Friends of Stour Connect is a charitable organisation dedicated to improving facilities and access at the Stour Connect Day Centre in Sturminster Newton. The Charity has been established to target rural and social isolation affecting the elderly, the physically disabled and those with learning difficulties. With the dedication of our staff, volunteers and partners, we strive to improve the lives of those who need help within our community. Through our fundraising and volunteering we aim to assist in the provision of equipment, facilities, activities and services over and above those provided by statutory services to help our clients engage in rewarding activities in a supportive environment. Inclusivity is at the core of what we do and we set out to assist all those in Sturminster Newton, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Blandford areas. If you are interested in our services contact us to see what you can do to bring about positive change.
Meet the team
Andy Watson - Rheolwr
Jacqui Wragg - Cydymaith
Debbie Parfitt - Gweinyddwr
Julie Greenslade - Gweinyddiaeth We
Andy Watson, Chairperson
Andy is the Chairperson of Friends of Stour Connect and says, "I am a former local authority social worker, including social work practice teacher. I've always worked in learning disability services with 40+ years as a foster carer/staying put carer/respite care, most of which has been spent providing care and support for children with additional needs. I also have 20+ years’ experience in business to directorship level. I am passionate about inclusion and employment opportunities for people with additional needs.
I live with Heather, who is also involved in the charity, and have 3 adopted children, one of which has a diagnosed learning disability. Outside of the charity my hobbies include football (AFC Bournemouth), fishing (if I have time!), walking and music."
Sheryn Biggs, Project Manager
"I am the Project Manager of Friends of Stour Connect, an important sounding title for helping with a bit of everything! This gives a great deal of variety every day which is something I love.
I have worked in learning disability services for over 25 years, from hands on care and support to management within the residential sector and am thrilled to be able to bring this experience to my current role.
My husband is also involved in the sector and is frequently roped in to helping with the charity. We have 3 grown up children, all of whom are forging their own careers. Outside of work I love to read, trawl car boot sales and charity shops for a bargain, go for picnics and days out and am often found ‘helping’ in my daughter’s florist shop."
Tracey Chick, Trustee
"For much of my working life, I have been involved in the charitable and not-for-profit sectors in roles ranging from employment adviser to office manager. I have lived in Sturminster Newton for fifteen years and have a good understanding of the issues people face living in a rural area with poor transport links and a lack of services.
Since becoming a trustee for the Friends of Stour Connect three years ago, I have seen the charity go from strength to strength through the hard work of the staff and volunteers and am proud to be a member of the trustee board.
Outside of my charitable activities, I am writing my first novel building on the work I did in achieving my Masters’ Degree in Creative Writing in 2018. I also enjoy birdwatching, Nordic walking and listening to live music."
Sue Ashby, Trustee
"In 1993 I moved to North Dorset and worked as the county library service's Literature Worker. My passion for the arts led to writing plays for stage, TV and radio and running Writing for Wellbeing projects across the county supporting people with physical, emotional and mental health problems. Moving to Sturminster last March has meant getting involved with the Friends of Stour Connect.
I'm very impressed by the way the charity is growing and am enjoying working on both the charity's governance and its development of arts projects. I love gardening, cooking and spending time with family and friends."
Julie Tuffee, Accounts Manager
“Hello, my name is Julie Tuffee and I manage the accounts for Friends of Stour Connect. I’ve only lived in Sturminster Newton for a short while, previously spending a number of years living in tropical North Queensland by the Great Barrier Reef and Melbourne Australia. I had various roles there working for councils, law firms and barristers’ clerks. I’ve also co-owned a hair salon with my husband who now works in care.
I am registered partially sighted. I believe it is so important for people with additional needs to feel confident and supported in the working environment so that they are not only able to find work but are able to remain in work.
I love going to the theatre, eating out, concerts and to the cinema, but I'm just as happy curled up with a good book and the cat at my feet”
Katie Guy, Trustee & Catering Assistant
“Hello, my name is Katie Guy and I help out in the café at Stour Connect. I have recently become a trustee and am very proud to be part of such a lovely charity who supports so many people in our local community.
My husband and I farm locally, we have three children, two daughters who have left the nest, and our son William, who is 18 and is severely autistic. He attends Yewstock College where I was a governor for 11 years.
My hobbies include cooking, horse riding, walking, singing (badly!) and meeting friends for cake and catch ups.”
Anne Rich, Trustee & Tutor
“I am a Trustee at Stour Connect, and am currently running the Connect to Employment Asdan course with the aim of encouraging people who lack confidence, or opportunity, into work. I am a qualified teacher and have worked in both mainstream and private education for over twenty-five years, with a specialism in teaching post 16 aged students with additional needs.
Community volunteering is high on my agenda, and I run a local Toddler group, a foodbank, and have chaired various charities in the area. For fun, I love live theatre, and was involved in our local drama group until I stopped being able to learn lines! Swimming and reading are my main hobbies now.
My husband and I have lived in Mere for forty years and have two children and four grandchildren.”
Julie Greenslade, Marketing Assistant
“Hello, my name is Julie Greenslade. I am the marketing assistant for Friends of Stour Connect. My job at the charity is to manage the charity’s website, social media platforms, advertising and publicity. My background is in graphic & website design, and website management. I’ve worked for a social enterprise organisation in Bodmin, Cornwall as a marketing assistant, the local museum in Liskeard, and have run my own website design and horticulture businesses, also based in Cornwall. I have also worked in care.
Outside of work I spend most of my time in and out of charity shops looking for a bargain! I also love art, nature, animals and enjoy listening to music.”
Debbie Parfitt, Volunteer
“Hello, I live in Sturminster Newton and have been involved as a volunteer with the charity for about 10 years and have worked in various departments including the office as an admin assistant. Currently I help out on Tuesday morning at the Stour Connect’s “Twice But Nice” charity shop which opened in late 2019. On Thursday afternoon I help out at my local Brainwave charity shop in Sturminster Newton.
I also played in a Panto with SNADS called The Little Mermaid at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton in February 2022. I am now rehearsing for the another play to be held later in the year.