Who are we?


ADAPT Gateway’s team is almost entirely staffed by disabled individuals, with the exception of wives/husbands and a few other professionals with backgrounds connected to our work.

Years since disability range from 4 years to 57 years and as we grow as a company, we will continue to draw on the insight of people at all stages of impairment. Peer-to-peer support will always remain at the heart of our projects, so that anything we do is informed by lived experience.

Below are bios for directors and board members but there are many other members who are consultancy experts who are all disabled. ADAPT Gateway plans to be at the very least a 95% disability employer as we grow.

Our goal is to train our peers to become consultants in disability issues until we have people ready and willing to teach and support others through peer-to-peer training and deliver our consultancy and training packages all over the UK.

Our Team

Founder, CEO & Researcher & Peer Support Officer
Dr Gareth Thomas – Consultant Psychologist CPsychol – who is a Doctor of Philosophy and has been recognised for his work by the Spinal Injuries Association by receiving national awards for his research. He has been featured in articles from Blesma: The magazine for limbless veternans, Enable Magazine, Posability Magazine, Irvin Mitchell Solicitors and Wales Online, and also radio. Gareth is a veteran and was injured during his army service and became paralysed 27 years ago. Gareth has worked with veterans suffering from PTSD and people with SCI. He developed the very first peer support group for people with SCI that was facilitated by a person with SCI.

Director & Peer Support Officer
Tony Stephenson – After becoming spinal injured himself post T.B. Meningitis, he became a Community Peer Support Officer with the Spinal Injuries Association, volunteering at Rookwood hospital, the hospital in which he did his own rehab. From 1 day a week at first he ended up working full-time all-over Wales, Bristol and Gloucestershire, for the best part of 20 years.

Director of Research
Dr Paul M. Smith, PhD, FBASES, FHEA, Senior Lecturer, Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences (Cardiff Met University). Paul will work directly as our research liaison with Cardiff Metropolitan University. He has worked with Paralympians, The Invictus Games and alongside Help4Hero’s. Although he is not disabled, he has spent over 25 years supporting people who are disabled to improve their health and fitness.

Director of Marketing and HR
Nathan Walmsley is a veteran and has been in business for over 25 years and has vast experience in structuring and marketing a business. He is also a veteran and has been around disability most of his adult life. He knows, from first-hand experience, how it affects the everyday lives of those that have a disability. He feels that real change is needed within the UK and wants to do all he can to achieve that goal.

Christine Thomas is an advisor and veteran who managed a company for several years and has since retired. I suffer with heart problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, angina and much more. I am a part of this organisation to try and make the health system more user friendly and I hope to stop the fragmented way in which patients are dealt with.

Chair Trustee, Peer Support Officer & Health and Well-being Consultant
Dr Georgina Budd, is a young doctor currently practicing in the UK. After an accident in 2017 resulted in a spinal cord injury she fought to keep her medical career and raise awareness about disability issues and advocate for improved mental health and wellbeing resources. In addition to her clinical work as a fellow in accident and emergency medicine, works as a research assistant at Swansea University in resiliency research, she has featured in a short BBC film on living with a disability as a young person and is shortly to become a published author with her contribution to an NHS give back book, ‘Voices of Resillience’ by Brilliant Book Publishing House. https://www.mymindonwheels.co.uk/about-me

Meet the rest of the team

Health & Wellbeing Practitioner & Consultant

Derith Rhisiart, B.A., BSc Hons Psych, MSc Psychology, FdC, Dip Indian Champissage; MBACP, BPsS has worked in mental health for nearly 10 years. She is a qualified therapist with her own private practice specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness and Motivational Interviewing (MI); where she supports clients suffering from anxiety and depression or any mental health issue. She is also a qualified Advocate (IMHA/RPR) with experience of working in a brain injury unit and is a Specialist Mentor supporting students with mental health issues.

Her areas of interest are dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and also any other learning difficulty. She supports a holistic approach as she is also a qualified Indian Head (Champissage) practitioner and is in the process of qualifying as a massage therapist. Her ethos is to support an individual to reach their potential and to support them on their journey. She is a fluent Welsh speaker and has experience of working in the media for 20 years and is also a qualified fundraiser.

