Meet the team
Our Oxfordshire-based staff are proud to be a small part of the extended SpecialEffect family.
Ziggy, our Bookkeeper, joined us in 2020
Francis, our Technical Assistant, joined us in 2016.
Ellie is our Fundraising Events Coordinator
Dr Mick Donegan
Dr Mick Donegan
Dr Mick Donegan, our Founder and CEO, has many years of practice-based work as a teacher and an Assistive Technology specialist. He has extensive experience in assessing, teaching, training, and supporting people with complex communication difficulties. Mick was Deputy Head of Wilson Stuart Special School in Birmingham and Deputy Director of the ACE Centre, Oxford. He is an Associate Senior Associate Research Fellow at SMARTlab, University College, Dublin, and is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Assistive Design at OCAD University, Ontario.
Tom is our Fundraising and Communications Team Leader.
Bill is our Projects Manager.
Pam is our Administrator and PA to our CEO
Barrie is our Technical Specialist
Barry brings with him almost a quarter of a century of fundraising and supporter care experience. His roles have taken him from Oxfam in the UK to the United States and Europe with American not-for-profit, Habitat for Humanity. Barry was a trustee of SpecialEffect since 2007 before joining as staff in July 2014. He loves football (a big FIFA fan and lifelong West Brom supporter), Elite, cricket and dogs but also collects antique and contemporary fountain pens and loves to bake.
Nomi is a Specialist Occupational Therapist.
Paige is a content creator and is our Gaming Community Manager.
“Being able to work with SpecialEffect is a privilege and an honour. As a disabled gamer myself I can’t say how freeing it is for someone whose body limits them to be able to be included in worlds and activities they couldn’t usually experience. If you’re able, find time in your life to spread a little joy to others, and help SpecialEffect get disabled gamers back in the game.”
Alison has had an immensely varied career that has included being a reporter and assistant editor on a rock’n’roll magazine, a Personal Assistant, and a Community Relations Manager at a radio station. She juggles many roles here at SpecialEffect, including grants and trusts fundraising, and supporter care.
Jacob is an specialist occupational therapist who graduated from Coventry university in 2018 before starting work at SpecialEffect in the same year. He enjoys playing challenging RPGs such as Final Fantasy and Dark Souls, but also loves an old-school, colourful platformer such as Spyro and Ratchet & Clank. He also enjoys a spot of exercise, mainly gymnastics, trampolining, and (weather permitting) cycling.
Liam works in our Fundraising and Communications team.
Camilla, one of our specialist occupational therapists, joined us after graduating from Bournemouth University in the Summer of 2016. Camilla has been playing video games since the days of Nintendo64 and Gameboy.
Joe is one of our specialist occupational therapy team. He completed his degree at Bournemouth University in 2015, and after an eight-week placement with SpecialEffect he joined them full-time later that year. He has been playing computer games since he was four years old.
Harry, a psychology graduate from the University of Gloucestershire, helps with the tech aspects of SpecialEffect from equipment setups to testing and R&D, and is also heavily involved with our StarGaze Project. He’s been an avid gamer since the days of the N64 and the Gameboy, and has a particular passion for RPGs.
Jess is one of our administrators. She has extensive experience in the Civil Service and provides essential support for our assessment team.
Kate is our Assistant Administrator. She joined SpecialEffect in August 2016; having previously worked with children with special needs.
Frankie is one of our occupational therapy team. She graduated from Brunel Sept 2014 and joined us in November the same year. She’s a keen gamer and tackles titles on the PlayStation 3 along with classics on the Nintendo 64.
Liz is one of our specialist occupational therapists.
Mark provides communications support for our Fundraising and Communications team
Fran is one of our administrators.
Nick is our highly experienced fundraiser. He has been involved with the charity since it was formed in 2007 and is passionate about the difference it makes to people’s lives.
Gillian is a is our Senior Occupational Therapist and has many years of experience advising on seating, positioning and assistive technology.
Hannah provides Visual Information and Assessment Team Support
Simon runs a consulting company and sits on the board of several life sciences and Web2.0 companies.
“From the outset I have been bowled over not only by the hard work, dedication and patience of SpecialEffect staff, but also by the courage and humility of the people we help. It is my honour and pleasure to serve as a trustee, and to do whatever I can in my capacity to help.”
Paul spent many years with the UKMoD latterly in Quality Assurance. Now retired, he provides assistance to a telecommunications company with installation and maintenance of their ISO 9000/14000 Quality/Environmental systems and advice on Health & Safety matters.
“My wife and I first became involved with SpecialEffect about three years ago and continue to be impressed by the dedication of this motivational team and rewarded by seeing the joy it brings to so many.”
Rod made the unusual jump from X-ray Astrophysics research to Professional Audio equipment designer many years ago. For over a decade he has been running a small business that makes software processors for audio systems.
“One short SpecialEffect video will never leave my mind. A young disadvantaged lad with a huge and joyful smile, playing with a games controller for the first time. What a staggering difference SE has made to many lives.”
Caroline has worked as a family lawyer and mediator for many years. She now teaches English to professional students from abroad.
“I am deeply grateful that I’ve been able to serve as a Trustee for Mick’s amazing charity. Watching the skill, hard work and dedication of the team is inspirational, and the difference they make to people whose lives are severely limited is truly amazing.”
Simon is the founder of New Star Games and creator of New Star Soccer. He’s been a valued supporter of SpecialEffect for many years.
“When you spend your life creating and playing games it’s easy to take them for granted, so when I try to imagine having this hobby and passion taken away from me it makes it all the easier to see what wonderful work SpecialEffect are doing.”
Louise Wiltshire has been a teacher in primary schools for many years. She has had links with SpecialEffect from the very beginning due to a personal family link.
“I’ve always felt extremely privileged to be part of such an amazing charity. Everyone involved with SE devote all their working time to improving the lives of others, which is very humbling. They help to open ‘inclusive doors’ for those with various limiting conditions, making a difference to their lives.”
David is the Founder and CEO of Frontier Developments. He and his company have been incredible supporters of the charity over many years.
“SpecialEffect is a great charity. It is wonderful to see the delighted expression on the faces of the people being able to play games for possibly the first time. I love games as they enable you to enter a parallel world, and I would hope with many it will be a great positive in their lives.”
Carl is co-founder and CEO of Sumo Group plc, having previously held senior roles at Gremlin Interactive and Infogrames. He has been involved in the making of video games for well over two decades and also serves on the Board of TIGA, a trade association representing the video games industry.
“Video games are a wonderful way to enrich the lives of those that play them and to provide this opportunity to everyone especially those that might otherwise be excluded without the work of SpecialEffect is truly magical”.
Ian Livingstone CBE
Ian Livingstone CBE
Ian is a distinguished veteran of the games industry. He co-founded Games Workshop in 1975, co-authored the hugely successful Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, and launched Lara Croft:Tomb Raider when serving as Executive Chairman of Eidos. He is a Patron of Creative Skillset, Vice Chair of UKIE, an adviser to the British Council, and founder of the Livingstone Foundation.
“Play is natural, fun and rewarding and should be enjoyed by everybody. The incredible work that SpecialEffect does by using technology to modify games devices to give people with disabilities a quality of life they would otherwise miss out on is extraordinary. The joy that brings to people is truly inspirational. It is an honour and privilege to act as an Ambassador for the amazing charity that is SpecialEffect.”
John is SVP Commercial Publishing at SEGA Europe Limited.
“SpecialEffect are amazing and I am continually moved by your impact in changing people’s lives. Everyone at SpecialEffect is incredible; the work you do, the people you help, your tireless energy; it’s been a privilege to be associated with you over the years.”
Brendon is MD of STL Communications and has helped us in a number of ways, including the organisation of the Twin Town Challenge events which have so far raised over £800,000.
“While there are many small charities doing extremely worthwhile work in and around Oxfordshire, it’s impossible not to be inspired by the passion of Dr Mick Donegan and his team for the work that they do. After a tour of their offices I was hooked. I hope that I can use my business contacts to heighten awareness for Special Effect and help generate continuing income to support Special Effect and the disadvantaged people the charity so ably supports.”
John spent his career as a corporate finance adviser helping companies to develop and implement their growth strategies. He was a Managing Director of international bankers Lazard. He has served on the Fundraising Committee of the Board of Sargent Cancer Care for Children and of CLIC Sargent and as a Governor of Downe House School.
“I have been enormously impressed by the utter determination of Mick and the team to find solutions for profoundly disabled people, whatever it takes. It’s simply awe-inspiring to see a young person say “thank you for giving me my life back”. “
Richard Everard OBE DL
Richard Everard OBE DL
Richard Everard OBE DL is the Chairman of Everards Brewery. He was High Sheriff of Leicestershire and in 2003 was appointed Vice Lord Lieutenant of the county. In 2007 Richard was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland Army Cadet Force. He has held senior roles with several local charitable organizations including Age Concern Leicestershire and Rutland, Leicestershire Police Charitable Trust and Leicestershire and Rutland Crimebeat.
Craig is the former CEO of Multiplay, whose amazing support in many ways over many years have been pivotal to the growth of the charity.
“It’s been a real pleasure to be involved with SpecialEffect to raise money for the perfect charity for gamers. It’s hard to watch their YouTube videos and not be moved each time! I’m looking forward to helping change the lives of even more people unable to do what many of us take for granted.”
Tim Foster MBE was a member of the Great Britain coxless four rowing teams that won gold in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Bronze in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Tim has kindly raised both funds and awareness about SpecialEffect through a number of talks about his sporting experiences.
Rupert is an actor, writer and director, who is best known for his roles as Mr. Wickham in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice, Lieutenant Kurt Kotler in the 2008 film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Prince Albert in the 2009 film The Young Victoria, and Peter Quinn in Showtime’s multiple Emmy Award-winning television drama, Homeland.
Lizbeth is Chair of Creative Technology Innovation and Professor of Inclusive Design at University College Dublin, She specialises in working with people who do not have physical voices, enabling the use of new creative technologies for expression vocally, in writing, and with movement and music. She was the founder of www.smartlab-ie.com
Aaron Greenberg is the head of games marketing for Xbox.
“I have been incredibly inspired by the critically important work Dr Mick Donegan and the team at SpecialEffect are doing every day to help gamers with physical disabilities. We have not only benefitted from their involvement in the development of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, but grateful for how they are using this and other products to create custom solutions for even the most severely disabled gamers. There is no price you can put on the pure joy you see when a gamer is able to play their favorite game again, as when everyone can play, we all win!”
Alan is Head of the Forza Franchise for Xbox.
“Gaming can be the great equaliser – a place where people from around the world can play, compete, meet and socialise. What I love about the work SpecialEffect does is that they not only bring joy to so many, but they provide a north star for the entire gaming industry as we strive to create a level playing field for every gamer.”
Kati van der Hoeven
Kati van der Hoeven
Kati is a writer, blogger and winner of the JCI Finland young achiever award.
“I am honoured to be part of the organisation. I have Locked-In Syndrome, which means that I am almost entirely paralysed and I cannot speak. Knowing from my own experience how much difference technology can make to the quality of life of people with disabilities, my goal in everything I do is to help others who are in a similar situation to myself. As part of the SpecialEffect team I can do so even more.”
Roy was a Director of Leicester Tigers Rugby Club since for many years. He is the Chairman of Trustees of the Matt Hampson Foundation.
