Meet our Board

Commitment to Care

Stephen Kennedy

Stephen was elected as Chair of the Board in January 2021 and has served on the Board since October 2018.

Stephen’s background is in facilities management and he had a long career with Belfast City Hospital where he also was a member of the Executive Council of a large Trade union.

Stephen has loved animals all his life and currently he and his wife enjoy the companionship of two dogs and two cats.

His key priority is on improving education on animal welfare and animal wellbeing.

Freda Waite

Freda joined the Board in October 2019 and has also volunteered her time in Reception at the Sanctuary since 2016.

Now retired, Freda has had a varied career working in communications and business management as well as running her own business.

Freda has owned dogs for over 50 years and is passionate about animal welfare.  At present she shares her life with a chihuahua and three Yorkshire terriers, one of whom was adopted from the Sanctuary.

Ian Dodds

Ian is currently the Treasurer of the Board, having joined  November 2021.

Ian has a background in the voluntary sector working regionally, nationally and internationally in project management, strategic management as well as providing operational support often during times of humanitarian crises.  His work has supported a number of animal welfare and nature conservation operations internationally.

Ian loves nothing more than experiencing the freedom of the hills and the natural environment with Willow, his adopted Sanctuary dog.

Patricia Ball

Patricia joined the Board in November 2021 and has been a supporter of the Sanctuary for many years.

Patricia’s background is in education and she was a qualified science teacher before moving into Special Needs Education where she remained until she retired.

Animal welfare has always been of paramount importance to Patricia and she is keen to raise awareness of animal welfare through education.

Danielle Hollinger

Danielle joined the Board in February 2022 and she has a background in governance and policy management within local government.  Danielle also has previous experience working in the voluntary sector in both income generation and event management.

Danielle loves spending time with her husband and their Newfoundland, Bomber.

Animal welfare and education are matters close to her heart.

Robin Bates

Robin became a Board member in February 2022 and has been a supporter of the Sanctuary for a number of years.

Robin has over twenty years’ experience as a dog trainer and behaviourist, running classes and one to one sessions to help dogs with behavioural issues.  Robin more recently has started to deliver courses in dog training skills.

He has supported the Sanctuary in rehoming long-term dogs and is an advocate for animal welfare.

Gillian Stirling

Gillian’s background is in accountancy and she has worked in a large Accounting firm with clients across a range of sectors focusing on strategic turnaround situations. She participated in the Boardroom Apprentice Programme in 2021 which provided training and experience on a local departmental public sector board.
Gillian has always been passionate about animal welfare, something which was instilled growing up on the family farm.

Bill Atkinson

Bill joined the Board in April 2023.  He has 40 years experience across various sectors with 30 years experience in management or leadership roles with the past 15 years being spent within the 3rd/social enterprise sector.

Bill has a range of qualifications including a BA in Business Studies, MA in Human Resource Management and Msc in Business Improvement, all awarded by the University of Ulster.

Bill is a keen dog lover with 2 Dalmatians and has owned Dalmatians for almost 25 years.

Emma Cassidy

Emma has over ten years of experience in the busy communications offices of international human rights organisations. Since 2018, she has been working with The Public Interest Litigation Support (PILS) Project, the Belfast-based human rights organisation dedicated to helping local NGOs and solicitors to use the law for social change. Before she joined PILS, Emma was based in Brussels, Budapest and Dublin.

As part of the Boardroom Apprentice Class of 2022, Emma undertook a 12-month placement with the board of the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland. This experience, combined with her lifelong love of dogs, encouraged her to join the Sanctuary’s Board in July 2023. Outside of work, Emma can usually be found in a park or on the beach walking her rescue greyhound Jean, who she adopted in early 2023.

Helen Kerr

Helen joined the board in June 2023 with experience of working in the third sector for over 13 years. She is passionate about the work of charities and social enterprises, and is particularly experienced in income generation, organisational development, strategic planning and communications.
Helen is a lifelong lover of animals, particularly dogs. Her beloved dog, Bentley, sadly passed away in 2022 having rescued him from an animal shelter after being abandoned as a puppy over 15 years ago. Helen believes all rescue animals should have a loving, family home where they can live out the rest of their lives, just like Bentley found his forever home, and so was delighted to join the board of Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary to support our work in making this possible.