Conference Development Team


This small but dedicated group of volunteer members and COT officers work collaboratively to develop COT’s Annual Conference. The Conference Development Team are all experts in their field and represent the diversity of the profession, and it is this mix of roles and skills that allows them to compile the high quality and engaging conference programme, coupled with excellent plenary speakers that results in a successful, inspirational and memorable event.

Book tickets

Learn more about the Conference Development Team by visiting their bio pages:

  • Sarah Bodell
    Sarah Bodell
    Chair, JP MSc, PGCAP, BSc, Dip COT, SFHEA, HCPC Registered

    Since 1991 I have worked as an occupational therapist in clinical practice, service management and education. I have taught students at the University of Salford since 2003 and now hold the post of Senior Lecturer and Professional Lead; my role includes teaching, research and lots of administration, however I never tire of seeing our Graduates walk across the stage in caps and gown as they join this brilliant profession. 

    I am particularly proud to be a volunteer founder member of Online Technology for Occupational Therapy (OT4OT), an online movement that encourages occupational therapists to come together and share knowledge and experience for free.  In 2014 the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, approved OT4OT as International Advisory Group for Social Media, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to write the position statement for the use of social media on behalf of the organisation.

    This love of technology has led me to co-develop an app, Occubuzz, which is designed to enable people to evaluate their own occupational balance and takes steps to improve it. Occubuzz is available on both Apple and Android app stores and is free to download, so why not give it a go?

    It has been my pleasure to serve on the Conference planning team for three years now, with two years as Chair. I look forward to seeing you all at our next conference – it is going to be fabulous.

  • Ken Levins
    Ken Levins
    MSc, BSc (Hons), HCPC Reg

    Occupational Therapy has allowed me the fortune to work with people with varying personal and health challenges in life, teach students, grow personally and professionally, and become a team member of the Conference Development Team.

    In 1999 I began my journey in Occupational Therapy as a Technical Instructor on a regional Spinal Injury in the North West. I completed my training at Salford University and immediately entered into my first clinical post in Forensic Mental Health. In 2008 my curiosity and the love of working with people lead me to take up the post of Clinical Specialist within Acute In-patient Mental Health Services at Lancashire Care. In 2012 my desire to the influence and embrace the challenges of leadership in Health and Social Care resulted in my appointment as Service Manager of Community Restart Services in East Lancashire. I quickly realised that for me as an Occupational Therapist it was important to take my professional skills and test new opportunities to test them within. In 2016 I took a leap from clinical practice into Organisational Governance and I currently work as an Investigation and Learning Specialist in the Nursing and Quality Directorate for Lancashire Care Foundation Trust.

    I hope to support the continued success of Occupational Therapy through my involvement as a Conference Development Team member and the organisation of our COT Annual Conference over the next 3 years. I feel honoured to be in this role as a representative of all my Occupational Therapy colleagues both near and far. I am look forward to Birmingham 2017, it’s going to be our best Conference yet. See you all there.

  • Jennifer Read
    Jennifer Read
    Vice-Chair, BSc, MSc Clin Res

    I am a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and state registered Occupational Therapist (OT). Clinically, I qualified in 1997 and specialising in Stroke(acute and rehabilitation settings). As a researcher, I have worked on a number of complex evaluation projects investigating the impact of health services infrastructure, collaborative health service re-design and collaborative health service technology deployment.

    I am an active researcher within Sheffield’s Collaboration Aiming to Build Occupational Therapy research (CABOT) and Sheffield Occupational Therapy clinical Academics Network (SOTCA) and am passionate about linking research and clinical practice. I review for several peer-reviewed journals, conferences and Doctoral fellowship awards. I really enjoy working within the Conference Development Team to ensure conference builds, grows and improves year on year and delivers an event that is relevant, of great quality and interest whilst being exciting, fun and inspirational for everyone!

  • Dee Christie
    Dee Christie
    Dip OT, CMS, MA Health Studies (with distinction)

    I trained at Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy, Oxford, qualifying in 1974. After 3 years in the NHS in neuro rehab I moved in to a community setting in 1977 and spent more than 35 years working in local government.

    In 1987 I moved to West Sussex County Council to set up a new countywide OT Services. I remained in post until 2014 as Head of Operations for Independent Living managing OT and a wide range of other services including Reablement. During that time I led the service, and was instrumental in developing professional standards and practice and became passionate about the use of evidence in practice. I introduced the support worker role for Occupational Therapy, developed specialist OT services for children and also services for people with sensory impairments. Taking a strategic, management and leadership role in the organization, being a member of the senior management board and leading a large countywide service with over 300 staff was extremely challenging but incredibly enjoyable.

    I have set up and served on a number of COT regional committees and joined COT Membership and External Affairs Board for 3 years. I was elected as COT Council Member for Community/Social Care in 2004 serving for a term of 2 years. I was then elected as Chairman of Council for COT and completed a 3-year term of office in June 2009 one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career.

    After 40 years in professional practice and management I retired in 2014 but I remain committed to our profession. I continue this commitment through professional activities such membership of the Conference Planning Committee, as a CQC Specialist Advisor and in Feb 2015 I was appointed by NICE to Chair of a National Guideline Committee on Intermediate Care including Reablement which will be published later this year.   In April 2016 I was appointed to the NICE Fellows Programme a role that supports and promotes the work of NICE and evidence in practice.

  • Clare Taylor
    Clare Taylor

    I trained at Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy, Oxford, more years ago than I care to think. I worked as an occupational therapist in London and in Hull, where my main areas of interest were hand rehabilitation, stroke and neurological rehabilitation and working with older people. Rather than climb the managerial ladder, I decided to venture into the educational field. I worked for a number of years at Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy in Oxford, then as a principal lecturer in occupational therapy, at Coventry University. In 2010 I joined the occupational therapy team at Bournemouth University.  

    As a result of my interest in research skills,  I became involved in the embryonic evidence-based practice movement and this led to a number of publications, including Evidence-based Practice for Occupational Therapists., I have also been involved in a number of research projects exploring the experiences of disabled occupational therapy students. This work was the focus of the 2007 Casson Memorial Lecture at the College of Occupational Therapists’ Annual Conference. I have recently retired from academic work, but decided to finish my career where I began, working clinically in an acute hospital care of the elderly setting.

    I am passionate about helping colleagues to network and share their innovations and research, and have worked with a number of groups to help them write abstracts for conference presentations. I am delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the CDT and to help to share the Annual Conference.

  • Alicia Ridout
    Alicia Ridout
    MSc DipCOT

    I am a registered Occupational Therapist with over 28 years of experience encompassing industry, NHS, private healthcare, Higher Education and the 3rd sector. I have significant experience working with people in a wide range of settings across the UK, delivering transformation programmes, service improvement projects and innovation and is passionate about user and carer involvement in care planning, delivery and evaluation. I have spent much of my career working in mental health and liaison psychiatry, commissioning, Higher Education innovation and more recently as Deputy Director of the mHabitat, an innovative NHS service focused on people driven digital interventions.

    I am a member of the College of Occupational Therapists Conference Development Team, and a Dementia Champion, with a visiting role at the University of Leeds, and I chair an MRC research project advisory group. I have published research and have completed a project exploring the occupational impact on working carers in Leeds funded by the COT, to develop new approaches to ill health prevention.

    I am product owner of the first Leeds Mental Health Information portal (MindWell); and the Clinical Safety Office for the mHabitat.