Miles Jacobson OBE is studio director of Sports Interactive, the team behind the Football Manager series of video games, and creators of the original Championship Manager.
Nick is the Managing Director of Focus Oxford Risk Management Ltd.
“I am truly honoured at being asked to become an honorary vice-president of SpecialEffect. I have been involved with a number of charities in Oxfordshire over the years both personally and through business and all do great work and are deserving causes. I was introduced to Dr Mick and the team back in 2015 and was instantly captivated at the positive work they do for people, changing lives for the better through play and improved communication.”
Chris is an angel investor in several leading mobile game studios. He was previously co-founder at Media Molecule and FreeStyleGames, as well as Vice President at Activision and Electronic Arts. Chris is also co-founder of playhubs and was named in MCV’s Top 100 most influential Brits in the Games Industry.
“I’m constantly overwhelmed by the life-changing projects that SpecialEffect make happen. I’m a great believer that games are to be celebrated for the joy and connectivity they can bring. There’s no better example than the work at SpecialEffect. It’s a privilege to be able to help them enrich so many lives and bring friends and family together.”
Rupert is the founder of Gamer Network – the games media business behind the successful EGX event and websites such as Eurogamer and GamesIndustry.biz.
“SpecialEffect is a wonderful charity and I’m proud that Gamer Network has been able to support it over the past few years by introducing hundreds of thousands of gamers to the incredible work they’ve been doing. Their tireless determination to ensure everybody can enjoy games, no matter their disability, is an inspiration.”
Johnny Minkley is an award-winning games writer and broadcaster, and former editor of Eurogamer TV.
Peter has more than 30 years of experience in gaming, entertainment and consumer products. Prior to joining Liverpool FC, he served as CEO of EA, President and COO of SEGA of America, and Senior Vice President of marketing at Reebok International Ltd.
“I’m a huge fan of SpecialEffect and what the charity does to help gamers with disabilities after first seeing a story of how they helped a fellow Liverpool fan (Tom) game again. As such, I’m absolutely delighted and honored to be a SpecialEffect Vice President.”
Justin Tomlinson MP
Justin Tomlinson MP
Justin Tomlinson MP was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People within the Department for Work and Pensions. He was first elected to Parliament in 2010 representing the North Swindon constituency, and prior to that was a nightclub manager and former small business owner.
As an avid fan himself, Justin served as the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Video Games during his first term in Parliament.
Tom Watson MP
Tom Watson MP
Tom Watson is an MP, author and gamer. When not making speeches in Parliament he writes games reviews for the New Statesman magazine. He is a former volunteer for Community Service Volunteers and has been a supporter of Special Effect since 2010.
“I was introduced to SpecialEffect by friends in the video games industry and was immediately captivated by their work. The small team who bring the joy of video games to people with disabilities are inspiring. Their patience and ingenuity knows no bounds. It’s an honour and a pleasure to join the team.”
Jo Twist OBE
Jo Twist OBE
Dr Jo Twist OBE is the CEO of Ukie, a trade body for games and interactive entertainment businesses in the UK, She was previously Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Education. Jo is a London Tech Ambassador, sits on the Bafta Games Committee, is one of the Top 100 UK Women in Video Games, on the MCV 100 Brit list in the games industry and is a BIMA Hot 100 in digital.
“I am humbled to have been asked to be a SpecialEffect Vice President. The innovative work they do to enable young people enjoy the games they love is incredibly inspiring. Games and the ability to play can enhance and enrich people’s lives in so many ways and everyone should have the right to play. The technology they create and how they modify controls also has the potential to inspire commercial applications and reminds developers and manufacturers that inclusivity and accessibility is crucial.”
Andy Payne is an experienced computer and video games professional of 30 years. He formed games production specialist The Producers in 1988 and Flight Simulation specialist Just Flight in 1997 and those companies still exist as part of The Mastertronic Group, of which Andy is chairman. Andy started Get Games in 2009 which is an independent digital games distribution platform and also leads the NESTA initiated games developer consortium, AppyNation. Andy is also chairman of UKIE, sits on the BAFTA video games committee and was a founder of games industry charity GamesAid.
“I have been privileged and lucky enough to have been on the journey with SpecialEffect right from the very start in 2007. The work the charity do is not only ground breaking, but it is essential. To see the hugely positive effect on disabled people playing games is not only heartening, it is overwhelming. To see them play on a level playing field, many for the first time ever, is truly transformational. ”
Kirsty Payne has been involved in the games industry for over twenty years enjoying stints at various publishers including Codemasters, Mindscape and Activision before co-founding Rocket Media, a specialist PR and Marketing agency working with clients such as Sony Computer Entertainment, Konami, GAME Group and Mastertronic Group, amongst others.
Jim Rosenthal has had a long broadcasting career as a sports presenter on British television, covering many sports including football, rugby, boxing and athletics.
“I first become aware of the ground-breaking work of SpecialEffect when I was a Director at Oxford United and the club raised money for an amazing little three-year-old girl called Charlotte who had lost her lower limbs through Meningitis. The charity found new and exciting ways for her to rebuild her life and play again with her family with friends using leading-edge computer technology. The range of technology the charity uses to help disabled young people from eye control technology through to specialist controllers to help children like Charlotte play really is something special. I was then honoured to don my boots for the charity in a fundraising match when even the managerial prowess of Ron Atkinson wasn’t enough to stop us getting beaten 7 – 5! I am delighted to become an honorary Vice President for this very special cause.”
Tania graduated from Exeter University with a degree in Mathematics and Psychology before pursuing a 15 year career in equity derivatives, working in London and Paris. In recent years Tania has been very involved in running the Rotherwick family estate, Cornbury Park, developing its property portfolio and new revenue streams including establishing Cornbury as the home of the highly acclaimed Wilderness festival. Tania is a longstanding Patron of ROSY (Respite Nursing for Oxfordshire’s Sick Youngsters) and a keen supporter of the arts, becoming a trustee of Modern Art Oxford in 2014.
Kate Russell is a journalist, reporter and author who has been writing about gaming, technology and the internet since 1995. Best known for weekly appearances on the BBC technology programme Click, she is a frequent face on TV, radio and in magazines as a technology expert, with regular columns in National Geographic Traveller and BBC Focus. For more information visit http://katerussell.co.uk. (pic courtesy Fashot.tv)
“When I first heard about the work Special Effect do it resonated deeply with me as my own life was somewhat turned around by computer gaming as a teenager. Gaming is often dismissed as a frivolous waste of time. But when you see first-hand the joy it gives families struggling to deal with a degenerative disease or life-changing accident of a loved one, bringing them together in an act of fun and allowing those with limited body-control to play on a level field with friends and siblings, it’s hard to deny that the little slice of normality it affords is having a massively positive impact on the whole family. I’m beyond thrilled to be joining the team at Special Effect and look forward to working with this amazing charity to bring the healing power of ‘having fun together’ to more and more families in future.”
David is the GM and EP for the FIFA, NHL and UFC console games at Electronic Arts.
“I’m totally humbled to have been asked to be a VP of SpecialEffect. The work that Dr. Mick and the team do and the impact they have on the lives of these amazing gamers is incredible. Please support these wonderful people in any way you can.”
Frank is CEO at Codemasters, a British game developer and publisher with a long history in racing spanning 30 years. The company is best known for games such as the Formula One Championship Series, DiRT, GRID, Micro Machines, Colin McRae and TOCA amongst many others. Frank was previously at Electronic Arts and is an ambassador for BAFTA Games.
“SpecialEffect is a remarkable charity and I could not be more proud that Codemasters has been able to support their outstanding work over the past few years. When I first saw the smile on people’s faces who were able to enjoy playing games with their friends, I got truly inspired by SpecialEffect’s raison d’être and understood the profound impact of their tailor-made work on people’s lives. I am delighted and honoured to be a SpecialEffect Vice-President”.
Tim Schafer is the President and CEO of Double Fine Productions, makers of many critically acclaimed games including Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, Costume Quest, Stacking, Iron Brigade, Kinect Party, and The Cave. Prior to Double Fine, Tim was a Project Leader at LucasArts Entertainment Company, where he was responsible for several classic PC adventure games, including Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. Tim also co-designed Day of the Tentacle, and served as a writer and assistant designer on The Secret of Monkey Island 1 and 2.
“I am amazed and inspired by the great work that SpecialEffect does every day. I have always believed video games have the power not just to entertain, but really reach and connect. Thanks to SpecialEffect, they are able to connect even more people.”
Philip has been a professional musician for more than twenty years, primarily as the drummer in Oxford-based band, Radiohead, and more recently as a singer and songwriter of his solo material. He lives locally to SpecialEffect’s home in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds and became a supporter of the organisation in 2013.
“When I first visited SpecialEffect in Charlbury, I realised how easily I take for granted the pleasure my three sons get from playing their video games and the sense of connection it gives them to their friends. I was immediately impressed by the practicality and ingenuity of SpecialEffect, as they work to bring this same fun and inclusion to people with physical disabilities. I was bowled over by the passion and tireless commitment of all the staff, and I’m very much looking forward to being part of the organisation.”
Andrew Stalbow is the Co-founder & CEO of Seriously.
“Everything about SpecialEffect is inspiring, no more so than their mission, helping people with disabilities all over the world enjoy gaming by building custom controls and more.
The talented team at SpecialEffect are as passionate as they come, as seen in their efforts to bring awareness to the unique work they do, or looking to raise funds in authentic and creative ways, as they galvanize the games industry and beyond to offer time and money to support the project.
Both I and my colleagues at Seriously have had the privilege to work alongside the team at SpecialEffect. We consider ourselves lucky to be partners, and we are awed by their compassion and clarity of focus on the impact that gaming can have to improve people’s lives.”
Kelvin Thomas is the Chairman of Northampton Town Football Club and co-owner of Shaq Fu Radio. One of his previous roles was as the Chairman of Oxford United FC, where he met the SpecialEffect team.
“I am very proud of my involvement with SpecialEffect. Having spent some time with Dr Mick and the team it’s so easy to try and help out. As the Chairman of Oxford United Football Club, the Charlotte Nott/SpecialEffect Day was one of my proudest moments. Standing on the pitch that day watching Charlotte kick a ball around with her dad, and seeing Oxford United fans texting donations in the stands was just fantastic. The work that is done at SpecialEffect is so powerful and inspirational, and this comes about due to the hard work and dedication of everyone there.”
Paul Wedgwood is one of three founders of Splash Damage and currently the CEO of the company.
Trevor is a founder and director of Playground Games, the developer behind the award winning Forza Horizon series of games. He has over 25 years experience running game development studios with previous roles at Codemasters, Vivendi Inc, Swordfish, Rage plc and Elite Systems.
“The work the team at SpecialEffect do on a daily basis is remarkable … truly remarkable. Both myself and Playground are equally proud and humbled to be associated with such an amazing charity. How the SpecialEffect team are able to adapt the games we make and bring genuine joy to people in challenging circumstances is an inspiration and an example to us all.”
Dr Richard Wilson
Dr Richard Wilson
Dr Richard Wilson is CEO of TIGA, a trade association representing the video games industry. He was previously Director of Communications at the Royal Academy of Engineering and Head of Business Policy at the Institute of Directors. He serves on the board of the European Games Developers’ Federation and Creative Skillset’s Video Games Skills Council.
