Lesley Thompson

Lesley Thompson

TESSA Administrator

Experience:  I have been working at TESSA since 2020.

What do you like to do in your free time?  Going on holiday.

All time favourite TV show?  Seal Team & SWAT.

Marie Walker

Marie Walker

Senior Administrator

Experience:  I have worked for Family Routes (formerly Church of Ireland BSR) since January 1996 providing administrative support to all of the services.

What do you like to do in your free time? I enjoy walking, listening to music, reading a good book.

All time favourite TV show?  Spooks

Alison Ruddell

Alison Ruddell


Qualifications: BA Business Studies, Fd Integrative Counselling, DcHyp, Certified CBT practitioner. RGN (retired).

How long have you been working as a counsellor? Since 2012.

What do you enjoy about your job?  You meet some really lovely people.

What do you like to do in your free time? Walk my dogs.

All time favourite TV show? Fraisier

Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert

Senior Social Work Practitioner / Counsellor 

Qualifications:  BSSc (QUB) Dip. Social Work (Edinburgh) 
Diploma HE in Counselling from the University of Ulster
Member of the Irish Fertility Counsellors Association.

Experience:  I was employed as a Social Worker initially in a hospital setting and later in a Family and Child Care Team. On joining Family Routes I spent a number of years concentrating on Adoption and Post Adoption work.

Continuing in Family Routes I am now the lead for our Fertility Counselling Service and also Next Step.

More recently I have joined as a member of Family Routes Adoption Panel.  

What do you like to do in your free time?  I re-upholster old chairs, and thoroughly enjoy going for a walk while catching up on Podcasts.

All time favourite TV show? ER and The West Wing.

Barbara Williams

Barbara Williams

 Adoption Service Manager

Qualifications:   BA; Diploma in Social Studies; CQSW.

Experience:   40+ years experience in adoption.  I enjoy working with people and making families.

What do you like to do in your free time?  Walking – often with my dogs, gardening.

All time favourite TV show? Grace and Frankie.

Lynda Wilson CBE

Lynda Wilson CBE

Chief Executive

Lynda began her career as a social worker in 1971 with the Country Antrim Welfare in the Family & Child Care Team based in Lisburn.

In 1986, having been a Senior Social Work Team Leader in both Lisburn and South Belfast, she moved to Barnardo’s NI as a Project Leader to establish Northern Ireland’s first professional foster care service for ‘hard to place’ young people.

In 1987 she became Director of Barnardo’s Northern Ireland, a position she held until 2019.

Key milestones included becoming a founding member of Focus on Children, a member of the Washington Peace for Children delegation and addressing the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in 1996.

In 1997 Lynda was nominated as the Chair of the Victims Education Bursary by the Northern Ireland Office.

Lynda also acquired £7million inward investment for Barnardo’s NI from Atlantic Philanthropies to adapt, license and implement a number of evidence-based programmes to scale in the UK.

In 2006, Lynda was awarded the CBE for services to families and children in Northern Ireland.

Memberships have included the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland, the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership, the Atlantic Grantee Network (All Ireland) and various inter-departmental groupings.

What do you like to do in your free time? Nothing too adventurous, travel, reading, cooking and eating.

All time favourite TV show? This Is Us – of course about adoption and family history.

Emma Graham

Emma Graham

Qualifications: BSc, PGCE Education

Experience: 17 years teaching Primary and Post Primary, 4 years Good Relations Project Management for Netball NI

In my free time: Horse riding, playing netball, hanging out with my dogs

Favourite TV shows: Friends & Schitts Creeked.