Meet the Team

All our occupational therapists:

  • Have an enhanced DBS check.
  • Are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
  • Participate regularly in peer supervision.
  • Participate regularly in high quality, continuing professional development.

IMG_4847    Alison Barrett, BSc (HONS) OT

Occupational Therapist

Owner and Managing Director

Alison qualified as an occupational therapist (OT) in 2001 with a BSc Honours degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southampton. She has worked extensively in the NHS, completing a basic grade rotation at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital before gaining a Senior post as a Children’s OT in South Bedfordshire in 2003. This involved working in clinics and mainstream and special schools. Following this, Alison gained a band 7 post as an Advanced Children’s OT and Clinical Facilitator for Acute and Early Years in Northamptonshire where she worked from 2005 until 2012. This included working with children in homes, schools, children’s centres and clinic settings. Alison became a partner and director of Thrive OT in 2012.

Alison has worked with children with a wide range of difficulties and diagnoses, including: cerebral palsy, neurological conditions, hemiplegia, developmental impairment, sensory integration difficulties and coordination difficulties, including DCD and dyspraxia. She has a specific interest in early intervention with under fives and children with physical and neurological disabilities. Alison has specialised training in postural management, sensory integration (modules 1, 2 and 3 through the Sensory Integration Network), DIR/Floortime 101 and manual handling.

Alison is a member of:

  • British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapy (COT).
  • COT Specialist section for Independent Practitioners (COTSSIP).
  • COT Specialist section for Children, Young People and Families.
  • Sensory Integration Network.

    Brenda McDonald, MSc, OT/L

Associate Occupational Therapist

Brenda founded Thrive OT in September 2010 and was co-managing director of Thrive OT until May 2017.  She continues to provide clinical and training work for Thrive OT as well as work on other professional projects.

Brenda completed her Master’s of Science in occupational therapy studies in January 2000 from Tufts University (Boston, Massachusetts). She began working as an OT with children in various international schools in Rome, Italy in September 2000. While in Rome, she also worked at a multidisciplinary children’s therapy centre, Synapsy, in which she worked with children with a variety of special needs.

Training and specialisations include: early intervention with children from 0-5 years of age, family-centred care, school based services, sensory integration theory and practice (Modules 1, 2 and 3 through the Sensory Integration Network, UK) and a cognitive approach to developmental coordination disorder (CO-OP course with Helen Polatajko), the SOS Feeding Course among others.  She is certified as a Basic Floortime Provider (completion of DIR/Floortime modules 101 and 201, ICDL) and has completed the 7 day intensive Special Yoga for Special Children course through the Special Yoga Foundation (London).

She has experience working with children with a wide variety of difficulties and diagnoses, including: sensory integration difficulties, coordination difficulties, developmental delay, autistic spectrum disorders, behavioural and attention difficulties as well as neurological difficulties.

Brenda’s experience in education began at the Universita’ Cattolica di Roma teaching paediatric occupational therapy theory to Italian OT students in 2004. Since moving to the UK in 2006, Brenda worked briefly as a locum in the Northampton NHS paediatric OT service before going on to teach at the University of Northampton as a full-time senior lecturer in the Division of Occupational Therapy.   She now enjoys teaching teachers and parents about sensory processing, self-regulation, picky eating and sensory circuits.

Brenda is a member of:

  • British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapy (COT).
  • American Occupational Therapy Association.
  • COT Specialist section for Independent Practitioners (COTSSIP).
  • COT Specialist section for Children, Young People and Families.
  • Sensory Integration Network.

Charlotte Pow, BSc (HONS) OT

Associate Occupational Therapist

Charlotte has been working with Thrive OT since September 2012. She qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2002 with a BSc Honours in Occupational Therapy from the University of Northampton. She started her career at St. Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton specialising in Acquired Brain Injury. In 2005, Charlotte gained a band 7 post in the NHS Northampton Community Learning Disability Team. Charlotte continues to work part-time for the Northamptonshire Learning Disability Service, working with adults with learning disabilities and/or mental health and challenging behaviour, on an in-patient ward and in the community.

Charlotte has experience of working with teenagers and adults with mild, moderate, severe and profound multiple learning disabilities, autism, sensory integration difficulties, communication difficulties, mental health and challenging behaviour. She has a specific interest in activities of daily living skills teaching and engaging individuals with challenging behaviour in meaningful activity.  Charlotte has completed DIR/Floortime 101.

Charlotte is a member of:

  • British Association of OT (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapy
  • College of Occupational Therapy Specialist Section – People with Learning Disabilities

Cindy    Cindy Lovejoy-Jacobs, BSc (HONS) OT

Associate Occupational Therapist

Cindy started her career in Occupational Therapy in 2007 after gaining a BSc Honours degree from the University of Northampton.  Initially employed by Livability at Hinwick Hall College, she spent much of her early career in service development and working with young adults with learning disabilities.