“I am continually struck by the selfless commitment of the SpecialEffect team, the transformative impact that they have on people’s lives and their capacity to bring great happiness to a great many people. I am honoured to be appointed a SpecialEffect Vice-President and I look forward to supporting the work of this exemplary charity in the years ahead.”
Tim is the Head of Publishing at Hello Games.
“SpecialEffect are a very special charity. Very unassuming both in their invaluable work helping people with disabilities find solace and enjoyment in video games, and in their fundraising efforts. Their soft-sell, polite approach is charming and endearing, but almost to their detriment, which is why I am honoured and humbled to be asked to be a flag-bearer, no, megaphone, for them and their work. They are a force for good in the video games world and a positive inspiration for all of us.”
Barry provided invaluable support in the very early days of SpecialEffect through Five Star Events, and continues to be a hugely valued friend and supporter of the charity.
“I first became aware of SpecialEffect when my wife, Louise, was assigned to a SpecialEffect team for the 2010 Walk4Matt. It was clear that the people we met were honest, generous, passionate about what they did – and keen to embark upon crazy challenges to raise funds for their charity! I was lucky to have enjoyed a long and relatively successful professional rugby career. I was able to pursue my dream and play rugby for a living but I am well aware that, for some, the dream that’s pursued is a much simpler one – just to be able to live a normal life.”
Zac is the Director of Publishing at Frontier Developments.
“I have so much admiration for the work that the SpecialEffect team do. Giving people the power to access and enjoy games and technology has an indescribably huge impact on their day to day lives and the team work tirelessly to support and spread awareness of this incredible cause. I’m honoured to be able to support their fantastic work.”
Kristen’s amazing support includes the sale of custom-made merchandise to raise funds for us.
“I came across SpecialEffect a few years ago when I was invited by a friend to participate in GameBlast. Playing games for 24hrs sounds like fun, but it was incredibly challenging, especially due to my disability (Hypermobility Syndrome). Something inside me clicked that day. Gaming is such an integral part of my life. I’d grown up with a twin brother who was partially sighted, and gaming was a big part of how we bonded as kids. I wanted to be able to make a difference; to do something to help such an amazing charity. So I set about organising a charity gaming event. It was a success and from that, I decided I wanted a way to raise money for charity on a regular basis. From there I opened an online store selling my artwork; where every purchase raises money for charity.”
Ron was the Founder of AtomHawk and now provides creative and business leadership and specialist consultancy.
“Having taken part in two Twin Town Challenge events to help raise money for SpecialEffect, I’ve seen how amazing their work is and what a difference it can make. I hope that as an ambassador for the charity I can help the team extend their expertise and support to even more families and raise awareness of the awesome things they can do.”
Dave’s local support has been invaluable.
“I got to know about the incredible work SpecialEffect do when I was approached (in my capacity as a Man with A Van) to carry out a delivery for them. I was so blown away by the work they do that I have to admit finding ‘something in my eye’ when reading their stories and the life-changing difference they have made to people’s lives. It is an absolute pleasure and privilege to offer my help to such a wonderful cause whenever I can.”
Mark is the Community Manager at New Star Games.
“I’ve been in the games industry for 20 years and I had never really given it a second thought that people with disabilities were missing out. I’ve now made it my aim to do what I can to highlight the expert work done by the expert team at SpecialEffect as I believe that there can be no greater reward than bringing a measure of happiness back to peoples lives and in this aspect SpecialEffect excel.”
Dean is a partner at Charlbury Garage.
“I first came across SpecialEffect through working on their vehicles, and I was totally amazed at how much they do for people all over the country. They have a great team of professionals and I am lucky that after Twin Town Challenge 2016 I can call them friends. As an ambassador I will be helping in any way I can.”
Colette Barr is an experienced videogames/tech PR professional and dedicated gamer.
“I first started gaming when I was a child and have extremely fond memories growing up with videogames over the years. Being able to play any game I wanted, when I wanted was something that I always took for granted, when in fact it’s something that should be treasured. This is why I have loved supporting and raising money for SpecialEffect and over the years it has always been a great and humbling experience. The good that Team SE do to help those with disabilities enjoy interactive entertainment is incredible and it’s so wonderful to see the lives they have changed with their work.”
“It’s been a true privilege to learn about the work and meet the team of SpecialEffect. My aim is to continue supporting and spreading awareness of SpecialEffect so that more people with disabilities of any kind are able to enjoy games as much as anyone else.”
Steve is Head of Finance at Paul Basham Associates.
“I first became aware of SpecialEffect whilst working for The MGroup back in 2013 and it didn’t take long to see what an incredible charity it is. I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the team and couldn’t wait to support such a great cause. It’s a huge honour to be an ambassador for this truly amazing charity.”
Becs is fantastic friend of the charity. Previously she was a member of the Nomad Games team, who have provided generous support over many years, and she’s now a Social Media Consultant at Social Media Executive Ltd.
“SpecialEffect is the perfect name for this fantastic charity, they have really touched my heart with the dedication and enthusiasm from the whole team of staff and volunteers. It’s amazing how something as simple as video games can transform people’s lives, such a worthy cause that I am proud to support”
Robin is the Composer & Music Director at Rare.
“These days, gaming is such an integral part of everyone’s life, whether this is for communication, development of motor skills, or simply enjoyment. It is essential that everyone has access & this is where SpecialEffect are unique. I am blown away by how SpecialEffect are keen to ensure that everyone is included in todays ever progressing technology and in doing so, often open new doors in many people’s lives. No challenge is too big or too small for them and this is why I am so inspired and willing to support them in any way I can.”
Alison has been an amazing supporter of SpecialEffect for many years
Hollie is Head of Influencers and Engagement at Frontier Developments.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play games for as long as I can remember – this exciting and creative medium is something I feel so passionately about. SpecialEffect help people who normally wouldn’t be able to play to have access to them and all the amazing experiences they have to offer. They make sure that nobody has to miss out and that means so much to me and so many others.”
Joel is one of the leading videogame Agents and Partner at Interactive Studio Management. He represents the business interests of top game developers all round the world. A huge thank you to Joel and his wife Kimberley Robinson for organising the ‘Games Guns Giving’ videogame industry clay pigeon shoot in aid of SpecialEffect.
Imogen is a Release Manager at Xbox.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to play games. As I became older games often became a means of escapism, a way to wind down after a hard day or get lost in a far-flung world when things were all just getting a bit much. Upon discovering the work of SpecialEffect, I was struck with the harsh reality that this was a privilege, one that up until then I had taken for granted. I’ve been fortunate enough to develop my career in the games industry, and I knew that I wanted to give something back and that there was no better way to do that than through supporting the work of SpecialEffect. Every moment spent fundraising, running, gaming and conversing for SpecialEffect has been time that I’ve cherished – even that one time I ended up in hospital after a Spartan Race.
It’s nothing short of an honour to support the team at SpecialEffect in helping them change the lives of differently-abled gamers and their families, and I can’t think of a charity more deserving of your time or support.”
Dave is the Art Manager at Sumo Digital.
“After being invited to take part in the Twin Towns 2016 event for SpecialEffect, I was deeply moved when I saw the presentation about the huge difference the charity made to young lives. As a member of the UK games industry, I felt like I should try to do more. So I made a decision that very moment to try to help SpecialEffect as much as possible, in any small way that I could. Since then, as a keen runner, I have undertaken Marathons and 100km Ultra-Marathons to raise funds and awareness for the charity, and have plans to do many more in future. I am immensely proud to represent them as an Ambassador”
Graeme is a popular figure in the games industry and has been hugely supportive of us both in terms of fundraising and spreading awareness. He’s run the British 10K for us twice, and was part of our football squad when we graciously let a team of Arsenal celebs beat us 6-3.
“Since I was a wee boy I’ve been taking for granted that I can play videogames whenever I want,” said Graeme. “That’s what really hit me when I first heard about SpecialEffect – being able to play the games we love is a privilege that we should all cherish.”
“SpecialEffect made me realise that everyone should have the right and the opportunity to play games. And by showing me the amazing work they do with people of all ages, they’ve shown that gaming can be a truly positive force in improving the quality of life for people with physical and mental disabilities.”
Tracy, Executive PA at EA, has been a friend of SpecialEffect for many years.
“Working for the best video games company in the world allows me to support SpecialEffect and the incredible work they undertake to make gaming possible for everyone, which fits in perfectly with our own purpose and beliefs that allow us to put “Players First” regardless of their ability or disability.”
Emma is the Head of Player Engagement across the Age of Empires franchise at Xbox.
“I’ve been playing games since before I could write my own name and it’s easy to take these experiences for granted. Games really do bring people together, whether it’s a family in a living room or friends playing online. For someone to be excluded from this experience due to disabilities is completely unfair and this is why I so passionately back the work that SpecialEffect does. Gaming is for everyone and they’re making that true for people every day!”
Aaron has been a fantastic supporter of the charity for many years.
“I support SpecialEffect in the work they do to enable people who wouldn’t normally be able to game to enjoy the fun and freedom that games can allow. What the charity can do with controllers and technology is amazing to see.”
Neil is the Community Manager at Wired Productions and is the Co-founder and Trustee of the mental health charity, Safe in Our World.
“A few years ago I remember driving to Oxfordshire, to sit in the beautiful SpecialEffect offices with a PowerPoint of what I was planning support wise with my then employer. I’ll admit, it was bonkers. Really, it was bananas bonkers. But… we did every single crazy thing! In the space of a few months, we’d taken part in Gameblast16, building a makeshift studio and getting some of the biggest publishers and games around involved, played football at Wembley, drove to France and back in a taxi covered in grass (oh yes!) and talked to thousands of gamers about SpecialEffect, raising what at the time, was a record breaking amount. It was an incredible honour to be involved in and something I am so proud to have been able to continue in my career. Please support SpecialEffect, not just with your time and money, but also by sharing what they do to those who need their help”
Tim is the developer of Alt Controller, the crucial software link in many of the successful eye-controlled video game setups that we provide.
“SpecialEffect kindly invited me to visit them and showed me some great technology and videos about the work that the charity does. It was really inspiring, but it was also clear that they were often constrained by the lack of accessibility features in many PC games. We discussed the idea of writing a program to emulate game controls in a way that was independent of the games themselves.
So I beavered away for a few months and created Alt Controller. It’s a bit experimental and certainly not perfect, but it has created a couple of ways for people to play games where they couldn’t before, so that’s great.”
Tom is a teacher at the Cooper Jordan School in Walsall.
“I first found out about SpecialEffect whilst carrying out research for a topic we were carrying out in our Year 3 class. I was blown away by the amazing work that they were carrying out and wanted to help out in anyway that I could, as from personal experience I knew the huge difference gaming can make. I am honoured to be an ambassador for the charity and cannot wait to help out such an awesome bunch of people.”
Michael has worked for Frontier Developments for many years, including the role of Executive Producer.
“All too often video games are represented in a negative light, but the work of SpecialEffect demonstrates the positive aspects that video games can bring to people’s lives – especially those who already face challenges with physical disabilities.”
Ali Butler worked at Wychwood Brewery, part of Marstons PLC, for many years, managing local events and sponsorship for the brewery.
“Having been introduced to SpecialEffect a few years ago it soon became clear that this small team of people were absolutely dedicated to bringing whatever enjoyment they could to those in completely debilitating situations. The focus and determination to ensure that ‘fun’ was still firmly on the agenda for those in need was truly humbling and they fast became the brewery’s adopted charity. Their appreciation for our contribution, however small, is always one of overwhelming gratitude which is why we will continue to offer our unconditional support for the foreseeable future.”
