Owain DaviesChief ExecutiveOwain joined Level Playing Field in January 2017 initially as a Development Officer. In 2018 Owain became the Chief Executive of Level Playing Field. In his current role he will lead the charity in its core activities whilst also looking to develop new areas of work. As a part if his position he will liaise directly with key stake holders to drive greater change within access and inclusion at sport stadia and other venues. Owain graduated from Bucks New University with a BA Honours in Sports Management and Rugby Studies. Since his time at Bucks he has gained experience working within the disability sport sector by heading up the Saracens Sports Foundation’s Disability and Inclusion. Owain is passionate about inclusion, having volunteered at Gateways Clubs from the age of 8 along with his parents. Sport is an important part of Owain’s life and he has been working within the sector from the age of 18. Owain is an avid rugby fan, supporting his hometown club of Bridgend and also Saracens. Away from rugby, Owain has supported Everton from an early age and enjoys watching cricket in the summer.
Ruth HopkinsNRAC Auditor - General Manager & Head of Access and DevelopmentRuth joined Level Playing Field in April 2013 as our Access and Development Manager. She is an NRAC Access Auditor with a wide knowledge across a range of sectors and has experience as a first point of contact and lead on pan disability issues within large project teams. Ruth has worked closely with stakeholders, designers, construction teams, disability groups and HR and Equality managers on Health projects, the Prison Service, Sports and Leisure clubs, churches and pubs and restaurants. Ruth spent 16 years working in International Banking before taking a career break to raise her daughter. Her father was an architect who spent the last few years of his life as a wheelchair user and his experiences determined her choice of career when she returned to work. Trained by the Centre for Accessible Environments and gaining her experience and portfolio working with architects and design teams Ruth received accreditation from the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC) in 2006. Sport plays a big part in Ruth’s life. She is married to an ex professional cricketer with contacts at the ECB and the whole family involved with their local cricket club. They are keen rugby supporters – following Worcester Warriors and Wales - and Ruth has been an Aston Villa fan for years. “I am thrilled to be working with Level Playing Field. Everyone has the right to support their favourite sports team. Regardless of their disability, spectators have a right to be included and treated as equals. The “Working Together” project in football helps deliver these values and engages disabled supporters with their clubs. Hopefully this is a model that can be rolled out across other sports in the future” Ruth was promoted to the position of General Manager in February 2016.
Nicky BakerNRAC Auditor - Access and Development OfficerNicky joined Level Playing Field in August 2015 as an Access & Development Officer. Nicky initially trained as an access auditor on a trainee scheme at a local disability charity, where she also worked for many years as an Information Officer. She became a registered Access Auditor with the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC) in 2003. Nicky has previously worked on a range of accessibility projects including schools and large parks. Nicky has also been delivering Disability Equality Training for a number of years for a range of staff and type of organisations such as Local Authorities. Nicky completed the Disability Rights Commission 'Train the Trainer' course and became one of their accredited trainers. Nicky plays Powerchair football and plays for Evergreen. She has previously coached and holds many coaching badges. Nicky supports Liverpool FC and Wigan Warriors RFL and is passionate about using her professional career to enable other disabled supporters access to sports stadia on equal terms as non-disabled supporters.
Neal HickeyDevelopment OfficerNeal joined Level Playing Field in April 2018 as the Development Officer. Neal has been involved within the disability sport sector since 2009 in a variety of different capacities. In his current role he will work closely with front line match day staff to make sure that disabled fans have the best possible experience at live sporting events. Neal will lead on a number of new and exciting opportunities for Level Playing Field which will be focused on generating greater awareness and engagement for accessibility and inclusion in sport. Neal graduated from University College Dublin with a BsC in Sports and Exercise Management and a MsC in Business Management from Dublin City University. Since his time at University Neal has gained experience working within the disability sport sector working with Special Olympics Hawaii as the development officer. Neal has volunteered with a number of local football clubs as a coach, championing inclusion and leading a number of inclusive unified activities. Neal is an enthusiastic football fan, supporting his local club Saint Patrick’s Athletic and his not so local club Liverpool. Away from football, Neal is also interested in rugby and has recently started playing Aussie Rules. Neal also does Yoga and loves trying new sports and activities including surfing, badminton, tennis, and is always open to recommendations.
Helen PownallTeam AdministratorHelen joined Level Playing Field in September 2017 as our Team Administrator. She monitors enquiries to the team and assists with website and social media updates. Helen previously worked for the Learning Disability Team in her local social services for seven years. She enjoys cycling and running, especially in the countryside and in 2013 completed the London to Brighton Bike Ride. She is currently a member of a running group which helps out the local community. In recent years, she has become something of a wrestling fan - in particular of New Japan Pro Wrestling and WWE’s NXT show.
Liam BirdFans Liaison Officer
Liam joined Level Playing Field in November 2018 in the new role of Fans Liaison Officer. Liam has been involved in the sporting charity sector during his time with Comic Relief where he worked as a 'Development Radio Producer' working hand in hand with sporting charities up and down the UK to create audio presentations to generate public funding for Comic Relief causes.
Away from Comic Relief, Liam has had a successful radio career working as a producer and assistant producer on Absolute Radio's Rock n' Roll Football show and BBC 5live as well as creating several BBC radio documentaries across a spectrum of subject matters.
Liam's role as Fans Liaison Officer will see him working closely with Disabled Supporters Associations (DSAs) and partners in England and Wales to help bring change and equality to disabled fans.
Liam is a lover of all sports in particular Football supporting his hometown club Nottingham Forest and has recently begun his love affair with the NFL after spending some time in New Orleans.