Meet the team

Maria Lyle, Director of the RAF FF

Maria Lyle, Director

I joined the RAF Families Federation in late 2018 after a varied career – including serving in the RAF, working in leadership roles in local and central government, and most recently as a Director for a large IT Operations specialist. 

I am passionate about voicing the concerns of Serving Personnel and families to policy makers and senior leaders, and trying to ensure that the Federation team represents you all.  Whether you are single, in a relationship, have children – or have other caring responsibilities – the Federation is here for you and wants to understand your experiences and challenges.  Please get in touch and raise issues with us via the ‘log an issue’ route on the website.  It really does make a difference.

Image of Ruth McClelland as office manager of the RAF FF

Ruth McClelland, Office Manager

As Office Manager I am often the first point of contact and am responsible for all aspects of the office including health & safety, travel requirements and resources.

Having been married to a ‘Heavy’ for over 30 years I followed my husband around and have encountered the ups and downs of changes in my career path. Working any job around family life with flexibility to accommodate the RAF requirements of my husband. I worked in a bank (cleaning lol) and various shops, pubs and offices. I spent nearly 15 years in prisons, working in various departments and have successfully pulled all this experience together and utilise these skills in this position.

Caroline Woodward, RAF FF Comms Manager

Caroline Woodward, Communications Manager

I have been at the Families Federation now for five+ years having previously worked in various comms and marketing roles in the third sector. 

I absolutely love promoting the work of the Families Federation through our many channels. (Nick says I’m a complete pain to work with if I haven’t been out on the road at least once each week – obviously tricky at the moment!). This includes sharing what news and services are out there in the wider armed forces community which personnel and families can tap into (there are hundreds!).  

I also still feel lucky to be the editor of Envoy – our free quarterly magazine and by having my feelers out and gathering content, there is still so much to listen to and learn about life in the RAF! I’m always on the hunt for good content so f you have a story you’d like to tell, please do get in touch.

Image of Mr Nick Crouch, Communications Assistant at the RAF FF

Nick Crouch, Communications Assistant

I started my career as an apprentice draughtsman and my working life has been in a variety of industries and roles from working on gas pipelines to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for the RAF. Latterly, for almost 20 years, I earnt my living in the publishing and marketing sectors, which stood me in good stead for my current position.

My daily jobs here include graphic design, co-ordinating all of our social media, gathering and posting news onto our website (I have to admit I’m a bit OCD on GoogleAnalytics) along with building and sending out our weekly eBulletin.

Jade Coe, Web Content Officer

I’m the newest addition to the team, joining in April 2020. I am from a technology marketing background and bring with me a wealth of digital knowledge which will complement the great work being done.

In my role, I’ll be working closely with Caroline and Nick to grow and enhance the online content available for RAF personnel and their families. Particularly around sharing information in order that informed decisions can be made towards overseas postings. (Comments are welcome!)

Richie Morgan, Support and Outreach Team Manager

I joined the Team in October 2019 having served in the Royal Air Force for over 37 years in Human Resources. Throughout my career I have been responsible for supporting Service personnel and their families in need of welfare support.  I am an advocate for ensuring all members of the Royal Air Force Family are appropriately represented when highlighting concerns.  

Gathering evidence is fundamental in presenting evidence to affect change and I encourage all to utilise the ‘Report an Issue‘ button on the Families Federation website. 

Stan Brathwaite, Evidence Assistant (Housing Specialist) at the RAF FF

Stan Brathwaite, Support and Outreach Team

With 38 years as a communications electronic engineer in the RAF and a further three years in the same roles as a contractor in the MOD, at all of the very interesting isolated detachments has sculpted a highly polished cynic of all things establishment-related.  However as a young thrusting Corporal, the moves between five stations, eight married quarters and the associated family disruption in a nine-year period was the last straw that saw me and my wife scrambling into the private housing market. That was the precursor for the mortgage rates to rise exponentially, 15% or more, oops! We stoically dug in and survived. Does this qualify me to represent families? You might think not, however in my defence, I find it a privilege to assist RAF families and serving personnel, especially as a number of organisations seem to need more than a gentle reminder of the very important role that you all play in the defence of the realm.

