Meet the Team

Beverley Dean MBE - Founder and President

Bev founded Special iApps in 2011 with her husband, Colin. Their younger son, William, was born in 2005 with Down syndrome and Hirschsprung's disease. Bev recognised the potential of devices like the iPad for helping children with learning disabilities, but couldn't find apps suitable for William, so she asked Colin to start writing some for him. In 2018 Bev was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Bev has a B.Sc. in Zoology from Queen Mary University of London, a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science from Newcastle University, and a Diploma in Management from the Chartered Management Institute, obtained at Durham University Business School. Prior to founding Special iApps, she worked in the I.T. and telecommunications industries.

Read Bev's story

Dr. Colin Dean - Chief Technology Officer

Colin is the programming brain behind all our apps, manages all our I.T. systems, and leads our training workshops.

Colin started his career as a lecturer at Exeter University, then went on to develop software and manage computer systems at a number of high-tech companies in Cambridge. Later, at Durham University, he was involved in educational research and testing analysis at the CEM Centre, and designing and managing large-scale services in the Computing and Information Services.

Colin has an M.A. in Natural Sciences and a Ph.D. in Physics, both from the University of Cambridge, and has been developing software since 1987.

Neil Stephenson - Non-Executive Director

An experienced Chairman, Non-Executive Director, CEO, Investor, Entrepreneur and Mentor. Neil is a very experienced and well-known figure in the UK business community, he invests in a range of different stage businesses and holds various board positions.

He is best known as the former CEO of the Onyx Group, where he managed the growth and development of this fast growing business focused internet and technology solutions company. Exploiting key strategic assets including large data centres, as well as executing a number of step change acquisitions to grow the business from less than £1m turnover to £30m. Neil exited the business in June 2016 when Onyx was acquired in a deal for £65m.

Dan Gilchrist - Sales and Marketing Manager

Dan joined Special iApps in 2018 with a wealth of experience in Sales and Technology. His previous role was at Apple, where for 5 years he worked closely with businesses and education in the North East of England, and collaborated in hosting business and education events. Prior to that, he spent 5 years at Vodafone, as a business advisor and assistant manager.

Dan's real passion for Special Needs comes from first-hand personal experience playing a vital role for his 8 year old nephew who has autism.

Dan has a B.A. in Music from Newcastle University and Level 1 in British Sign Language. He is a keen runner and has participated in a number of half marathons.

Rebecca Whitcombe – Digital & Social Media Coordinator

Rebecca has worked in a variety of roles in the arts, design and media industry. She has worked collaboratively on numerous exhibitions and projects in the UK, as well as overseas in Japan and Bosnia Herzegovina.

Through her travels she has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge on the digital landscape, recognising the important role social media can play in an organisation.

Rebecca has a B.A. in Photography, Video & Digital Imaging and a Masters in Curating, both from the University of Sunderland.

Penny Green - Digital Social Media Advocate

Penny is a bereaved parent who became involved in the Down Syndrome community in 1989 following the birth of her second son Daniel. Diagnosed with Down syndrome hours after birth, he also had medical problems including heart and bowel issues which resulted in his death at 100 days. Shortly after, Penny became a volunteer with the newly formed Down's Heart Group, and was the charity's Director from 2004 to 2016.

She manages the World Down Syndrome Day group on Facebook, is the parent representative on the Board of Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group (UK) and has a Nigerian goddaughter with Down Syndrome.

Penny was an a Torchbearer for the London 2012 Olympics representing the global Down Syndrome community and in 2015 received a World Down Syndrome Day Award from Down Syndrome International.

Joseph Dean - Voice Artist & Student Liaison

Joe is Bev and Colin's elder son. He was our original voice artist from the age of 11, and he can still be heard as the British voice of many of our apps. Since his voice dropped, he has moved on to acting as our student volunteer liaison officer and conference co-presenter.

Joe is currently a medical student at Newcastle University, where he also works as a student ambassador. He has a scholarship from Medic Mentor, with roles in coordinating and presenting at conferences. He is fluent in Makaton sign language.

Somehow, Joe also finds time for his piano and trombone, and to play the occasional match for Durham City Cricket Club.


We couldn't do what we do without a wonderful group of over 50 volunteers from around the world, who have given their time for free to assist us with translation, testing and much more.

Your support and dedication has enabled us to reach children in more than 100 countries.

You are stars

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