Northern Ireland Council

Our MS Society Northern Ireland Council works on behalf of people living with MS in Northern Ireland.

Council members work alongside our staff team in Northern Ireland, as well as with our local groups to stop MS.

The Council is ultimately accountable to our Board of Trustees.

Our meeting dates for 2019 are:

  • Monday 4 February
  • Monday 8 April
  • Monday 5 August
  • Monday 14 October

Meetings (with the exception of occasional confidential items) are open to MS Society members. If you’d like to attend please contact Ann Wilson.

Meet our Northern Ireland Council members:

Catherine Doran (Chair)

I was diagnosed with relapsing MS in March 2009. I’m incredibly passionate about the work we do and the wide remit we cover, especially in our research.

I’m a member of the Foyle local group and I’m a huge advocate of keeping in touch with others living locally with MS.

As a young woman I try and engage with others who may need help coming to terms with their diagnosis. I have a blog - alifecopingwithms.blogspot.com - and continually keep in touch with others affected by MS on Twitter - @catdoran.

Theresa Leavy (Vice Chair)

I have two daughters - Melissa and Kiera. Melissa was diagnosed with MS in 2012 at 12 and wants a cure before she is 35.

As a parent you do all you can to protect your children - I can't take MS from Melissa, but I can and will fundraise, volunteer and raise awareness.

Melissa relapsed six times within the first 18 months. Since 2012 we’ve raised over £7,500 and appeared on Radio Ulster Appeal for the MS Society. Melissa has also won the MS Society Young Person of the year award in 2014 and the Daily Mirror’s Hero of Youth Award for Fundraiser of the Year.

Ivan Prue (Vice Chair)

I’m 42 and have an aggressive relapsing form of MS. I was officially diagnosed in 2009. It was a hard pill to swallow because all I could think of was the negative side of the disease.

I’m passionate about raising awareness among newly diagnosed young people, their families and everyone who meets me. My passion is exercise, keeping fit and enjoying life. It's infectious!

It’s a real honour to be part of the Northern Ireland Council. I want to carry on reaching out and helping young folk and their families who are living with MS.

Siobhan Allister

I’ve lived with MS for seven years. I've volunteered with the MS Society for six years and I’m passionate about beating MS.

As a member of the Northern Ireland Council I've raised awareness in schools and campaigned at events such as the All Parliamentary Group and the Prescription Charge campaign. I also provide support to people with MS as a Support Volunteer.

At the beginning of 2015 I helped organise a successful 'American Country Night' fundraiser with the Fermanagh local group, raising £6,500. Over the years my son and I have raised £59,744.64 in total for the MS Society.

Lynne Armstrong

I’ve had MS for almost 50 years. Throughout my 20s and 30s I struggled to combine my teaching career with looking after two young children and never feeling well. I felt lonely, isolated and frightened.

I first came to the MS Centre when I was told about the weekly yoga classes. They were a revelation because I found companionship and realised that, despite having secondary progressive MS and using a wheelchair, I could still participate. MS can be an isolating condition where friends drift away and I, as a campaigner, am determined that no one should feel they have to cope alone.

Jennifer Coulter

Since being diagnosed with MS in October 2015 I’ve played an active role in the MS Society.

I feel passionately about the benefits of diet and exercise and keeping positive outlook. I’m actively involved in fundraising for the MS Society. For a recent MS Society Gala Ball my husband and I collected ten raffle and auction prizes. I also frequently participate in 10k runs.

I regularly speak in public to raise awareness of MS and share my experiences of running a business with a disability.

Simon Matchett

I was diagnosed with relapsing MS in November 2012, aged 32. I studied Criminology and Law in Edinburgh and worked as a Practice Manager in an optometrists until my MS became too difficult. I returned to Northern Ireland in July 2013.

I joined the Ards and North Down Group committee in early 2015 and was voted in as Chair in April 2016. I ‘m also a Support Volunteer.

I play an active role in fundraising and information days and I’m passionate about raising awareness of the MS.

Peter McReynolds

I was diagnosed with MS at 26.

My background is in human rights law and politics and I currently work for a well-known politician in Belfast.

I want to make sure those living with MS are represented and have access to best treatments. Moreover, I want to make sure their families are provided with all the support necessary. I also want to change the common perception of MS and increase the general public’s knowledge about the condition

Derek McCambley

I'm 56, I'm from Bangor and I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2005.

My work background is in the voluntary sector, and I’ve had  range of management and development roles.

I've been volunteering with the MS Society since my diagnosis. That was the best move I made following the turmoil of my diagnosis. I've gained a lot from this and being part of the Northern Ireland allows me to give something back to the MS Society.

I believe passionately in the aims of the MS Society and have represented it on various bodies, most recently the MS Service Specification Working Group.

Ian Poultney

My personal experience of MS began as a child, when my mother was diagnosed with MS.

My younger brother and I became my mum’s carers and we received little support from support agencies. However we did receive support from the local MS Society, which included financial support for the purchase of a mobility scooter. My mum participated in clinical trials for treatment of MS and we all lived in hope that a cure for MS would be found.

In my professional life I’ve been the chairman of the Board of Trustees of two charities - a children’s charity and another providing rehabilitation to injured colleagues. I work at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Andrew Taylor

In 2016, my mum passed away after living with MS for a long time. I decided I wanted to give something back in recognition of the support that my mum and dad received from the MS Society and health services.

I've worked in the pharmaceutical industry throughout my career, and some of my team worked on the development of the MS drug ocrelizumab. Playing my part in ensuring as many people as possible get access to life-improving treatments is very important to me.

I want to support members of the local MS community to maximise their own potential and in turn maximise the benefit to those living with, and affected by MS.

Philippa Watson

I was diagnosed with MS in June 2017, aged 24.

It can be easy for people to fall into negative thoughts about MS and what the future might hold. As a council member, I want to encourage others to focus on the good and not let a diagnosis of MS change their expectations on what they can achieve in life.

I’m passionate about our campaigns, giving a voice to those with MS in Northern Ireland.

I have MS, but MS does not have me.

Become a National Council member

We are looking for new volunteers to join our national councils. Our volunteers are the backbone of the MS Society and you would be joining a highly committed team of everyday superheroes who are helping our vision become a reality.

You can apply for our national council vacancies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.