprentice DfA Assistance Dog Trainer.
Brand Design Director
Ella has over 20 years design experience; working as a senior designer on a large range of brands from large finance companies to small charities and schools. Ella is responsible for the Dogs for Autism re-brand and truly understands our requirements, producing engaging and stand out designs that deliver our message clearly.