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Meet the Team

From our small beginnings in a home office, Special iApps has come to be a name recognised by parents and professionals across the globe. Founded by Bev and Colin in 2011, our team has steadily grown to provide us with the expertise to reach more children than ever before.

Beverley Dean MBE - Founder and President

Bev founded Special iApps in 2011 with her husband, Colin. Their younger son, William, who was born in 2005, has Down syndrome and autism. 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 was the original designer of our apps, and manages our development team and I.T. systems.

Colin obtained his PhD from Cambridge University, then lectured Physics at Exeter University before working in various hi tech IT companies in Cambridge. Later he taught mathematics in school, took part in educational research at the Durham University's CEM centre, and designed and managed large-scale systems at the University's computing service.

Colin has spoken at conferences and other events in the UK, US and Europe. He has delivered training workshops in the UK to teachers, speech therapists and parents, as well as to Down syndrome and autism groups in countries including the UK, Norway, Ukraine and Albania.

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.

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.

Lauren Royal - App Illustrator and Website Graphic Designer

Lauren studied at University of Sunderland where she completed her B.A. in Illustration & Design and Masters in Design.

After completing her degrees, Lauren had a one year internship with an advertising acency to gain industry experience and develop her design skills.

Lauren enjoys producing artwork in a vector style, creating clean and simple illustrations which can be used to communicate a message. Lauren's interests include walking, going to concerts and gaming.

Danae Peguero-Bueno - Translation & Localisation Coordinator

Danae has worked in architecture conservation for over ten years. She has given lectures and received various training worldwide, in countries such as the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, the United States, Chile, and the Dominican Republic.

Through being exposed to different cultures and ways of being, she has developed a passion for the subject, learning different languages, and exploring ways of creating a platform of inclusivity in all her projects.  

Danae has a B.A. in Architecture from Pedro Henríquez Ureña University and a MSc in Architectural Conservation from the University of Edinburgh. She is currently finishing her PhD studies in Media, Culture and Heritage at Newcastle University. 

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 had 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.

William Dean - Chief Happiness Officer

William is Bev and Colin's younger son, born in 2005 with Down syndrome, duodenal atresia, Hirschsprung's disease, hypothyroidism and hearing impairment. He underwent abdominal surgery on a number of occasions, and was later diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

William tests and demonstrates our apps, appears in photos and videos, and makes sure that everyone has a smile on their face.

William attends his local mainstream secondary (high) school, where he particularly likes working out in the gym and washing up after cooking.  In his spare time, William goes swimming, is a member of the local scout group, and enjoys watching CBeebies on TV.