Directors Biographies


Anne joined the board of Engage with Age in 2014.  Anne is Chairperson of the Belfast East Seniors’ Forum.  She qualified as a state registered nurse in 1960, and worked in the community within North Down and Ards Occupational Therapy Team from 1976 to 2001.

She represents the Belfast East Seniors Forum on the Greater Belfast Seniors Forum (G6), and volunteers within her local community, taking a lead with the Winter Wanderers walking group, and facilitating arts and crafts sessions.


Leigh joined the board of Engage with Age in 2019.  She is also a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership and a Volunteer Mentor with the Prince’s Trust. She has a particular interest in dementia and inter-generational engagement. 

Leigh works at the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator’s Consumer Protection function, focusing on the interests of vulnerable customers.  Leigh has worked in the energy sector for the past ten years, having previously been Senior Regulation Specialist for SONI, the electricity system operator in Northern Ireland, with responsibility for strategic stakeholder management, governance and compliance.  


Robert joined the board of Engage with Age in 2018.  He has been a social work lecturer since September 2014 and in a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Manchester Metropolitan university.  His primary research interests focus upon gerontological social work.  Prior to becoming an academic, he worked in social work services for almost 15 years, working in children services.  He led a community-based drugs programme and has also worked in social housing and homelessness and for the Citizens Advice Bureau. 

He has extensive volunteer experience as a youth worker and has been a phone advisor for Childline.  Experienced in working with community organisations that provide services for older people, Robert is currently a member of the British Society of Gerontology, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Before retirement Francis worked as a trained accountant.  He was on the board of Age Sector Platform, serving as its Chair for two years.  Francis has served on the board of Shop Mobility, has been Treasurer of Finaghy Friendship Group, and is a member of the South Belfast Lifestyle Forum.

Francis sits on the IMTAC committee that address the travel needs of older people, and is also a volunteer with Cruise to assist persons dealing with the grief process.  Francis is also a former Trustee of Engage with Age.


Sinead joined the board of Engage with Age in 2018. She works with Queen’s University of Belfast, and has previously been a Housing Support Worker for Clanmill Housing based in Mullan Mews, a supported living centre for people living with dementia.
She has co-ordinated the Mullan Mews Carer’s Support Group, and works with the Belfast East Seniors’ Forum and the Dementia Friendly East Belfast campaign. Sinead harnesses a range of activities in her practice including arts, crafts, digital media, film, and social media.


Gillian joined the board of Engage with Age in 2012 and served as its Chairperson from 2013 to 2017. Gillian works as a Senior Environmental Health Officer with Belfast City Council. For ten years her role with the council involved working on the Age Friendly Belfast programme, co-ordinating the Belfast City Council Age Friendly Plan, working with a range of agencies and also older people. She represents Belfast for the World Health Organisation’s Healthy Cities programme. Gillian is also a volunteer scout leader.

Joan McEwan

Joan is the Associate Director for Policy and Public Affairs for Marie Curie in Northern Ireland.  For over ten years she has worked with health & social care colleagues and decision makers to improve care within Northern Ireland, working closely with the government Departments.  She has campaigned on issues affecting people impacted by terminal illness including older people, palliative care, and bereavement support.  Joan is a non-executive Board Member for the Department of Education.  Previous to working with Marie Curie, Joan worked in the Banking Sector and has extensive experience of Corporate Governance, and also finance management.

Zoë Rowe

Zoë was a Registered Adult and Mental Health Nurse, enjoying a rewarding career within the NHS in England.  She was also a licensed Acupuncturist, integrating this treatment within her work for many years.  Prior to retirement, Zoë was a Deputy Director of Nursing, Allied Health Professionals and Quality within a mental health and learning disabilities NHS Trust.  Other roles included Head of Quality and Patient Experience, and Head of Clinical Governance.  Following retirement, Zoë relocated to Northern Ireland with her wife to be near family.  She now has a rewarding part-time role within a Funeral Directors in Belfast as a funeral arranger.

Marianne Skelcher, Chairperson

Marianne worked in the public and not for profit sectors in England.  She undertook executive roles in Human Resources with housing associations, and non-executive  roles with the NHS, and SMEs.  Prior to retirement Marianne ran her own consultancy business specialising in leadership coaching, governance, strategic reviews and board effectiveness.  Marianne was a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.  Having retired, Marianne moved to Belfast to be near family.

Engage with Age can accept referrals of individual older people aged 50+ who are at risk of loneliness and social isolation, inviting them to participate in group activities. Engage with Age offers one-to-one telephone befriending support for individual older people but does not currently provide in person visits to individual older people. To make a referral please complete the on-line Referral Form and submit or alternatively please print off a copy of the PDF Referral Form and send it to us. See also the Referral Criteria for details of who can be referred.

Referral Form Referral Criteria