Marta is a senior web designer at SEGA Europe Limited.
“Being fully able to enjoy technology is a blessing many of us take for granted, so it is an honour to an ambassador for SpecialEffect and the amazing work they do. I grew up playing video games and to this day that allows me to be happy and to keep pursuing dreams when times are difficult. I believe that what gaming does for your mental well being is so positive that I will keep helping SpecialEffect in any way I can in order to bring the joy of video games to people’s lives.”
Gillian has had an extensive career in business both as an executive and non executive director. She has also worked with a number of different charities.
“SpecialEffect came into our lives when we needed them most. It is an amazing ‘can do’ organisation, filled with truly wonderful people.”
Ian is a veterinary surgeon specialising in horses and the managing director of B&W Equine Vets.
“The SpecialEffect team could not have done more to help our son Rob see that there could be a level of independence following a most tragic accident that left him paralysed from the neck down and seemingly unable to do anything for himself. I am delighted to be an Ambassador for SpecialEffect and hope that by raising awareness many more people can be helped in a similar way.”
Rob has been an inspiration both for ourselves and for many people with high spinal injuries. In 2015 he was the first tetraplegic to complete a Tough Mudder course in a powered wheelchair.
Johnny is an Air & Space Operation Manager with the RAF.
“I first came to know about SpecialEffect through Twin Town 2018 when I was involved as a volunteer. More than happy to help, I thought it would be a fun weekend away, helping a worthwhile cause… nothing more than that. Little did I know how much the work of SpecialEffect would touch, humble and inspire me. I’m constantly blown away by what these guys do and have met some amazing people, many of whom I now call friends. I look forward to being more involved and helping in what way I can to make a difference.”
Claire began running because of a tweet from SpecialEffect asking if anyone wanted to run the Brighton Marathon for us. Claire has worked in the games industry and is an avid gamer herself.
Alex Chapman is an intellectual property expert and leading lawyer in the interactive entertainment, leisure and creative industries.
Charlie is founder of sports game developer First Touch Games and has been a supporter of SpecialEffect since 2011. He, along with other staff from his company, ran the 2011 British 10k for the charity.
“I first came across SpecialEffect in early 2011 when I was still with Exient, and we’d donated a load of games. In truth I didn’t know much about them and the work they did, but donating some games seemed the least we could do. Looking back though, it wasn’t until I had the chance to visit them later in the year that my eyes were really opened to the amazing work they do, and the lives they change.”
“I’ve played video games since the days of the ZX Spectrum and I’ve taken for granted the ability to be challenged, relaxed, and enthralled in equal measures. So when I was asked to be an ambassador I was delighted to accept. Videogames are often portrayed pretty negatively, and the work SpecialEffect does proves (in their words) that games can be a force for good. Most importantly though, they really do change lives, and I’d urge people to check out their videos or track the team down at the various events they attend.”
We first met Tim through the BBC, who were filming a documentary piece about eye gaze control.
“Playing games with my Eye Gaze’s my favourite pastime. My record’s playing continuously for seven and a half hours until my mum forced me to rest.”
Martyn is the Branch Sales and Operations Manager at Routeco.
“SpecialEffect inspire me daily, and so many others, with improvements to the quality of life the team are able to bring to people’s lives young and older. Over the years knowing the team it is the joy that they bring motivates them to deliver these life-changing benefits to so many more people.”
“I love how the team at SpecialEffect are making sure that everyone can experience the sense of autonomy, competence and escape which makes gameplay amazing. The benefits, however, are more than just about play – they are about removing physical limitations and allowing players to focus on reconnecting with friends and family around shared experiences.”
Will is a Tetraplegic Liberal Democrat County Councillor for the Lakes Ward of Cumbria County Council and a proactive charity worker.
“Following a cycling injury in July 2012 which left me paralysed below the shoulders. I was told I would never be able to do many things again, including playing computer games. The SpecialEffect team could not have done more to dispel this. Within 30 minutes of visiting SpecialEffect I was playing FIFA on the Playstation in two-button mode using my shoulders and chin. I now play regularly against friends. I am delighted to be an Ambassador for SpecialEffect and hope that by raising awareness many more people can be helped in a similar way.”
Ollie Clarke is Creative Producer at Bossa Studios.
“On first meeting the team at Special Effect it was clear that they are incredibly caring, intelligent and professional people. The work they do dramatically enables so many people to live a far richer life and share in the joys of playing with friends. SpecialEffect recognise that life is about more than surviving. It’s about living. It’s a privilege to be a part of supporting the work they perform and to see the joy it brings to so many amazing people.”
Nina is a familiar face in events and networking in the games industry. She has been helping promote SpecialEffect via her own channels for some time and in 2012 she appointed SpecialEffect as the charity partner for the GameHorizon Conference, helping raise money and the profile of the charity to around 300 games industry executives.
“SpecialEffect is an incredible charity that is making phenomenal steps in using gaming technology for good. Through their efforts in working with people with disabilities and industry, they are making games truly inclusive and changing lives.”
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the enormous energy the SpecialEffect team has created, it’s infectious. They are an inspiration and I am truly honored to have been made an ambassador.”
Doug Cockle is an actor and director with extensive experience in theatre, film, television, radio, video games and corporate video.
“As a gamer myself and as a member of the games industry community I’ve always loved the work that SpecialEffect do. Helping people with physical limitations to live happier and more connected lives through gaming is simply awesome. I’ve loved it since I first found out about it and try to raise awareness and support wherever I can. On one occasion this has meant me wearing a fluffy panda head on a live stream charity event raising money for SpecialEffect…. Who would’ve known?!”
Harry has supported SpecialEffect in numerous activities, helping mainly with PR but also taking part in fundraising events. He helped to manage PR around David Cameron’s visit to SpecialEffect HQ in 2011, pushing the visit into the press. He’s also helped with various other press activities to raise the charity’s profile. As an ambassador Harry has built numerous business relationships for SpecialEffect and continued to spread the word of the work it does as an active member of the UK’s games industry.
Harry ran the British 10k for SpecialEffect in 2012 alongside a semi-clothed man dressed as Blanka, and played for both sides in the SpecialEffect versus Arsenal Legends football match, appearing in both team photos.
“I met SpecialEffect for the first time two years ago and I’d signed up to support them with PR and marketing within five minutes! I don’t regret it, as you can’t put a value on the importance of the work SpecialEffect do. The charity is a real positive for the games industry and I’m very proud to be an ambassador alongside such an incredible group of people.”
Spencer has been a great supporter of the charity for several years.
“Imagine you have a happy life, friends, enjoyment, comfort, frivolities. Now imagine that the enjoyment only happens for a small fraction of time. Comfort occurs only in a certain position, or when your mind is totally occupied concentrating on something, and frivolities don’t really exist. SpecialEffect create those missing moments, the dedication and ingenuity of the people there give these children and people that enjoyment, comfort and frivolities.
I first came across SpecialEffect through playing Elite Dangerous, and then met a couple of the crew at some of the conventions that sprung up, Since then I’ve been a fan and supporter, having been interested in computer games most of my life, I find their work moving.”
Sam is the Managing Director and Co-founder of Esports Insider.
“I first got to know about the amazing work SpecialEffect do back in 2017, and it was then we first started working to support them as best we could via our very first B2B events at Esports Insider. We’ve continued to do so since and luckily via the WFH League, which we launched with Platform in 2020, we’ve been able to step this up a bit too. So far we’ve raised £3,500 and counting! Everyone I’ve met from the SE team has been lovely to work with, and the nature of the work they do is incredibly important.”
Rose is the International Marketing Manager at Bethesda.
“During my time as a Trustee of GamesAid I have seen first hand the amazing work that SpecialEffect do. I have met the team, visited their HQ, met some of the people who have benefitted from their efforts. I have never failed to be impressed. I am a firm believer in the positive effects offered by gaming for everyone.”
Beth is a mum of three from Chipping Norton who was heavily involved in the Walk4Matt fundraising for SpecialEffect and continues to be an all-round star supporter.
Sophie was an intern at SpecialEffect before becoming Community and Communications Officer at Ukie. She now works as Account Manager at Edelman for Xbox UK.
“I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work as part of the SpecialEffect team, and have therefore seen first-hand the incredible impact they have and the amount of hard work that everyone on the team puts into the charity. The enormous difference that they make to the lives of people with disabilities and their families is impossible to miss, and the energy of everyone involved in supporting the charity is a brilliant thing to be a part of. It’s a huge privilege to remain part of the SpecialEffect world as an ambassador for the charity.”
David is the Business Development Analyst at Sumo Digital.
“Since getting involved with their 2016 TwinTown Charity Rally, it has been an honour being able to help raise charity and awareness for SpecialEffect during my career in the gaming industry. As a game developer, one of my core goals is to bring enjoyment to those who play our games and SpecialEffect’s work helps extend that mission. Their efforts are important in not only allowing disabled people across the UK and beyond to enjoy these games, but ultimately improving their quality of life as a whole. Seeing the smiles and laughter from those who have received SpecialEffect’s helping hand is amazingly heart-warming and inspirational. As an Ambassador, I’m looking forward to continuing to help fundraising and building awareness for an amazing cause!”
Alan is the Talent Tracker at Amiqus.
“People like Mick, Nick and Tom et al, humble me with their drive and tenacity to change people’s lives through play. Seeing the case studies really brings home the difference this amazing charity makes to the lives of those it touches. Fundraising for something is so much easier and more rewarding when you truly believe in the charity. I do.”
Keren’s support has been greatly appreciated by all the team at SpecialEffect.
“I came to see the amazing work of SpecialEffect first-hand when I attended an open evening with my husband Steve. I was both moved and astounded by the work the charity do, changing and making an incredible difference to people’s lives by giving them access to computers and gaming. I decided there and then that I would raise money for SpecialEffect when I ran the London marathon in April 2016 – it certainly helped to keep me going knowing what a great cause the money is going to.”
Steve is Chairman of NRG Fleet Services Ltd
“I first heard about SpecialEffect from Brendon Cross. Having refereed the football game v Arsenal and met Mick and Nick I decided I wanted to get more involved. I was also inspired by the work they did with Rob Camm. I’m now looking to help where I can going forward with this very special charity!”
Sally runs a personal training business specialising in rehabilitation and has been involved in many fundraising events for SpecialEffect over the years.
“I am delighted to become one of SpecialEffect’s ambassadors. Through my work with the charity and personal connections I know just how important it is to keep up the momentum of the amazing and life changing work that the charity does. As an ambassador I will be doing everything I can to offer support to SpecialEffect.”
Phil is the Director of White Horse Telecom Ltd.
“I’ve been aware of SpecialEffect for a number of years, although my first real involvement came leading up to and during the Twin Town Challenge event in 2014 – an event conceived and organised by STL’s MD and SpecialEffect Trustee Brendon Cross. Having been lucky enough to spend time with some of the great people involved with the charity and also having witnessed first hand the work that the guys do, I’ve seen the amazing difference that SpecialEffect makes to peoples’ lives, and I’m honoured to be involved as an Ambassador for the charity”
George has been a great supporter of the charity for many years and we’re honoured to have helped him with his own gaming setup.
“The help and support you’ve given me over the years has meant a lot to me. Being able to game again helped me through a tough time and gave me back a platform where I could compete on a level playing field with my friends and others!”
