Meet our Team
Stephanie Wheen - CEO and Founder
Stephanie is a disabled children’s physio by trade and ran a successful children’s physiotherapy practice in Bristol in 2012. She founded Gympanzees in 2016 after learning of the lack of accessible options for exercise and play for her clients. Gympanzees has grown from an idea to the recent purchase of a 43,000 sqft building and the launch of a multi-million-pound capital appeal. Gympanzees has won a host of awards, including a Queen’s Award for Innovation, and Stephanie has recently won a Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award, one of only two awarded in Bristol.
Fran Garland - Chief Operations Officer
Fran has over 20 years of experience in the disability sector. She is very passionate about providing equal and inclusive opportunities for anyone with any disability.
Having worked primarily with people with a wide range of different disabilities and additional needs, Fran knew from the moment she found out about Gympanzees that she had to be involved.
In her spare time Fran loves spending time with her 2 young boys and very cute sausage dog! Crafting and making is her bag. “Although my garden doesn’t reflect this currently I am green fingered. My house had a great selection of succulents, plants and cacti”.
Emily Thorn - Executive Assistant to Stephanie Wheen and Fran Garland
Emily has worked in the finance sector for 20 years. Emily is highly organised and passionate about diversity and inclusion.
Emily is our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champion at Gympanzees and said “I feel passionate about the inclusivity that Gympanzees offers, embracing people’s backgrounds whether it be disability, race, religion. With diversity at the heart, we can really embrace everyone’s uniqueness, bring in new ideas and learn from each other”.
Emily has a passion for baking, previously running her own small business and has even made wedding and birthday cakes for other members of the team!
Kate Bracken - Philanthropy Manager
Kate has over 10 years of experience in fundraising and development. She is passionate about capital appeal fundraising and securing funding to see projects through from initial concept to completion.
Having initially got involved to help temporarily – 4 years ago! She was so inspired by the impact Gympanzees was having, and will have, on the lives of so many families and is excited to be helping drive the project forward by securing funds.
Kate has two daughters and in her spare time enjoys running.
Paula Langston - Head of Community fundraising and Communications
Paula has over 22 years of experience in the third sector, across fundraising, marketing and service development. She is very passionate about providing the best supporter experience for anyone wanting to fundraise.
Her experience spans all areas of fundraising and marketing from the community, corporate, individuals, grants, legacies, major donors, groups and organisation, events, volunteering and commercial opportunities.
Paula lives in a vicarage in South Wales, and has two sons, both grown up, and one granddaughter who she loves spending time with, she also has a golden labrador and is happily married to Simon, whom she volunteers to help out regularly. She loves walking, reading, Tiktok, and travel. She also owns a yatch that she is renovating with her husband, which is sited in Cardiff Bay.
Helen Sampson - Grants and Trusts Manager
Helen has a diverse background in charity work, filmmaking, and photography, with a passion for capturing both people and wildlife. Her journey with Gympanzees began when she volunteered to film and produce the Gympanzees first campaign video, as well as capturing professional photos at our Pop Up events.
Inspired by Gympanzees’ impactful work, Helen now plays a vital role within the organization. Her experience in grant writing, gained from previous charity roles, adds a valuable dimension to our fundraising efforts.
Away from fundraising, Helen loves scuba diving with her camera in tropical locations, but mostly likes to spend the majority of her time with the love of her life – Maximus, her Bernese Mountain Dog.
Victoria Noël - Fundraising Manager - Currently on Maternity leave - please contact Jenny Davies
Victoria has worked as a fundraiser at performing arts conservatoires in London for ten years. Developing a range of funding streams to secure scholarship support, she has enjoyed seeing young people thrive whilst doing what they love.
Having recently moved to the South-West, Victoria is looking forward to enjoying all that the area has to offer. She’s also hoping to explore further afield in her campervan.
“When I heard about Gympanzees for the first time I was bowled over by what a good idea it was and couldn’t believe that it didn’t already exist. From personal experience I knew what a facility like this would mean to so many people and I really wanted to be a part of making that happen!”
