Meet Our Chair and Vice Chair

The Chair and Vice Chair oversee the Forces Additional Needs & Disability Forum (FANDF) committee and are both directly affected by its work.

Meet Our Chair and Vice Chair

The Chair and Vice Chair oversee the Forces Additional Needs & Disability Forum (FANDF) committee and are both directly affected by its work.

Chair

Surgeon Commander Alan Bowie and his wife Alison have been FANDF committee members since 2015.

As a GP in the Royal Navy, Alan regularly encounters personnel dealing with their own ill health or trying to manage the health of a disabled family member while also carrying out their military duties. He knows what a struggle that can be. As in civilian life, military GPs work closely with welfare agencies and with specialist services within the forces including the Chaplaincy service and charities.

Alan and Alison have two sons, both of whom have additional needs to some extent. Their older son, Tommy, now aged fifteen, is profoundly autistic. Their younger son, Caelan, aged nine, has the genetic abnormality “22q duplication” and has many autistic and behavioural issues as a result. Both boys have EHCPs; Caelan is supported in a mainstream school while Tommy attends a specialist school for children with physical, mental and developmental problems.

As a GP, Alan is used to coordinating care and dealing with a wide variety of people to try to achieve the best results. A key incident in persuading him to join the FANDF committee was when he deployed to Afghanistan, leaving Alison alone to cope with childcare. It was obvious that there were many agencies available to help, including SSAFA and the Royal Navy/Royal Marines Welfare team. However, there was a lack of ready information for families on how to access that help.

FANDF have an excellent team of people, with a wide range of experience and skills. We can provide the signposting and advice that families need to manage when they are trying to balance all of their responsibilities. We can provide a voice for families at the highest levels within the MoD, meeting with subject matter experts and ensuring that the welfare of anyone coping with personal disability or with the needs of a carer is at the forefront of planning.


Vice Chair

Karen Ross has been a member of the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) Committee for several years. She has seen the FANDF evolve and develop its wider stakeholder involvement, with maintaining a strong focus on supporting Armed Forces families with additional needs and disability.

Karen is also an adult with paraplegia and an essential wheelchair user. Before she became a paraplegic, she was a nurse and midwife, having worked in the NHS and overseas as well as serving in the QARANC. She is married to a serving Army Officer and has two children who are both currently studying at University.

Karen also works for the Army Families Federation as their Health and Additional Needs Specialist.