“From the moment we first saw SpecialEffect we were amazed by the work they did. So much so that we choose them as our charity for 2015. During that time we realised that they not only did the most awe-inspiring work that transforms lives but that they were the most down to earth team of people. When we got to meet Dr Mick it was no surprise that we felt so inspired by his passion, commitment and drive for helping others through technology. As an Ambassador I hope to be able to play my part by not only raising some cash but by introducing them to other businesses for further support and awareness.”
Craig Duncan, lifelong gamer, family man and games industry leader lucky enough to turn his passion into his day job. Craig is the Studio Head of Rare Ltd, a Microsoft Studio with a 30 year legacy of creating hit games.
“SpecialEffect is such a special charity which does incredible work to bring the enjoyment of play to gamers with disabilities. I’m thrilled to be an Ambassador for the charity and I look to helping and evangelising about the amazing work the SpecialEffect team do wherever I can”
Andy is CPO at First Touch Games.
“From the moment I was first introduced to the SpecialEffect team, and the work they do, I’ve been blown away by positive impact they make upon people lives, and the industry. So when asked to become an ambassador, I was truly honoured. I will be doing everything possible in the future to help support this fantastic charity.”
After getting rather excited by home computing in the early 80s, Rich has worked in the computer and video games business for over 30 years. Initially on the editorial side of the early games magazines, he moved into communications for games developers and publishers. He now works for Jagex.
“Growing up, with my mother working as a teacher for kids with special needs within a regular school, I gained an appreciation that it’s the inclusion in the everyday things that’s vitally important for anyone with any level of disability, especially when they’re young. Today, we like to think that gaming can be a regular facet of anyone’s entertainment make up and the work SpecialEffect perform makes it possible for it to be truly part of everyone’s entertainment experience, no matter what their physical abilities. I’ve seen the difference that the SpecialEffect team makes to the lives of young people who want to continue to be part of the gaming community and I’ve been repeatedly impressed and inspired by their dedication and success in enabling anyone to enjoy and benefit from the stimulation, immersion and just plain good old fun that gaming offers all of us.”
Lisa has been been a valued friend and supporter of the charity for many years and works for games communications agency ICO.
“The way video games bring people together is amazing. Even if you don’t understand each other’s languages, you can still play a game together and connect on a level that would have been difficult to achieve otherwise. Everyone should get to experience this type of connection.This is why I find SpecialEffect’s mission incredibly important. Being asked to be an ambassador is an honour and I can’t wait to help out where I can!”
Natasha is the Managing Director of Urban Element.
“Knowing SpecialEffect for many years now, it’s been absolutely inspiring and humbling to see how much they have grown as a charity and more importantly how many more individuals they are helping and how many more lives they are touching! Every time I watch one of the videos or read one of the stories about the inspirational people they’ve helped I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion. Being a mum of two and running a technology company so much of what SpecialEffect do resonates with me. I just love the charity and I’m honoured to be an ambassador!”
Ant is a software tester who’s worked for RARE and Codemasters.
“Gaming is a very important aspect of my life and I can tell you anything you need to know about portly Italian plumbers. I’ve been marathon gaming for SpecialEffect for a number of years now and it’s always a joy. Not only are these guys professionals, their love always shows and only makes me want to do more for them.”
“When we decided we wanted to run a gaming marathon for charity we really wanted to raise money for a cause we could believe in. After some research on-line, we found a few American-based gaming charities but we felt we wanted to support something a bit closer to home. When we came across SpecialEffect we knew that these were the guys we could get behind – genuinely excellent human beings who are helping people every day, not just to take part but to compete.”
Caroline Fagan is Senior Partnerships Manager at the Football Association.
“I first became aware of SpecialEffect back in 2008 after my friend Stuart suffered a devastating spinal injury whilst playing rugby. I saw with my own eyes the positive effect this charity had, and I have since done what I can to support these clever tech-y people in order that they can continue to provide a glimmer of hope and happiness to those in need. I am honoured to be an Ambassador for this amazing charity and look forward to plenty more fundraising events!”
Giles runs the Games and Interactive division at Skillsearch.
“After meeting the SpecialEffect team at Develop in 2014, Skillsearch decided to support them as our chosen company charity that year. 5 years on and they remain our team’s chosen charity for all internal fundraising and the local industry events that we organise. This continued support comes from our appreciation of the exceptional work that SpecialEffect does – literally changing lives through games.”
John is the Director of Amber Wealth Creation.
“I first became aware of SpecialEffect five years ago via my participation in the Twin Town Challenge and other events. It inspired me to become actively involved and participate in the 2018 London Marathon where clients, friends and family helped me raise over £8,000 towards their life-changing work. I never cease to be amazed by Dr Mick and his commitment to helping more and more people. It’s an honour to become an Ambassador for such a great charity.”
Will is Product Manager at Frontier Developments.
“I have had the pleasure to work alongside SpecialEffect for the last three years, supporting the charity alongside our amazing gaming communities. The work that Dr Mick and SpecialEffect do in bringing the joy of gaming to those with physical disabilities is incredibly inspiring. SpecialEffect is a wonderful cause and one that will have my never-ending support.”
Michael is the Director of Xbox Global Integrated Marketing.
“I have worked for the Xbox brand for just over 10 years, Thankfully, there have been a few opportunities where we have been able to support Dr Mick, Nick and the wonderful team there, and we all absolutely love any chance that we get to support the team… either through woeful Football performances, (even though I’ve had trials for Stoke), 10k runs, or getting the team involved in global events to bring their work to the broadest audience.”
Dave has been a supporter of the charity for many years.
“Knowing the huge, positive impact that SpecialEffect is making to the lives of people with physical challenges it’s a pleasure to do my bit to help Dr Mick and the team each month.”
Stream team Russell and Susan have provided invaluable support for the charity. Russell says:
“I first found out about SpecialEffect whilst researching a charity who I could support via our live facebook gaming stream. Our first page moderator, Natalie, is a disabled gamer herself and we were blown away by the amazing work that SpecialEffect do to make gaming all inclusive. I’m honoured to be an Ambassador for such a wonderful charity and will continue to support Dr Mick and the team through our continuous fundraising activities.”
Stream team Susan and Russell have provided invaluable support for the charity. Susan says:
“Though Russell is the face of the stream, we run it very much as a partnership. The wish to support a charity was a shared goal and SpecialEffect was a charity that I’d seen at Comic Cons I’d attended in the past. I strongly believe that everyone has a right to be included and have access to everything the world has to offer. So, to be invited to be an Ambassador for a charity that is so passionate about supporting everyone to access and connect to gaming in ways they may never have thought possible makes me so proud.”
“As a Paralympian, and part of the Great Britain Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Squad between 2009 to 2018, I have always been a competitive person. I was born with only two fingers on each hand and no feet or ankles, yet this was never going to hold me back. I soon discovered sport and realised it was an ideal platform to show that my disability didn’t affect or bother me.”
“Since that moment I have played sport at every level, participated in numerous sports, and represented my country. Growing up I found gaming was a great way of relaxing, escaping from external pressures, but also allowing me to be competitive. When I was young, I managed using a joystick with my hands, but as computers/consoles evolved, so did the number of buttons, making it harder for me to compete on an equal level. Since I found someone to adapt a controller for me, so I can use my legs, I have been able to be competitive and can now win again!”
“I have since been introduced to SpecialEffect, and it was fantastic to find a charity which is enabling children to access gaming and have the opportunities I had growing up: to escape from the world around me, have fun, and play with my friends equally. I hope I can spread the good work of SpecialEffect and look forward to enabling fun to happen.”
YouTube and Twitch personality Will ‘QuickyBaby’ Frampton and his wife Tanya have been fantastic supporters of the charity and rallying the help of their generous community in fundraising for SpecialEffect.
“Games have enriched my life in ways immeasurable. I often find myself taking the countless worlds, only limited by imagination, for granted. Within these environments I have met amazing people with whom true friendships have developed; some so close that said bonds have transcended the virtual. I can’t envision my life without these experiences and accordingly it’s incomprehensible that others should not have the same opportunities I have been gifted. This is why I will always support SpecialEffect and the truly life enriching work they do”.
Adam is the Lead Community Manager at EA Studios Europe (DICE and Criterion Games at Electronic Arts titles) and runs amazing quiz nights with Lee Williams to support us.
“Knowing that SpecialEffect is out there helping to connect more people to video games, and helping to provide people with the same access to the experiences that I’ve shared my whole life, fills me with so much love. I’m proud to be helping support such an incredible cause, and grateful for the love expressed by so many that have shared in SpecialEffect’s ongoing story. Thank you for connecting extraordinary people to their friends, and family, and enabled them to make new connections through gaming!”
Henrietta’s been a great friend of SpecialEffect for many years.
“I’ve always been a big gamer, from the Gameboy Colour to the PS4. My progressive condition means I’m paralysed from the neck down. Therefore I found myself quickly unable to play my PS4. Luckily SpecialEffect gave me the opportunity to try chin controls and buddy buttons. Currently I play using a sip and puff controller. I’m grateful to SpecialEffect for encouraging me to get back to gaming.”
Ralph is the Founder and Creative Director of Playground Games.
“I first heard about SpecialEffect when they visited Playground a number of years ago. Everyone who saw their presentation was moved by the work they do and we’ve been enthusiastic supporters ever since. It’s easy to take playing video games for granted and difficult for us to really quantify the positive effect they have on our leisure time, our wellbeing and our friendships. The work SpecialEffect do to help people whose disabilities mean they can’t enjoy games, and the profound effect that work has on their lives, is humbling and I’m proud to do what I can to support them.”
Mike is a passionate and longstanding supporter of SpecialEffect who, among many other generous deeds, has organised a series of successful football-based fundraising events.
“I have been into playing computer games since I was about five years old. I really enjoy them but it has been difficult over the years playing some of the games. Since I knew about SpecialEffect they have helped to improve my gaming experience by modifying a controller. That’s why I’m be happy to help them and support them. When they asked me to become an ambassador, and I was pleased to become one.”
“I’ve always loved playing sports and, partly due to an overestimation of my talent, I have had a couple of serious injuries. One time I dislocated my knee cap playing American football and the other was a neck injury trying to escape from under a ruck in a rugby match. Both injuries left me lying on a slab in a cold corridor wondering if I’d ever be able to play again. Not being able to join the battle with my friends and teammates again. The thought of being excluded from doing something I enjoyed so much was devastating.”
“Fast forward about a decade and I was introduced to the wonderful people at SpecialEffect. When I was told of the work that they do modifying and creating bespoke controllers to enable people with disabilities to play games, I was immediately intrigued.”
“One thing that I find particularly gratifying about working in the video games industry is actually seeing fun being experienced on gamers’ faces. Seeing this fun on the faces of people that thought that this part of their lives was over for them is priceless. On top of this, seeing the effect this has on family members also is truly special.”
“The work that SpecialEffect do is incredible and when they asked me to become an ambassador for them, my decision took nanoseconds.”
Sjoerd is the Co-founder and COO at Gambitious.
“Like most kids I’ve been playing games since I was young. Gaming is fun for hours and it lets you escape reality for a while; you can be a superhero while sitting in a (wheel)chair. Everybody should be able to play games, no matter what disabilities you might have. SpecialEffect is determined to make gaming possible for all. A truly awesome cause of which I’m proud to be an Ambassador.”