In 2009, Cindy began working in Paediatrics in the Northamptonshire NHS Trust, where she gained experience in a variety of settings including schools, both mainstream and special, children’s centres, children’s homes and children’s wards in hospital.  Cindy has a particular interest in the treatment and management of childhood hemiplegia and has attended a Bobath course to enhance her practise in this area.

Cindy is a member of:

  • British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapy (COT)

    Jennifer Barrow, BSc (HONS) OT

Associate Occupational Therapist

Jennifer has been working with Thrive OT since March 2012. She qualified as an occupational therapist in 1992 with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy from the Trinity College, Dublin. She started her career in Whipps Cross Hospital in London, specialising initially in orthopaedics and surgery with a special interest in fracture bracing and splinting. In 1994, Jennifer gained senior posts working at Whipps Cross Hospital and then Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield. Following a move in 1997 to Leicestershire, Jennifer worked as a locum prior to working at Glenfield Hospital as Team leader for Orthopaedics and Surgery.

A move to Guernsey in the Channel Islands in 2007 gave Jennifer the opportunity to work in paediatrics in a variety of settings including, mainstream and special needs schools. Jennifer also worked within paediatric intensive care units, children’s centres and in children’s own homes. She has supported schools and families in applying for grants and funding from charities. She has also supported schools in setting up sensory areas, handwriting groups and movement groups for children with DCD and dyspraxia.

Jennifer has a specific interest in working with children of school age and young adolescents. She has specialised training in splinting, postural management and neurological rehabilitation and has completed module 1, 2 and 3 of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Certification (SI Network, UK).  She is also certified as a DIR/Floortime Basic Practitioner.

Jennifer is a member of:

  • British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapy (COT)

    Meike Illing-Whitby, OT

Associate Occupational Therapist

Meike qualified as an Occupational Therapist with Diploma in Germany in 2001. After working as a Children’s Occupational Therapist in private practice in Hamburg and Cologne, she went on to study Occupational Therapy at Hogeschool Zuyd in Heerlen, Netherlands and graduated with a Bachelor of Health in 2005. Meike continued to work in private practice in Germany until starting to work for Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust for 8 years. In 2014, Meike started to work for Thrive OT.

Throughout her career, Meike has primarily worked with children in their school/nursery settings, at home or in the community. Meike worked with children with learning disabilities, autism and behaviour difficulties and completed a three week foundation course in Sensory Integration in Germany. Her special interests lay in early intervention and children with complex physical needs. She has been an OT team lead for a special needs school, providing advice in sensory processing, postural management, activities of daily living, moving & handling and housing. Meike is a Bobath trained Occupational Therapist. As part of her role for Cambridgeshire Community Services, Meike lead a team of OTs who advised mainstream educational settings on building adaptations to accommodate children with physical and sensory needs.

Meike is a member of:

  • British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapy (COT)
  • Deutscher Verband der Ergotherapeuten (DVE) – German Association of Occupational Therapy

Jackie    Jackie O’Connell, OT

Associate Occupational Therapist

Jackie joined Thrive OT in 2016.  She has extensive experience in working with children and adolescents with significant mental health, ASD and developmental difficulties.   Jackie is SI trained (Modules 1-3) and has coauthored chapters in a book “Forensic Issues in Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities”.


Rachael    Rachael Gartland, OT

Associate Occupational Therapist

Rachael has recently joined Thrive OT working in a special school.  She had been working in the NHS as part of the Child Development Centre since qualifying as an Occupational Therapist in 2010.  She has experience with a range of Physical Disabilities and Neurodevelopmental difficulties including ASD and ADHD.  She has worked as part of the multidisciplinary team assessing for Autistic Spectrum Disorders and providing therapy for children post diagnosis.  She has also been working in schools and nurseries to provide strategies and interventions which aid learning and access to the curriculum.

She has a special interest in hemiplegia and also sensory processing difficulties and completed the DIR/Floortime 101 course.  She has completed module 1 through the Sensory Integration Network and is in the process of completing module 2 & 3.

Rachael is a member of:

  • The Sensory Integration Network

Clare Donohoe, OT

Associate Occupational Therapist

Clare has been working with Thrive OT since December 2014.  She qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2012 with a BSc Honours in Occupational Therapy from York St. John University.  She started her career at Headland’s Children’s Centre in 2012 and worked from 2013-2016 at a sensory integration based clinic on Harley Street, London.

She has experience in working with children aged 2- 16 years old with autism, dyspraxia, developmental delay and sensory integration difficulties. She has a special interest in hand writing difficulties and sensory integration.

Clare is a member of:

  • British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapy (COT)
  • Sensory Integration Network