Frontline Team

Joanna Carter – Chief Executive

Joanna is a qualified nurse and has spent most of her career in acute hospital settings and most recently in senior management positions. She has been at HVL since 2015 and is always on the look out for new opportunities for the charity. Joanna believes that there are always new opportunities to make living with sight loss easier and strives to find those solutions.


Vanessa Macdonald – Vision Loss Advisor (Central)
Vanessa has worked for HVL for nearly six years and thoroughly enjoys her work. She is a bright, receptive person and supportive towards people who suffer from any disability. Vanessa is a good listener and is able to communicate well with people from all walks of life. She has a grown-up family and grandchildren to keep her busy. She is a lover of the outdoors, especially walking.


Sophia Ramsden – Vision Loss Advisor (West)
Sophia joined the team three years ago, having spent time travelling and living in Asia where she was dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of street animals. Although now back in the UK, her rescue days are not over as she has coordinated the journey of her three cats and dog, all saved from starvation or worse on the streets of Cambodia, all the way to Hertfordshire! Prior to her travels, Sophia worked in Social Care, Health Care and Support Work for ten years. She brings with her to this varied role her caring nature, warm personality and extensive experience in working with people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.


Sue Firth – Volunteer Manager

Sue has been a volunteer with HVL for six years and supported the creation of the Sight Life groups. Prior to that, she was employed by the local council for 16 years. Sue has lived in Welwyn Garden City for over 30 years and also works in the local hospice shop as a volunteer and volunteer manager. Sue works for HVL 8 hours per week, coordinating our ever growing team of volunteers.


Vanessa Browell – Ear for Eyes Counsellor

Vanessa is a fully qualified NCS accredited counsellor & psychotherapist. Her interest in counselling came from working in a school environment. She has trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches including cognitive behavioural therapy, person-centred counselling and psychodynamic therapy. Vanessa also works as a voluntary bereavement counsellor for the St Albans Bereavement Network.


Debra Lavington – Office Administrator

Debra is the office administrator and has been an FPC qualified financial consultant in previous positions within retail banking. She brings her caring nature to the charity. She has lived in Hertfordshire all of her life and lives with her husband and daughter and their fluffy dog Max!. She enjoys travelling and socialising.


Alma Henderson – Ears for Eyes Counselling

Alma joined the team at HVL as a volunteer counsellor with Ears for Eyes, a service aimed at providing emotional support to all those affected by vision impairment. She soon joined the staff at HVL and her referral rates are growing. She has been instrumental in setting up the children’s support groups – Junior Sight Life.


Sophie Chapps – Vision Loss Advisor (South East)

Sophie joined the team, last year, after working in administration. She decided to change career and is now building her client base. Sophie enjoys running and even took place in the London Marathon last year! She has 3 children and enjoys travel and socialising.


Monica Ansbro – Financial Administration