Jenny Davies - Fundraising Officer
Jenny has first-hand experience with disability as a parent and individual, Jenny herself is diagnosed with ADHD, and her son is autistic. Jenny is passionate about raising awareness around neurodiversity, showing what neurodivergent individuals can achieve when given the right environment and opportunities.
Jenny previously worked as a cabin crew member for ten years. She is a trained makeup artist and the founder of Perfect Sense Clothing Co, a clothing brand encouraging more positive conversations around neurodiversity.
“I can completely relate to the struggles faced by many of our families, so of course, Gympanzees was something I wanted to be a part of. Working for such a fantastic cause and with the best group of caring, hard-working people I’ve ever met is a privilege!”.
Kimberley Britton - Marketing Manager Currently on Maternity leave - please contact Chloe Collins
Kimberley has worked on marketing campaigns for over ten years in the commercial and charity sectors. She has experience in live events, sports marketing and delivering national behaviour change campaigns in Wales.
She was a Mental Health Champion for the Time to Change Wales campaign, speaking in the Senedd about ending mental health stigma. Kim is neurodiverse and has dyspraxia. She is passionate about showing that doesn’t just mean clumsy. “Dyspraxia affects coordination, balance and movement but also how you learn new skills, speak, think, and remember information at work and home. I think my dyspraxia has only made me more determined when taking on tasks and being creative!”.
In her spare time, Kim is a qualified dance fitness instructor and a self-proclaimed movie geek. Ask her any question about the Oscars!
Chloe Collins - Digital Marketing Officer
Chloe has over 7 years’ worth of experience in the care sector and over 10 years in the creative & marketing sector. She has worked with both adults and children to access an abundance of activities in home or out in the community over the years.
A parent sent Chloe the application for her role, knowing she would be an ideal candidate to fit the role. Having met the team, and attending the Pop-ups with her clients she knew she shared very similar visions with Gympanzees for the future of this sector.
In her own time Chloe loves spending time with friends & family. She loves anything creative and dabbles in her own illustrative projects and pursuits. “Creating & drawing, (especially) is what makes my heart happy! I love to spread this creativity throughout my various career roles!”
Leila Rogers - Lending Library Coordinator and Marketing Assistant
Leila was first introduced to Gympanzees as a parent; she had attended Gympanzees Pop Ups with her son and used the Lending Library during the lockdown.
In October 2020, she started volunteering for the Lending Library. She was soon offered an official position in the marketing team to help with all things Gympanzees! A year into her work with Gympanzees, Leila was given the opportunity to take on the Lending Library service full-time, which she happily accepted.
Leila is an asset to the team; she assists with social media and managing the website and has excellent knowledge and awareness of disabilities and life as a SEND parent.
Leila is from Latvia and is an incredible make-up artist, often being asked to work on local shows and productions in her spare time.
Lucy Spielberg - Assistant Project Manager
Lucy is a children’s entertainer with a passion for play. She sees play as one of the most important activities every child can do. And at Gympanzees, they get to do just that. Lucy said – “It’s probably the most rewarding job I have ever had.”
Lucy started at Gympanzees during covid and helped to set up and run the Lending Library. She is now assisting with all things Pop Up and other projects, as well as volunteering at the Lending Library.
Lucy owns a successful children’s entertainment business striving for circus entertainment to be more accessible and inclusive.
During her free time she loves being active, bike rides, hiking and enjoys reading a good book.
Tom Routley - Volunteer Admin Assistant
Tom is a university student studying Politics and International Relations.
He was introduced to Gympanzees by Stephanie Wheen, who is his physio. Tom has attended all the Gympanzees Pop Ups! He is on the Service Delivery Committee and helped to create a room for older users at Gympanzees. He also volunteers at the Pop Ups in reception and in the office doing admin tasks.
During his free time, Tom enjoys going to the gym, playing tennis and keeping up to date with politics and current affairs.