“Having always been a keen sportsperson (athletics and swimming when younger and taking up ladies rugby later in life), it’s something I have always taken for granted. Becoming involved with SpecialEffect has been a very humbling but amazing experience: such a fantastic organisation changing lives daily. I was extremely honoured to be asked to be an Ambassador for SpecialEffect and I’m proud to support them in the future.”
Alison is a Director of Limelight Interactive
“SpecialEffect absolutely blew me away from the moment I met the inspirational people who work so tirelessly and selflessly to allow those with life-changing disabilities the opportunity to access video games, something we all take for granted. Seeing the look on the faces of those that the charity help really does speak a thousand words and is the greatest motivation to become involved… something that you never forget! I am very proud and truly honoured to be an Ambassador for SpecialEffect, and can’t wait to support the charity in whatever way I can”
Silvana is the European Operations Director at 505 Games.
“SpecialEffect work so tirelessly with people coping with disabilities, by giving them the opportunity to play video games by creating ingenious tech and modified hardware in their own homes. This is truly humbling and gives me all the motivation I need to support in whatever capacity I can, I’m truly proud to be part of their Ambassador team!”
John is the Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of IT Solutions & Services provider Virtual Effect.
“From the moment I became aware of SpecialEffect I have been eager to help this great cause in any way I can. With a family that love computer games, social media and all of the modern day luxuries that interactive technology offers, I fully appreciate the daily importance of this to so many generations; myself included! The talented and caring team at SpecialEffect who provide the ability to maintain continuity with such technology when people are faced with extremely difficult life-changing challenges are admirable. I am extremely proud to be an ambassador for this very special charity.”
Tommy has been a great supporter of the charity for several years.
“As a passionate gamer I know what it feels like to get that last minute winner on FIFA and what it’s like to overtake someone on the last corner to win a race on Gran Turismo, and SpecialEffect can make it possible for anyone to feel like this. Their hard work and determination to make a positive difference to disadvantaged people’s lives made it almost a no brainer to become an Ambassador for this incredible charity.”
Natalie has been in the games industry since 1991, specialising in marketing and communications for most of that time. After running her own agency (Identity Spark) from 2013-2020 she is now the Brand and Marketing Director of independent game developer Unit 2 Games.
“I’ve been a gamer since before we thought to call ourselves that and have very fond memories of my earliest experiences of Spectrum gaming and the Game-And-Watch devices. I never imagined back then that it would continue to be such a major presence in my life, not to mention the bedrock of my career, but it’s an incredible and exciting industry that doesn’t get nearly enough positive press.”
“I came across SpecialEffect’s work via Twitter and was amazed and impressed at the lengths people were going to in order to raise money, and it inspired me to find out more – the more I learnt, the more I was impressed. Now when the Xbox or the iPad is fired up in our house and I watch my own kids play, digital natives in the truest sense, it brings home in a very real way how the work that SpecialEffect do is invaluable – disabled people in the 21st Century need more than ever to feel as included and connected as their able-bodied peers and the SE team are doing just that.”
“I’d urge everyone to take a look at the amazing work that SpecialEffect do – they’re not only helping to change the image of a too-much-maligned industry but they’re genuinely changing lives into the bargain. I’m deeply honoured to have been asked to be an Ambassador and hope that I can play my small part to help them help others.”
Karl is the Director of CPC Finance.
“It’s a pleasure to be involved with SpecialEffect, as the work they do really makes a difference for people who would otherwise struggle to interact with other people. They really don’t get the recognition they deserve.”
Dan is the CEO of Fantastic Books Publishing.
“When we heard about SpecialEffect from one of our authors, Kate Russell, we were amazed at the wonderful and positive impact stories their technology and support had given to families. One story that really stuck in our minds was that of a little boy, his sister and their family. Due to his condition’s symptoms manifesting as quadriplegia, the little boy didn’t really have a very strong bond with his sister as they couldn’t ‘play’ together in the traditional sense. Thanks to the augmented gaming tech supplied by SpecialEffect, the little boy could now not only play competitive games with his sister but he would regularly kick her butt too!
From that point on, we were hooked on helping SpecialEffect expand their work in as many interesting and positive ways as they could. Both ourselves and Fantastic Books Publishing as a whole are proud and honoured to be helping such a worthy organisation.”
Gabi is Creative Liaison for Fantastic Books Publishing.
“When we heard about SpecialEffect from one of our authors, Kate Russell, we were amazed at the wonderful and positive impact stories their technology and support had given to families. One story that really stuck in our minds was that of a little boy, his sister and their family. Due to his condition’s symptoms manifesting as quadriplegia, the little boy didn’t really have a very strong bond with his sister as they couldn’t ‘play’ together in the traditional sense. Thanks to the augmented gaming tech supplied by SpecialEffect, the little boy could now not only play competitive games with his sister but he would regularly kick her butt too!
From that point on, we were hooked on helping SpecialEffect expand their work in as many interesting and positive ways as they could. Both ourselves and Fantastic Books Publishing as a whole are proud and honoured to be helping such a worthy organisation.”
Ken is the Manager of West Oxfordshire Motor Auction
“To imagine the lifestyle of a person with a physical or mental disability and who is unable to communicate with the outside and everyday world we live in is almost impossible. I have seen the difference that SpecialEffect makes to many individuals and have been humbled to see the first words of communication to a loved one via the amazing technology developed by all the team. To be associated with and stand alongside the SpecialEffect team in all they do is an honour.”
Andrew is the Managing Director of Oxford Products.
“I first became aware of SpecialEffect when we became sponsors and competitors in the Twin Town Challenge, and was immediately smitten with the wonderful work of the amazing people at this charity, it really struck a chord. SpecialEffect has been Oxford Products’ charity of choice ever since and our whole team have really enjoyed coming up with inventive ways of raising funds for them, including my first participation in the 2019 Oxford Half Marathon.”
Paul, Business Director at Good Shepherd Entertainment, has been of immense help to us during our kickstarter campaigns.
“To me the sight of the genuine smiles and the happiness that SpecialEffect brings to disabled gamers (be it infants or adults) is really heart warming. SpecialEffect is an incredible and effective charity that is changing lives through video games. I am truly honoured to have been made an ambassador.”
Jamie, is Member Relationships Director at the Nationwide Business Society, has been a fundraising tour-de-force for us, including throwing himself off the top of a hospital in the name of SpecialEffect. Luckily he was tied to an abseiling instructor.
Kit is the Compatibility, Accessibility and Performance QA Lead at Frontier.
“I’ve always believed that games should be enjoyed by everyone, and I couldn’t be prouder to stand alongside SpecialEffect in their mission to make that a reality. The impact they have already had on the world both to support and raise awareness of disabled gamers cannot be understated; I’ll always fight to keep their work going.”
Isaac has been a fantastic supporter of the charity since it’s inception.
“I have a rare disability called Limb pelvic hypo aplasia. I have also had many operations on my back due to me having curvature of the spine. And on top of all that I have almost continuous leg pain. Even though I have these troubles I consider myself a gamer as I play videogames with my feet. I have known SpecialEffect for a while now and I feel that their goal to help children with physical disabilities is a step forward for their lives. Gaming is a growing technology and if they can use this then we can all be part of the gaming community.”
Lauren Haxell is Global Social Media Director at Entertainment One
“I’d been aware of SpecialEffect for a couple of years, but it wasn’t until I met them at the opening of the Games Room in 2016 that I truly understood the magic they create. The impact they have on people’s lives is astounding and I’m proud to be an Ambassador. They are also a super genuine team, and working alongside them is a pleasure.”
Martin has been a fantastic supporter of the charity since its inception in 2007.
Nick is the Senior PR Specialist at Razer.
“SpecialEffect has been my go-to charity ever since I discovered them at an Insomnia event too many years ago. Since then, I’ve supported them at every opportunity, either through direct fundraising, such as a 24-hour Rock Band session, the GameBlast18 24-hour gaming challenge or with kit support direct from Razer. To be an Ambassador for such an awesome charity, run by the loveliest bunch of folk you could ever meet, is a humbling honour. And so I’ll humbly not shut up about Special Effect and the fantastic work they do.”
Tom is a Co-Founder and Director of Digital Sports Mgmt.
“I first became aware of SpecialEffect when I worked at EA Sports. I was amazed by the stories and innovation and it is just incredible to see how SpecialEffect uses technology and gaming to give people with disabilities new experiences and new means to improve their lives. Put simply, it is inspiring, and I hope now as an Ambassador I can help inspire more people to get involved and support this incredible charity.”
Stephen is a video game marketing consultant at HeyStephenHey.
“I am constantly humbled by the work of SpecialEffect. Games have always been a big part of my life and I love being a gamer, but SpecialEffect take games to a whole new level, beyond entertainment, to truly transformational and life enhancing experiences. This is why I am so happy to represent them in any way I can.”
Sam is the Head of Partnerships at National Student Esports.
“As an avid gamer, I couldn’t imagine losing access to a hobby I’m so passionate about. The work that Dr Mick and the team do is amazing, and I’m fortunate to be able to provide support to SpecialEffect through fundraising activities no matter which company I’m with.”
Rich is the Founder and CTO of iRepairTech. He and his family have been long term passionate supporters of SpecialEffect.
“I have been aware of SpecialEffect for many years -overwhelmed and in awe of what they do and how they support so many people. Being involved with a number of events and spending time with the charity we fast forward to 2020 and you realise SpecialEffect is far more than your traditional charity. it’s a team, a super amazing team that dedicate all they do to helping others! To play a small part in this is extremely rewarding and I hope I have the opportunity to do a lot more with SpecialEffect other than to just raise awareness and funds. Thank you for all that you do.”
Shaz was the founder of www.flipbookproductions.co.uk which has been an integral part of SpecialEffect since it was began. He has supported us on countless occasions with fundraising, event demos and awareness-raising.
“Having grown up in a world where Nintendo and SEGA were two words that would instantly make my head turn, it is easy to say that gaming has always been a massive part of my life. From the days of Street Fighter 2 and Super Mario World, to today’s Gran Turismo, there’s no comparison between the decades of gaming. However with the evolution of games comes with the ever-increasing number of buttons, moves and the need for to be faster, which can be difficult for someone with a disability.
I was only 25 when I entered my first international online gaming contest, the QuickSnooker World Championship. I think it was unofficial at the time and there were no prizes up for grabs but I was so excited that someone with quite a severe disability such as me could compete against others around the world! That is why I think SpecialEffect is an amazing charity. They focus on the quality of life of an individual which is something that is often overlooked for people with disabilities. And it is not just about gaming but sometimes the simple feat of being able to communicate.
Since meeting up with SpecialEffect I am now not limited to a particular console or a specific type of game and I have managed to see the huge difference they make to some very special individuals. This is why I find it an honour being able to represent them as an Ambassador.”
Craig has been a valued supporter for many years, not only personally but also through his leadership roles at Reading RFC.
“Once you have had the pleasure of Mick Donegan’s company and listening to him talk so passionately about the incredible work that the SpecialEffect team carry out, why wouldn’t anyone wish to be part of this fantastic charity and help them continue to deliver such remarkable work.”
Nikki’s been a supporter of the charity for many years.
“I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember and always looked forward to the idea of sharing my passion for video games with my kids. Unfortunately when my eldest child was born he suffered a severe brain injury and as he grew older it became apparent that many things, including gaming, wouldn’t be an option for him.
