Who we are
Sam Thomas (Founder and Charity Director): Sam founded MGEDT in Spring 2009 following his own experience of an eating disorder throughout his teens. Having had bulimia for eight years, he managed to recover in his early twenties. Reflecting on his experiences he realised being male was largely why he found it difficult to get appropriate support. In response to this he set up the original MGEDT website with the support of Fixers UK to raise awareness of male eating disorders and provide information and advice that is specific to men’s needs.
Sam is dedicated to raising awareness of male eating disorders and frequently talks about his experiences and of the issue of male eating disorders in the media and at conferences. Sam’s work has been recognised in the Shelia McKechnie Campaigner Awards, Beacon Prize, Beat Awards and the Talk Talk Digital Heroes Awards.
Charly K (Personal Assistant to the Charity Director): Charly joined MGEDT in summer 2017 in order to provide support to the Charity Director. Charly has previously been involved in charities such as the LGBT Switchboard in London and the Brighton and Hove Switchboard as a phone volunteer, and gained experience through working in anti-Fraud investigative firms and for the Ministry Of Defence as a regional analyst and coordinating officer.
Whilst Charly has had little personal experience with eating disorders, Charly’s partner and close family members have been affected by it. As such, Charly feels it a significant and personal issue.
Debbie Roche (Chair): Debbie, mother of three, is a former Health and Social Care Lecturer. Her career path changed direction when her youngest son was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Believing that education was the best weapon for her to use against the monstrous condition, Debbie turned her focus on eating disorders and mental health.
An accredited MHFA England Instructor for MHFA Adult and Lite courses and former Associate Trainer for the local Mind organisation, Debbie now delivers a series of mental health and wellbeing courses through her social enterprise Snapshot Mental Health (www.snapshotmentalhealth.com). Debbie believes the combination of her theoretical knowledge and personal journey with her son through the battle with anorexia, adds extra value to the courses she delivers.
As a social activist and mental health and suicide prevention campaigner, Debbie believes in tackling discrimination, social injustice and stigma. She founded NotED (No to Eating Disorders) www.noteduk.com, an eating disorder support and information group, which was borne from the inequitable experiences of caring for her son living with anorexia. She authored Anorexia: A Son’s Battle, A Mother’s War, a book also based on her experiences and learning throughout her son’s struggles.
Debbie has extensive experience as a board member. Her previous appointments include Healthwatch Plymouth and the Mental Health Strategic Quality Improvement Partnership. Currently she is a member of the Plymouth Suicide Prevention Partnership and the Project Advisory Board for the DeSTRESS project led by Exeter University.
Debbie is also Chair of Pembroke Estate Management Board and a Board member of Plymouth Community Homes.
Debbie is an experienced PR, events and conference coordinator.
Danny Bowman (Vice-Chair): ‘Danny Bowman is a mental health spokesperson at Parliament Street.
Danny Bowman started his own campaign with Fixers UK in 2013 on Body Dysmorphic Disorder subsequently his campaign went global and Danny appeared on tv all over the world raising awareness of the disorder.
Danny has written and complied two research papers on ‘Mental Health and the Social Media Society,’ and ‘A 21st Century Approach to Mental Health.’
Danny has spoken at conferences around the country on mental health and body image disorders including the 1st International BDD Foundation Conference.
Danny has worked alongside politicians of all political parties to forward to the cause of mental health
James Downs (Trustee): James is originally from Cardiff and is currently studying Psychology at the University of Cambridge. He is a very dedicated and committed campaigner for improved mental health services and raising awareness of eating disorders, especially amongst men. His personal interest stems from his own wealth of experience – good and bad – of trying to access support for a severe eating disorder, which developed in his teenage years and lasted for over a decade. In total, James had to wait over 6 years for specialist eating disorder treatment, something he believes nobody should have to endure.
James’s work to improve services began locally; participating on various NHS committees, undertaking outreach with the student population and helping deliver training including lectures on Cardiff University courses. This work quickly went national, when James became the “Voice of Mind” for Wales, representing Mind for their General Election campaign in 2015 and engaging extensively on a political level. He has subsequently shared his story and insight at many conferences as a keynote speaker, also receiving high-profile national media coverage and writing for the Huffington Post.
As a central member of the Cross-Party Group for Eating Disorders at the Welsh Assembly, James’s involvement was key in calling for a review of the Eating Disorders Framework for Wales. This resulted in an increase in funding of over 50% per annum for specialist services in Wales. With NHS England, he has worked with leading experts in the field to write curricula and service specifications for child and adolescent eating disorders services, and sees how these are implemented on the ground as a member of the Clinical Network for Eating Disorders for the South East of England.
James is also a qualified yoga teacher, and is running a project teaching yoga one-to-one within a specialist community eating disorders service in Wales. This is representative of his belief in always considering the whole person, and the benefits of providing holistic support in a non-medicalised setting.
Bev Mattocks (Trustee): Bev is the mother of Ben, a 23-year old man who developed anorexia at the age of 15 and is now fully recovered.
Living in Leeds, West Yorkshire, with her son and husband, Bev has worked as an advertising copywriter for over 27 years, something that definitely helped when compiling her first book ‘Please eat…: A mother’s struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia’ which she published in 2013. ‘Please eat’ was followed by a second book: ‘When anorexia came to visit: Families talk about how an eating disorder invaded their lives.’
In 2011, two years after her son’s eating disorder began to emerge, Bev began blogging. Her blog – AnorexiaBoyRecovery.blogspot.co.uk – describes the struggle to get her son through his eating disorder and, latterly, Bev’s own struggles with PTSD which came about as a result of dealing with the horrific changes that took place in her son: physically, mentally and behaviourally.
Bev’s blog aims to raise awareness that boys get eating disorders and to fast-track families through what can be a horrendous learning curve when a parent first realises that their child is developing an eating disorder. Bev wants to empower parents to demand speedy diagnosis and referral for treatment: evidence-based treatment such as FBT which includes parents as a valued and essential part of the treatment team. Most important of all, Bev wants to show that there is hope; that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible.
In addition to blogging and social media, Bev and her son have appeared on TV and Radio and in the press to raise awareness of the fact that boys get eating disorders. Bev also gives talks / presentations to parents and schools.
Bev has extensive experience of being an active member of a committee. Before her son fell sick, she was Deputy Chair of the school PTA with particular responsibility for advertising and promoting events and activities as well as managing the PTA website. Then, when Ben was in Year 10, everything changed. The eating disorder arrived with a vengeance and Bev became known to staff and parents for an altogether different reason…