Gregory Timlin, Evidence Assistant at the RAF FF.

Gregory Timlin, Support and Outreach Team

I joined the RAF Families Federation in July 2019 as an Evidence Assistant and act as one of the main points of contacts to enquiries coming in to us. I am married to a serving RAF Officer and so have personal experience of a lot of the issues that are commonly raised to the Families Federation and have made use of their support myself.

I have worked in a variety of HR and Project Management roles in the Public Sector (FCO and MOD) and various private sector companies/industries. The common theme in the roles I have enjoyed is helping people and resolving their issues and I hope to continue this in my current role.

Image of Ken Wood, Evidence Assistant at the RAF FF.

Ken Wood, Support and Outreach Team

I started in the Families Federation in April 2019 and am enjoying being one of the main points of contact for serving personnel or families who contact us with concerns or enquiries. 

I was in the Royal Air Force for 22 years as a Mechanical Transport Driver from 1987 to 2008 and in this time I served in various roles and units including RAF Innsworth,  in the Netherlands on a NATO Unit, RAF Henlow and RAF Saxa Vord. I also completed various out-of-area tours throughout my career. After leaving the RAF I went to work at HMP Peterborough in various roles from a Prison Officer to an Offender Supervisor. Finally working in a Public Protection department working alongside the Police and other outside agencies such as Probation and Children’s Services.

Image of Lisa Thipthorp, Policy and Operations Manager at the RAF FF

Lisa Thipthorp, Policy and Operations Manager

I made the natural move from RAF Association Welfare Project Manager to the RAF Families Federation in 2015 and have enjoyed every minute (well, mostly!) since I arrived.  To be part of a committed team of experts whose purpose is to make life better for our serving personnel and their families is a very good reason to get out of bed in the morning!

Being the Policy and Operations Manager has allowed me to get closer to some of the vast number of research projects being conducted around the country (and abroad).  Research and evidence is at the heart of everything we do so it is vital that we work closely with these institutions. Happily, academics are very keen to ensure the voice of the family is heard and we are keen to ensure work is ongoing in the policy areas where greatest change and most significant positive impact is felt.

Image of Alison Cotton, Policy Advisor (Health and Additional Needs) at the RAF FF.

Alison Cotton, Policy Advisor (Health & Additional Needs)

I am delighted to be taking up this role with the RAF Families Federation and using my knowledge and experience to benefit members of the RAF and their families. I am moving out of Education, where I have had a full career, most recently in the area of Special Educational Needs (SEN).

In March 2019, I also completed a three year MSc in Global Military Veterans and Families Studies at Anglia Ruskin University.  My studies included reviewing the research around the area of the psychological impact of deployment on military personnel and the mental health of children who have a parent who has been deployed. My final assignment focussed on the importance of educating healthcare professionals, such as GPs and Nurses, to have an awareness of the military lifestyle and culture and to understand how it may impact on military personnel and their families’ lifestyle, health and behaviour. 

Image of Louise Briggs, Policy Advisor (Education and Childcare) at the RAF FF.

Louise Briggs, Policy Advisor (Education and Childcare)

I have worked for the RAF Families Federation since October 2016, initially as the Transition Liaison Manager, on a funded project collaborating with the Naval and Army Families Federation to produce a report. This report was about families’ experiences of transition to civilian life, called ‘Lifting the Lid on Transition – the families’ experience and the support they need.’ The work was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust and was published in November 2018. 

Since March 2019, I have been in this new role as Policy Advisor for Education and Childcare and am thoroughly enjoying working in this new field, understanding policy and initiatives and helping RAF serving personnel and families in this key area that impacts so many.  This also nicely utilises my professional background in Higher Education administration and management.

After growing up as a military child, I am now a military wife – married to a serving RAF Officer since 2002 with two children.  Last year, my husband left regular service and joined the full time reserve service and we are now settled in Lincolnshire enjoying a new lease of life with stability and the ability to actually plan life!