Then at one EGX many moons ago I discovered the wonderful Special Effect charity. Their input has been life changing for my son Chase. He’s now been happily gaming for several years and I get to game alongside him, which is something I never thought I would get to do.
I am thrilled to be an Ambassador for Special Effect and continue to spread the word and raise awareness for the vital and life changing service that they provide for so many people.”
Simon is the founder and Studio Director of Red Kite Games.
“We’ve been supporters of SpecialEffect at Red Kite since we started the studio more than eight years ago, and having witnessed the strong relationship the goodhearted, passionate people at the organisation foster with the development community both in Yorkshire and beyond, I can honestly say that it’s the only charity that we’ve ever wanted to get behind.”
Jamie is the founder of Slingshot Cartel and Chief Creative Officer at Mythical Games. He has been magnificent supporter of SpecialEffect over many years.
Jim is Director of Animation at Rockstar Games.
Jim and his family have been involved with special needs for several generations. His grandfather was a teacher of the blind and his mother worked with physically disabled nursery children. Having spent more than 20 years making video games, Jim is delighted to be associated with SpecialEffect.
Kathryn has been an amazing supporter of SpecialEffect for many years.
Kelly Jean is a UK cosplayer and video game streamer on Twitch.
“I used to be a health care assistant and I worked for a girl with muscular dystrophy, who I introduced to Special Effect as she loved to play games with her younger siblings but was pretty limited. I’ve since fundraised multiple times for the charity, via print sales and Twitch streams and hope to do even more in the future.”
Alex is a EMEA Partner Manager at Slack.
“Having failed my entrance exam to NASA’s Space Program I had to rethink my career ambitions at an early age. Fortunately my degree in History meant a career in IT sales was the obvious choice. I currently work for Slack and previously at Dropbox. It was via the Dropbox for Good initiative that I came into contact with SpecialEffect. Amazing charity and people. It’s an honour to support the incredible work they do!”
Kolo’s support over the years has been invaluable.
“Gaming and gaming communities have enriched and changed my life in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. I saw first-hand the incredible difference that accessibility can make when I studied nursing, so when I learnt that SpecialEffect made it possible for people to access gaming I knew I had to help! It’s been such a joy for my community and I to support Special Effect. Recently, I’ve developed my own physical health issues, making it hard for me to use traditional hand controls, and I’m incredibly grateful for SpecialEffect’s support in helping me get back into gaming.”
Sonia is a Director of Opendoorz Ltd – Business Networking in Oxfordshire.
“The fabulous team at SpecialEffect revolutionise lives through the technology they’ve created and adapted. It’s an honour to be part of such an amazing team – I very much hope through business connections and crazy fundraising ideas I can support them as they continue to grow.”
Chris is Director of Marketing for Marston’s Beer Company.
“I became aware of SpecialEffect through our Wychwood Brewery brand… or more to the point the enthusiasm of Nick Streeter! The Wychwood Brewery has adopted SpecialEffect as our chosen charity. The work that Dr Mick and the team do is truly humbling and possibly best described as selfless. To bring joy and happiness through video gaming is amazing to see and once witnessed you are compelled to help and support wherever possible.”
Darren is a test Developer at Configit.
“Every year, myself and the rest of the Gaming For Others team raise money and awareness for SpecialEffect through a gruelling three-day gaming marathon. We’re consistently humbled and delighted by the generosity of the donators who want to see us do well and want to see SpecialEffect continue their excellent work.”
Tanja’s previous roles included the management of events at Jagex Games Studio.
“I first had the chance to meet the wonderful people of SpecialEffect as part of Jagex’s live streamed 24-hour games marathon for the charity’s GameBlast fundraiser in 2015, where I was mainly responsible for sponsorship management. In 2016, I was able to extend that role and thanks to the support of our games’ incredible communities and a dedicated team of Jagex employees, we were able to raise $152,000 for the charity!
For people, especially children, in devastating health situations, gaming can be a big relief and a great distraction from their daily lives. I am delighted to see the direct impact and difference we have made so far by coming together and supporting SpecialEffect’s extraordinary efforts, and I am proud to take up a role as Ambassador.”
Samantha Key worked in the video games industry for ten years for Acclaim, Konami and Microsoft. After leaving the industry in 2009, she changed career to become a Personal Trainer, but kept faith with her gaming roots to raise funds for SpecialEffect over the intervening years.
“I’ve seen first hand the joy and pleasure that SpecialEffect bring to gamers through their work. It really was a no-brainer for me to put all my fundraising efforts into such an incredible organisation and I’m so proud to be an ambassador. Being able to promote the charity to new audiences and increase awareness is something I care greatly about and I genuinely believe SpecialEffect deserve all the exposure they get, because it is such an inspiring cause.”
Lee is the Marketing & PR Director at Bandai Namco Entertainment. He has worked in the games industry for nearly 20 years and has launched major hit-titles through GT Interactive, Infogrames, Atari and Bandai Namco.
“SpecialEffect is the one charity in the industry that I have been very passionate about since it started and supported as much as possible. To enable everyone to have the opportunity to experience videogames and technology is very important and the work SpecialEffect put in alongside all the fun raisers allow everyone to escape from normal life and have fun. Having fun is part of our DNA and it’s important to help others less fortunate this opportunity by working on unique experiences allowing a level playing field.”
Alex was one of the first people we helped, and has been a magnificent Ambassador for us over the lifetime of the charity. A video of him playing Minecraft with a specialised gaming setup went viral in 2014.
“SpecialEffect is more than just a charity which helps people play videogames. They change lives. Through their knowledge and expertise, people like myself can now join in on the fun and play with friends on an even playing field, experiencing all the benefits of social interaction. It may be hard for some to imagine, but being included in such activities makes a huge and positive difference in our lives.”
Dan is the Co-Founder of RKG Productions Ltd.
“I’ve run 10K for SpecialEffect many times now, which given my natural distaste for running can only be down to the consistently inspiring and unique work they do.”
Patrick was, most recently, the International Brand Manager for 2k.
“SpecialEffect is a wonderful charity that makes a difference in so many people’s lives. Providing disabled gamers with a form of escapism that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them is such a noble thing. It’s an honour to be a SpecialEffect Ambassador and I look forward to helping out in any way that I can for years to come.”
Fee is the Director of GaMaYo and Industry Specialist at Leeds City College.
“As a game developer it has always been important to me that everyone should be able to enjoy the games we make. SpecialEffect makes that happen and that is why it is incredibly important to me to support SpecialEffect in any way I can. Just seeing the joy and happiness the ability to play games brings to people is such a uplifting feeling to us all and makes making games a wonderful thing to do.”
Kate lives in the town of Le Touquet in France.
“I was introduced to SpecialEffect and their enthusiastic team when Le Touquet offered to host a fundraising event, the Twin Town Challenge. A fun-filled weekend gave great results and six months later, SpecialEffect generously donated equipment to our charity run ‘afternoon school’ for autistic children in Le Touquet.
Not being of the gaming generation it took me a while to understand the impact SpecialEffect make, but seeing technology opening doors to friendship, communication, fun and inclusion is inspirational. Vive SpecialEffect!”
Clare is a retired Speech and Language Therapist.
“I had the privilege of working for several years with Dr Mick Donegan. When he called to ask if I could help him with his charity SpecialEffect, I was honoured to lend my support. It is not just the life-changing work they do, but the way they carry it out that makes such a difference. It is inspiring for me to play a small part in this charity.”
Elspeth has been a valued supporter for many years.
“I’ve been inspired by the work SpecialEffect do. It’s not only amazingly clever but it actually changes the quality of life for hundreds of people year on year. It’s been fantastic to work with the SpecialEffect team on a number of fundraising events that I have organised, and I’ve also taken part in a couple of races as part of the team. It’s always been a pleasure to support such a great cause organised by such a lovely bunch of people! Keep up the good work guys!”
Geraldine became a health therapist after an extensive business career.
“Having two healthy sons myself who grew up having hours of fun paying computer games (going right back to the Commodore 64 with educational games for counting and spelling such as Pirates and Snowman and basic table-tennis!!) I feel the work SpecialEffect does in bringing this amount of fun and pleasure to others is amazing. I first met Nick Streeter when a leaflet dropped on my desk about what SpecialEffect were doing. Being in the fortunate position of running a charity I went to see him to find out how we could help. Nick’s passion and dedication for what he does was so contagious that I left our meeting with a plan to donate 0000’s rather than the 000’s that I had in mind originally. It is an honour to be associated with SpecialEffect and especially this team of amazing people.”
Mike is a hugely valued supporter who has provided essential help to the charity in its first few few years.
Rob is Vice President and General Manager at EA Partners and EA Originals.
“SpecialEffect occupy a unique position through the service they provide to children and adults with disabilities; allowing them to access the worlds of interactive entertainment in ways that were not thought possible before to bring engagement, involvement and a genuinely enhanced quality of life. As devices evolve and technologies advance, bringing touch, gesture, voice, gaze and brain-computer interfaces into the realms of gaming, SpecialEffect are at the centrepoint of this revolution, moulding and adapting these experiences for children who otherwise would not be able to participate and proving that games can be a force for good. I have seen the delight and enjoyment that SpecialEffect’s work brings first-hand with my own son Henry and so am a huge proponent of the amazing work they continue to perform.”
Ed is the European Community Lead at Bethesda Softworks.
“Getting to work with SpecialEffect has been such an incredible, humbling and rewarding experience. We’ve seen a lot of amazing contributions and support from the Elite Dangerous and Planet Coaster communities, but their generosity and positivity during our 24 hour Christmas livestream in aid of SpecialEffect was truly astonishing.
It just goes to show what an incredible thing the guys at SpecialEffect are doing… they inspire so many people to be the best possible versions of themselves. Thanks for helping to bring so much to joy to so many people’s lives.”
David is Managing Director at Gamer Events Ltd and Head of Events at ReedPop UK.
Tony’s a fantastic supporter of the charity and plays a mean game of golf.
“As video games have developed and become more advanced, so has the control interface. The need to press more buttons/triggers within these games meant I wasn’t able to play them. Thanks to SpecialEffect and their understanding of my needs, I now have my controller linked to the Xbox Adaptive Controller and five buttons I use with my feet. Being able to use these buttons with my feet has opened up the whole catalogue of games to me that were previously impossible, like Call of Duty, Batman Arkham Knight and Star Wars Battlefront. They’re now now playable and enjoyable. I’m not very good, but at least I can play them now!
With SpecialEffect’s help, these controls have also made the games I could play a lot easier too. This has meant that when I play FIFA or NHL with my son, he hasn’t got quite the advantage he once had. Now I can hit all the buttons I need to, the balance of gaming power in our house is levelling out nicely.”
Michele was previously the Centre Manager at Hexagon Business Centres.
“I first became aware of SpecialEffect as part of the organising team for Twin Town Challenge. It’s wonderful to be involved with this great charity which is all about putting fun and enjoyment into so many people’s lives.”
Dan is the Head of Comms at Insert Coin.
“It’s easy to forget that something as simple as picking up a controller and playing a videogame can be impossible for some people. But gaming is an escape from the everyday that everyone should be able to enjoy equally. The team at SpecialEffect work tirelessly to create bespoke systems that open up whole universes to people who would otherwise never be able to experience the joy, independence or satisfaction of playing games. They continue to show the world that gaming can be an overwhelmingly positive force for good – by improving the lives of people living with physical and mental disabilities.”
