The SAFE Executive Team

Carolann Jackson

Carolann JacksonPresident In 1997, following my daughter’s Asperger diagnosis at the Maudsley, I found that none of the services they recommended existed in Essex, so I founded SAFE to provide a place where families could meet and discuss the issues which concerned them and their children.

SAFE became a charity in 2002 and I was elected Chair. In 2010 I was elected Lifetime President. Apart from running ASAP (Asperger Syndrome Adults and Parents), I now concentrate on advocacy and campaigning for our Asperger community, as well as talking at conferences and seminars, raising awareness of this most enigmatic autistic condition. With our help, and the support of parents, I have seen the progress many of our Aspies have made over time, and I am proud to be associated with SAFE, having seen it grow from a small ‘comfort group’ into the respected charity it now is.

Peter Neal

Photo of Peter NealChair – My background includes 20 years in farming and 20 years as a Baptist minister.  I became involved with SAFE when my son, Sam, received a diagnosis of Aspergers while in senior school, and my wife Jane has been actively involved with SAFE South for a number of years.

I hope to bring a degree of encouragement and support to the group.


Peter Layzell

Photo of Peter LayzellTreasurer.  I have a background in electrical engineering and worked as an engineer and then manager for National Grid in Rayleigh.  I gained experience in budgeting and financial control during the latter years at work.  I have been treasurer of the local National Grid retired group since 2010.

I am married with two children, a boy and a girl who have left home.  My wife and I are now bringing up our 15 year old grandson who has Asperger syndrome, ADHD and mild OCD.  Our grandson was diagnosed in early 2012 when we joined SAFE.

I was elected treasurer in 2014.  I hope to be able to use my experience to contribute to the work and aims of SAFE.

Phil Thurlow

Phil Thurlow I have been a member of SAFE since 2006.

Since 2007 I have been the Treasurer for the Chelmsford and Mid Essex branch of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

I have been employed at Bradwell Power Station in various jobs since 1980. My current position is Head of Work Control and Delivery, where I am responsible for the Site infrastructure. One of my duties is to manage the £5 million budget for the operations and maintenance of the site.

I have a daughter born in 1990 and a son born in 1993, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when she was 12.

Chris Sorrell

Chris SorrellI have a son with Asperger syndrome and sit on the SAFE South Committee. I am heavily involved in SAFE Stuff on a Saturday morning.

I work in London as an Advertising Manager, selling space and sponsorship online, offline in magazines and on TV. Before this I was a financial adviser for 12 years.

I also manage to drag my aching limbs round the football pitch once a week and also still play cricket. I have been an Executive member of SAFE since 2007.

Fern Potter

Fern Potter Fern has been involved with SAFE since its earliest days in 1998, soon after her son Mark (then nearly 10 years old) received the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. She was one of the first to set up a SAFE support group in the Southend area and used her fundraising skills to raise considerable funds for SAFE projects including social skills training programs, the setting up of ASAP (Asperger Syndrome Adults and Parents project for those aged 17+), and SAFE STUFF (for young children).

Fern is originally from Essex, New Jersey, and started her professional life as a dancer. After graduating from Rutgers University where she studied Dance and Education, she moved to New York City to continue her professional dance activities whilst supporting her career doing various jobs including working as a researcher for National Opinion Research Center (part of University of Chicago). From starting as an interviewer, she progressed to middle management in charge of multi-million dollar projects and large staff teams. After five years, she decided to re-focus on her dancing career which including overseas touring and teaching. This is where she met and married Clive, and moved to England – first working as a peripatetic teacher and teacher trainer in dance at numerous schools in Essex, before becoming Director of Essexdance (the county agency for dance development).  She currently works as Head of Development & Strategy for Dance UK and has been active in the field of arts fundraising and development over the past 15 years. She is also a regular lecturer for City University London’s MA Arts Management programme and a freelance trainer.

She brings to the SAFE Executive her many years as a senior manager and is passionate about raising the profile of and improving services for the Asperger community both in Essex and beyond.