Social Media & Fundraising Team

Will Taylor has a background in teaching modern foreign languages and working with displaced populations in refugee camps in Calais and Ventigmilla. After developing a Spinal Cord Injury from a rare form of Lymes disease he has focused on recovery and rehabilitation while still managing to contribute to the causes he is passionate about through social media work. He fiercely advocates for fewer barriers and access equality in the lives of minority communities, including the disabled.

Samantha Samuel-Johnson is a passionate advocate for disability access with a strong background in marketing. Originally from California, her late father had a spinal cord injury and so she grew up with lived experience of disability issues. Having recently settled with her fiancé in the UK from California she wants to continue advocating for disability access and inclusion.

Business Management Team

Project Manager
Tina Thomas has a background in Psychology, amongst other subjects. She is skilled in Project Management and has been self-employed for many years. Over the last 18 months, she has been taking the lead role in projects and guiding the way forward gaining invaluable experience. She has been gaining experience in writing funding bids and successfully acquired lottery funding. She hopes to help take ADAPT Gateway to the next level in the near future.
As a partner and wife of the founding member of ADAPT Gateway, she is experienced in disability and would like to assist and provide support to the partners/friends and carers of disabled people through our peer support program.

Peer Support Team

Matthew Bassett is our peer support team leader and an independent living advisor. He acquired his spinal cord injury in 2011, but has continued to push himself to be the best he can be and not let his disability hold him back. He presents a show called ‘Weatherman Walking’ on BBC One Wales and continues to try anything put in front of him, thriving on new challenges. As peer support lead, he is looking forward to training other people with disabilities to support each other through their lived experience and knowledge.

Tess Edwards is currently studying Medical Sciences at University and works part time for the GP Out of Hours Service in Cardiff. After graduating, she intends to study Postgraduate Medicine to become a medical doctor. In 2014 she was injured and became C6 Tetraplegic, but also has a rare genetic condition called Arthrochalasia Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which would likely have resulted in requiring a wheelchair even without the injury.
She has experience in supporting Tony as a volunteer peer support mentor for newly injured people in Rookwood and is in the process of training to become a wheelchair skills trainer with The Back Up Trust. She loves sports and has played Sledge Hockey and Wheelchair Rugby regularly, as well as trying out Sit Skiing with The Back Up Trust in January 2020. She believes in the importance of personal growth after disability and improving accessibility throughout the U.K.

Research Consultant

Dr Jane Lewis (Podiatric and Circulatory Medicine). Dr Lewis worked for the NHS for 16 years as a Specialist High Risk Podiatrist specialising in lower limb wounds and amputations predominantly due to the complications related to chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus. During this time, she completed her PhD with the School of Medicine at Cardiff University looking at effective methods of screening for diabetic foot disease (2006).

Outcomes of her work highlighted the inefficiency in early detection of peripheral arterial disease. Dr Lewis worked with a local medical company to develop a more effective screening device, which is available worldwide.

Dr Lewis moved to the Wales in 2014 when she joined the School of Podiatric Studies, Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences at Cardiff Metropolitan University and is now a Reader in Podiatric and Circulatory Medicine. Applications of her research constituted one of only three impact case studies (projects) selected for the recent National Universities Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) submission.

Having witnessed the incredible human burden and financial costs that arterial disease, wounds and amputations in the lower limb and foot cause, Dr Lewis concentrates her research on early diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in the lower limb and foot and disease prevention. She is currently a chief investigator on a number of national and international clinical investigations, which explore population based screening for PAD. She collaborates with Public Health Wales, the Diabetic Eye Screening Service Wales, Primary Care, Podiatry Specialist Foot Care teams, Secondary Care specialists, Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation (BHF) the Diabetes Research Unit at Swansea University, the Ministry of Health in Mauritius, International Diabetes Federation but most importantly with the public.