Neale is Event Manager at Ubisoft.
“SpecialEffect have helped hundreds of gamers around the world to be able to experience their favourite games. To be able to help their cause and help them enrich more gamers lives should be the goal of everyone in this industry.”
Claire has been a great friend and supporter of the charity for many years.
“Throughout my education, the use of assistive technology has helped me overcome the challenges posed by my disability in order to become a researcher in High Energy Physics at the University of Cambridge. However, being able to have fun and play games is just as important (if not more so) as being facilitated to achieve academically and in my experience can be completely overlooked. It can be extremely frustrating and isolating when you can only watch your friends play computer games because you have no way to physically access the game. This is why the work of SpecialEffect is so crucial to enhancing the lives of people who have disabilities and I am proud to have the opportunity to raise awareness about this amazing charity.”
Bo is the former Community Content Manager at Frontier.
“Working with SpecialEffect has been one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences of my life. We are lucky to have the support of two incredible gaming communities (Planet Coaster and Elite Dangerous) who frequently come together to raise money for this wonderful cause. Seeing up close what kind of a difference they can make in someone’s life is amazing.”
Rich is Co-founder and Director of Well Played Games.
“I first learnt about SpecialEffect while working at Exient in Leamington spa. Since then we have completed multiple 24 hour board game marathons to fund raise, each one growing from the last. The work they do is amazing, and has such a positive impact on the lives of those they help. Helping to give people their independence and allow for the escapism and entertainment games provide is invaluable. The passion everyone has at SE is inspiring and their enthusiasm is infectious. It is an incredible honour to be involved in something as worthy as SE and I hope they go on to grow and flourish. I urge everyone to check out their work and the good they do.”
Matt is the SVP for Business Development at Seriously Digital Entertainment, leading their platform, animation and consumer products business for Best Fiends. He has worked at the intersection of digital and media during his career, from big Hollywood studios to political media consulting.
“I — and we here at Seriously — were lucky enough to work with Special Effect around ‘One Special Day.’ Honestly, I took gaming for granted, in the sense that I didn’t pause to think about how empowering gaming could be to a disabled person. The ability to run in a game of FIFA, the ability to chat and play with friends around the world, the ability to affect the world around you — once I stopped to think about it, it made me realize how important Special Effect’s work is. I have two young boys and if they were ever to find themselves in a similar situation, I would count myself lucky to have somebody like Dr Mick, and the whole Special Effect team, looking after them.”
Deborah is the Founder of Games for Good. She works with long-term One Special Day partner Space Ape Games.
“I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with the wonderful team at SpecialEffect for the last four years, on One Special Day and other industry events they’ve given their unique and sincere voice to. They are ALL HEART and I’m continually inspired and humbled by the passion and dedication they bring to all of their incredible work. These guys are second-to-none at creating and fostering community for all gamers.”
Claire has been an amazing supporter of the charity since its inception in 2007.
James is the Managing Director of Endeane Ltd and He was also a former Mayor of the town of Witney, Oxfordshire. He is currently the Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council.
“Being involved with SpecialEffect has been a fantastic experience and really fun. I’m really happy to tell anyone who will listen about the amazing stuff these guys do.
I first came across SpecialEffect whilst serving my first year as Mayor of Witney via an invitation from Witney Rugby Club to the 2010 launch of Walk4Matt. There was a demonstration of the work being done and the benefit it was having for the people involved. One story really touched me that evening and I asked if SpecialEffect could be one of my nominated charities. I am no longer Mayor but continue to support the charity in any way I can”
Robbie has been an amazing supporter of SpecialEffect since its inception in 2007.
Sarah has been a fantastic supporter of SpecialEffect for many years.
Nick is the CEO and owner of the ProLabs Group, a leading global provider of compatible network infrastructure and connectivity products. He is also a director and part-owner of Hardware Group, a leading supplier of IT solutions and services.
“I’ve known Dr Mick Donegan for many years and became increasingly aware of the inspirational work he was doing at SpecialEffect, so I was very motivated to help. My first significant contributions were to help raise funds by completing the charity’s Three Peaks Challenge in 2009, and the Athens Marathon in 2012.”
“I’ve been really impressed by the way that SpecialEffect has developed, by the accolades it consistently and justifiably wins, and by the uniting spirit it engenders amongst a diverse group of people who are all keen to help.”
Dave is Internal Communications for the UK Ministry of Defence, and was previously Editor in Chief for This Is Xbox. His fundraising runs have included running as Sonic The Hedgehog and Batman at the British 10k, and the London Marathon.
“I’ll never forget the first time I met the SpecialEffect team at Eurogamer, it was clear to see how passionate they were and despite everything I saw that day it was my time with the team that stuck in my mind. The opportunities they provide to all sorts of people is amazing and I just knew as a fellow gamer I had to do something to help.”
Mick Morris has been working in the Games Industry for over 20 years. He was MD of Audiomotion Studios, a world leading performance capture company for over ten years, producing animation for many movies and videogames.
Katrina is the Head of Talent Acquisition at Mediatonic Games and a games, tech and entertainment recruitment specialist.
“Working with SpecialEffect over the years has been both a pleasure and privilege. Never feels like a chore to help a charity with a huge heart, great determination and a creative head. I will never stop spreading the word be it jumping from buildings, baking cakes, waxing legs or driving bangers. SpecialEffect Rock!”
Alex Moyet is the Founder & Director of Amcade.
“I’m in constant awe of the passion, dedication and energy of the SpecialEffect team – they’re genuinely making a real difference to the lives of so many and I’m so proud to support them.”
Gav is a Video Producer at IGN.
“The work that Special Effect do consistently makes me happy and proud to be even a small part of the games industry. I’m absolutely honoured to be an ambassador for the charity and with a bit of luck this won’t put people off supporting you.”
Charlotte is the Trade Events Manager at gamesindustry.biz
“Being lucky enough to work with the fantastic people at Special Effect has been one of the true privileges and honours of my career. I have been able to work with the SpecialEffect team on our events to share our platform to amplify their message, and it is always such a humbling experience to see the work they tirelessly do behind the scenes to make the world a happier place for the people they help.”
Steve is Head of Audit at Shaw Gibbs Ltd.
“I first got involved with SpecialEffect in 2015 when Shaw Gibbs was one of the Twin Town 2016 sponsors (I regret not being involved in 2014!). Since that time I have been amazed and moved at the fantastic work that SpecialEffect does, especially with children. The drive of all the team is humbling, especially Dr Mick of course. I particularly love the way the charity enables people to play computer games against others on a level playing field (giving disadvantaged kids the thrill of the win!) – this helps people to build or maintain friendships which might otherwise be impossible.”
Ben is the Founder of slicedbread and has been a fantastic supporter of the charity for many years.
Jane is a Director at slicedbread and has been a fantastic supporter of SpecialEffect for many years.
Ken’s infectious personality and MC skills have been invaluable for us at many fundraising events. He’s occasionally mistaken for Daniel Craig, and regularly for Harold Bishop from Neighbours.
“My super power is a big gob. I’m asked to auction stuff, present stuff and generally whip up people into a state of helpless generosity toward SpecialEffect.”
Andy Nuttall, Director of That Running Guy Ltd (who produce the ULTRA magazine) and Senior Producer at Supermassive Games Ltd. He is a dedicated ultra marathon runner. He’s a remarkable fundraiser whose achievements include completing 100 mile and 145 mile runs to raise funds for us.
Peter is the Managing Director of Shaw Gibbs.
“After meeting the SpecialEffect team as part of the Twin Town Challenge, Shaw Gibbs decided to support them as our chosen charity for 2017. We carried out a number of fundraising events through the year and were very proud to have sponsored the homecoming of Twin Town 2017. We got to know Dr Mick, Tom, Nick and the importance of this charity very well throughout this period. We have now decided to enter and sponsor the last Twin Town (2020) and will support SpecialEffect again though our firm-wide fundraising activity. The work that SpecialEffect do is humbling and an inspiration to me personally, I am honoured to be an Ambassador for them.”
Neil is MD of Shawcity Ltd.
“I met Nick Streeter from SpecialEffect back in 2012 and he told me about what this amazing team of people did. At the time he was looking for some volunteers to compete in the London 10km and I didn’t hesitate in signing up. When I went to see the SpecialEffect offices, then I truly understood what a difference these people actually make. The charity is motivational and inspiring and I’m very proud to be an ambassador alongside such an incredible group of people.”
George Osborn is Head of Communications at Ukie and was the Founder of Go Editorial. He also co-founded Gamerbake.
“I support SpecialEffect because I think the work they do helping people with disabilities to play games is fantastic. It seems like such a small thing, but it is clear from every time I’ve met someone who has benefitted from their brilliant technology just how important the support of SpecialEffect is to them. Games are the most wonderfully inclusive medium around and I hope I can continue to help the charity to prove that point so fabulously.”
Eliie is an award-winning television presenter and journalist.
“SpecialEffect is an incredible charity, helping people with disabilities enhance their lives through video games and custom-built technology. Their tireless efforts to widen the world of gaming have brought joy to so many people, and I’m honoured to be an Ambassador for such profoundly life-changing work.”
Jenn, the Product Marketing Manager at Xbox, is a much-valued supporter of the charity.
“Gaming has been such a cornerstone of my life. I am continually inspired by SpecialEffect’s work to ensure gaming is both inclusive and accessible so that gaming can bring more and more people immense joy. With gaming becoming one of the main mediums for social interaction during these unprecedented times, I am so thankful for the work SpecialEffect does. I loved having the ability to personally support by running the Virtual London 10K this year, even starting at the official start time which happened to be 1am for me!”
Neil is the Account Director and resident videogame industry expert at Escape Technology.
“For over a decade both I and the Escape Technology team have dedicated our energies to supporting the games industry to create the videogames that players know and love. Extending that enjoyment to help people with disabilities have both fun and freedom is an incredible thing – which is why we couldn’t be more delighted to support the life-changing work that SpecialEffect do.”
Hollie is the Social Media and Community Coordinator at Ripstone.
“Video games play a huge part in both my personal and work life, so to me SpecialEffect are real life superheroes. I’ve been lucky enough to work with the team over the past few years and have heard first hand about the life-changing opportunities they provide to make video games accessible. I’ve also done countless ridiculous things on stream as part of One Special Day and GameBlast… and I don’t intend to stop any time soon! It’s a real honour to be a SpecialEffect Ambassador alongside such an inspiring group of people and I’m proud to be supporting the gamers’ charity.”
David is the Director of Fine Thinking Ltd.
“The joy of SpecialEffect. It’s about fun and quality of life. It’s not about medical need, or day to day challenges, it’s about your free time and by extension, using fun as a means to feel good. Just ‘existing’ is no fun. Having a ruddy good laugh, now THAT’S why we all work so hard.”
Josh works in the UK public sector.
“I am a lifelong gamer and have been supporting SpecialEffect since being part of a team of Elite Dangerous players who summited a volcano in 2018, and more recently organised a team to run the Virtual London 10k. Video games have brought me so much joy, this is something that should be accessible to everyone.”
Paul has been a fantastic friend and supporter of the charity for many years.
Playing computer games has always been a massive part of my life. In 2012 I went through a life-changing event and now have a spinal cord injury. I thought I’d never play games again until I met the amazing people at SpecialEffect. Thanks to them I can still enjoy games as much as I did before my spinal injury.