Meet the team: Our Mobility Leads

David Lipka Head of Mobility – United Kingdom

David joined us in 2014 when we received funding from Comic Relief to run a brand new Care Home programme in Sheffield. He has gradually extended his role to include responsibility for the management and standards of our Balanced Lives mobility programme nationally. He currently runs a very successful Balanced Lives Programme at a Residential Home in Sheffield. Evaluations after the initial 12-week programme indicated clear benefits for participants, including a general sense of well-being and more positive attitude. “I was extremely pleased,” beams David, “as the evaluation also found that people had achieved better balance, along with greater independence by being able to stand and sit independently. In fact, overall they had much greater flexibility.”

David has been teaching professionally for the last 17 years. An advanced instructor with the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain, he is also trained in traditional Chinese Medicine and Shiatsu. As well as offering classes for the general public and running his own school, David has developed a widely acknowledged expertise in working with people with specific health concerns. 

 

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David Clyant Mobility Lead – Wales & West Midlands

David is our longest serving mobility lead and has been working with us since we launched in 2012. He is now helping to expand the services of Action For Elders across Wales and the West Midlands. David lives near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. His teaching spans a wide area including Hereford, Barry and Swansea. David is an authorised Senior Instructor within the Taoist Arts Organisation. The TAO was formed in 1995 and is a senior member of the Sports Council.

The trademarked Balanced Lives Programme is recommended by GPs and 100% evidenced based. It is an exciting innovative system combining many different elements. “Part of the role of the programme is advising people, not just in physical movement but in their overall approach to life,” says David, who feels there is a marked shift in people’s mealtime habits. “The biggest change I observe is that people no longer stick to the advice: ‘Breakfast like a king, midday meal like an emperor and evening meal like a pauper.' If people did, they would enjoy better energy levels and usually with less pain.” 

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Betty Sutherland Mobility Lead – York & the North

Betty joined us in 2015 to launch our first Balanced Lives programme in York and has been with us ever since. Betty likes us so much she is about to launch our third Balanced Lives programme in this great city. She is a Tai Chi practitioner with over 20 years experience and was born in Balloch, Scotland “on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond,” as she puts it. Betty is now based in North Yorkshire.

Betty has a unique mix of empathy and understanding of people; she originally took up teaching for personal reasons. “I initially started doing Tai Chi for my own health and to help me manage stress. I loved the interaction with people so I soon became a teacher. I’m local authority approved and qualified to teach in the Education sector.” Betty teaches all ages and is a leading authority in teaching Tai Chi to children in schools. She delivers Adult Education courses for local authorities, for the NHS and in the private sector. Away from her work Betty’s main interest is horse riding. She is married to Dougie and they recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. 

 

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Mike Hart Mobility Lead – Swansea  

Mike has also been around since our early days in 2013, usually as a holiday/illness replacement. We liked him so much we made him part of the permanent team in 2017. Mike has a wealth of experience having spent nearly 40 years teaching and training. He runs a weekly Balanced Lives programme at the ExtraCare scheme, Hazel Court in the Sketty area of Swansea. “I specialise in adapting the Chinese health arts for the older adult,” says Mike. “Currently, I coach over 100 people in the local community helping with mobility, flexibility and related conditions. Having dealt with a number of injuries and problems myself over the decades I can fully understand the pain and discomfort that people feel."

British novelist Lee Child’s action-packed Jack Reacher novels are a favourite, but Mike doesn’t see himself as full-time action hero, he’s more of a family man. “I have two grown up girls and four grandchildren to keep me busy. I read a lot of health articles and like to keep up with the latest developments. I have learnt from experience that it is never too late to give up thinking about health and wellbeing in later life.” 

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Ray Pawlett Mobility Lead – Peterborough  

Ray joined us in 2017 and is our newest Mobility Lead, responsible for our Werrington Programme in Peterborough. A highly experienced teacher and Tai Chi medal winner, Ray’s clients have included people with dementia, Parkinson's Disease and those recovering from cancer therapy. In 2009, Ray spent much of his time helping his mother who was ill with cancer. He specialises in energy building and resilience. As an Energy Arts teacher/therapist he has helped people deal with many aspects of chronic fatigue including fibromyalgia and ME. “The biggest lessons we learn are from life, not from our teachers and I have worked with people of all fitness levels to achieve positive results in later life.”

Ray is married to Tracy and lives in the Lincolnshire fens with two dogs and a cat. He’s a keen (amateur) guitarist with interests that include folk music, gardening and cooking. “It is several miles to the nearest restaurant, so I have become quite a reasonable cook in the past few years.”