She has presented at national and international conferences to spread the word of the potential to save limbs and lives through smart working and early detection of cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Sarah Maddocks (Microbiology). I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport and Health Sciences at Cardiff Metropolitan University. My current research focuses upon chronic would infection, treatment and prevention. We are currently working upon the development of an alternative means by which the development of

Chronic wound infections can be life changing and are incredibly difficult to treat. They affect individuals with limited mobility arising from pressure sores, with an incidence in the UK of 100,000 new diagnoses per year. Not only does this impact on the individual with the wounds, but can also have a devastating impact on other family members and close friends who make-up an individual’s essential network of support.

My research aims to understand how chronic wound infections can be best diagnosed, monitored and managed with the intention to find a way to effective healing. This includes understanding different types of chronic wounds and identifying the different bacteria that infect them. The research group I lead is particularly interested in exploring multidimensional ways of wound prevention as developing and testing new antimicrobial wound treatments.

Dr James Blaxland (Microbiology). Dr James Blaxland is a Lecturer in Microbiology based within the Zero2Five Food Industry Centre at the Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University. James undertook both his BSc and MSc in Biomedical Science at Cardiff Met where he specialised in Medical Microbiology and toxicology. His work focused on the use of honey as a method for wound treatment and the removal of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms such as MRSA.

James then undertook his PhD in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University. His research focused on the use of Humulus lupulus (hops) as a potential treatment for the causative agent of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Following his PhD, he remained at Cardiff University working on several research projects with DSTL on the decontamination of Bacillus anthracis, Anthrax. James returned to Cardiff Met in 2018 and has since developed a multidisciplinary research portfolio.

His primary interest is the decontamination of microorganisms such as Listeria monocytogenes from surfaces using gaseous ozone and the development of novel antimicrobials from natural products. Recently we have been working to identify microorganisms on the skin/prosthesis interface from disabled athletes. Past research has shown that the use of some anti-perspirants has contributed to bacterial proliferation in these areas. To date we have identified eleven bacterial isolates, some of which are antibiotic resistant. In future, our research will determine the effect of natural products against these microorganisms.


John Harris was a Paralympic athlete representing Wales, who competed mainly in category 5 throwing events. In 1984 he became the world record holder in the discus winning gold at the Summer Paralympics, following this with silver in the discus and bronze in the Pentathlon four years later. John was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. He was also on, ‘This is your life’ in 1986.

John has raised large amounts of money on behalf of charities and helped fundraise for a gym in South Wales so that disabled people could use the integra equipment. John was one of the first people with a spinal cord injury to climb Kilimanjaro at the age of 68 years young. He has spent many years raising awareness for disabilities in general. He has been recognised many times for his achievements and won many awards – too many to mention!
John when asked said he was proud to be asked to be an ambassador for ‘Adapt Gateway’, as he hopes to see real change in the future for people of all disabilities

Simon Richardson MBE. In 2001, Simon was a club level cyclist, but that year, he was involved in a road traffic accident resulting in a broken leg, back injuries and nerve damage. From that day Simon was disabled, but could mostly get around using sticks. In 2006, Simon started back on a bike and in 2007 raced for the British Para-cycling team. He competed in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games where he won two Gold and one Silver medal. Simon received an MBE in the 2009 New Year’s honours for services to disabled sport.

In August 2011, Simon was training for London 2012 when he was involved in a hit and run accident. A Wales air ambulance airlifted him to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff and placed in an induced coma for 15 days. This accident resulted in numerous injuries including seven breaks to his back, but luckily no spinal cord damage or serious brain injury.

Following his accidents, Simon has experienced severe mental health issues and has had suicidal thoughts. He now uses a wheelchair, even though he can walk a little. Following nine years of repeated operations, he finally has permission to train and race again. In the 2021 competitive season, Simon will join an elite, able-bodied cycling team. He now has more sponsorship than he received in 2008, and the fact that so many people believe in him inspires Simon to live a life that is rich and full.

Simon receives incredible and unwavering support from his close family and he is an ambassador for Welsh Air Ambulance Charitable Trust. He is proud to be an ambassador for ADAPT gateway and encourages everyone to be open and ambitious, but realistic. If anyone has questions for him, Simon is always available to discuss any issues you may have via email: simonrichardsonmbe@btinternet.com

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