At Phoenix Rising: MK we are extremely fortunate and proud to have a hard working,
caring, dedicated and diverse staff team.
Director & Photography Lead
After graduating with an Honours degree in Fine Art from the University of Wales in 1985, Adrian began his career as a professional documentary photographer on the Northamptonshire Heritage Interpretation Project which was set up to make a contemporary photo documentation of Northamptonshire, as well as process, print and archive the many thousands of historical glass & nitrate negatives held by the library.
Following this, Adrian worked on a number of artist's residences in several schools delivering sessions in photography and printmaking before moving into teaching, initially part time and then full time.
Adrian gained over 25 years' experience in the Further & Higher Education sector including 12 years as Head of The Creative & Performing Arts Department at M.K. College where he expanded the provision from Entry Level programmes up to Degree level. He has a post graduate teaching certificate in further & higher education.
From 2012 to 2015 Adrian was Director of leading community arts charity, Inter-Action MK.
In 2015, Adrian co -founded PHOENIX RISING:MK with his partner Sarah Bament.
About working with the photography group Adrian says:
"There's not a week goes by when I don't learn something about approaching the medium of photography from people who are labelled in our society as "learning disabled". It's incredibly refreshing and liberating to work alongside people who approach the medium with total freedom, carrying none of the "baggage" of the accepted rules of photography, or preconceptions of what photographs should look like - which is often a hindrance to creativity for many experienced photographers. Very different to teaching 'mainstream' students where I spent a lot of the time trying to get them to un-learn all the pre-learned 'baggage' and see with fresh eyes! I don't, won't & shouldn't try to impose my own views or creative ideas on them, or get in the way of their individual vision. I just show them how the camera works, support them and then let them get on with it. Photography is relatively easy; Creativity isn't! The group members' pictures are always totally honest, direct and come, unfiltered, straight from the heart! What a fantastic privilege it is for me! "
Alongside running Phoenix Rising, Adrian maintains an independent career as a practising artist photographer with a track record of exhibitions on a regional and national level spanning over 35 years. Adrian's work can be seen on his website at adrianpinckard.com:
Co-Director, Programme Coordinator & Art Lead
Sarah has over 25 years’ teaching experience in both the mainstream and learning disabled sectors in Schools and Further education. She also has wide experience of working in the youth sector as well as being a visiting artist providing creative workshops in schools and other settings. Sarah also worked as a freelance artist for many years undertaking various private commissions.
Sarah holds both an Honours Degree in Fine Art, a Masters Degree in Fine Art Printmaking and a post graduate teaching qualification.
Sarah has a passion for art and all things creative and working with children and adults with learning support and or disabilities.
After leaving full time teaching Sarah, along with her partner Adrian, established Phoenix Rising in 2014.
Nicola joined Phoenix Rising in 2018 and leads/supports our art and Out & About sessions.
Nicola has always been fortunate to have worked within a creative environment.
Nicola started her career working as a children's wear and lingerie designer/pattern cutter, designing for large retail outlets. She was a lecturer and Course Leader at M.K. College for nearly 20 years, teaching Fashion, Textiles, Surface Pattern and Mixed Media as well as providing pastoral support to groups and individual students. Nicola has a postgraduate teaching qualification.
Alongside this, Nicola also maintains her own working practice making handmade bespoke wedding bouquets and creating mixed media/textile artwork and accessories for interiors.
Victoria is currently in her final year of a BA degree in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion. It was through this degree that she first joined us at Phoenix for work experience in January. It was such a good fit that both parties were keen to make it official and Victoria came to work with us again in the summer and will be continuing working with Phoenix alongside her studies.
Victoria initially started her career in IT support managing teams of both incident and request management services. However IT was never something she was passionate about and she soon got tired of dreaming of spreadsheets. Following a career break spent looking after her young children, Victoria decided on a career change to something more fulfilling and worked in care and with SEN schools as a supply teaching assistant while attending university. It soon became clear that she had a passion for working in neurodiverse settings and working alongside individuals with learning difficulties and disabilities so consequently chose her degree to follow her passion and focus her career in the field of SEN as she could no longer imagine doing anything else!
"I didn’t really enjoy school or college but when I left college I started volunteering at Phoenix Rising. Then I was offered a wonderful opportunity to work at Phoenix and I took it! Best decision I’ve ever made.
I love working with Phoenix Rising because everyone is so kind and each day is so different but filled with so much joy! Everyone just always has a smile on their face and I feel so lucky to be part of an amazing team."
Media, I.C.T. Photography ... & Accounts Administrator
With his love of numbers and understanding of spreadsheets and web design, Andrew is a useful chap working behind the scenes at PhoenixMK. A neighbour in the early 2000s, he has always been close to Adrian and Sarah and supported them in their new endeavours over the years.
Educated at St Albans School and St Andrews University, Andrew’s career included running his own business development consultancy, teaching at Dunstable College and Middlesex University and chairing the Learning & Skills Development Agency’s E-learning Forum. His heart has always been in writing and design, though, and he says that he is never, ever bored and can keep himself occupied with a pencil and piece of paper for days if necessary. Spare time is hard to find, though, with plenty to do sending out and chasing our invoices and answering our IT queries!
A very versatile chap, Andrew now also leads on our regular Radio show which you can tune into on Tuesdays, fortnightly on Stony Radio!
Jenny joined the team in 2018. Prior to that, Jenny spent 30 years fostering children, starting off with short term fostering then concentrated more on fostering children with Special Needs for longer terms.
In 2001 Jenny took a job as a Teaching Assistant at Milton Keynes College working with Learners with Learning Difficulties or Disabilities. She then went on to complete a course in tutoring and becoming a tutor in LLDD. Jenny visited many different Day Care Centres where she taught Cookery skills as well as teaching on the Life Skills Course.
Support team & Volunteer
"I joined Phoenix Rising in 2021 and currently support sessions on Fridays and also help out at their events. I also work at MK college supporting Learners with Learning Difficulties or Disabilities."
Max has been with Phoenix Rising since its inception way back in 2014.
Max specialises primarily in offering 1-1 support for group members with specific communication needs across a range of sessions and activities. Combined with almost a decade of both voluntary and paid work, he has a varied range of experience, as well aiming to provide interpersonal skills that meets clients’ needs on their individual communication level.
Max is highly skilled in supporting people with learning difficulties and disabilities and bringing out the best in individuals via his excellent communication skills.
Support team & Volunteer
Julie joined Phoenix in September 2021 as a volunteer in Friday art sessions. She excelled in the role and enjoyed it so much that she accepted the offer to join the team in November to support media sessions on a Tuesday.
Julie has worked as a Speech and Language Therapist across various locations in Milton Keynes for nearly 30 years. Most recently she supported students with learning disabilities and autism at Slated Row School.
Moira joined Phoenix in January 2018 as a volunteer supporting Monday's Performing Arts sessions. She very much enjoyed her role supporting the group members in these sessions and used her previous experience of performing arts to help the group develop their skills, both socially and in the arts. She now supports the Photography group on a Wednesdays, which she loves. Moira worked as a teacher, for over 20 years, at Slated Row School, which caters for children with moderate to complex special educational needs, before she retired in July 2017. During her time there she taught students with additional learning needs and autism across the age ranges from 4-19 years.
I have over 23 years supporting people with various disabilities in many different care settings.
I started in Domiciliary supplying a range of services to support individuals in their own homes. I learnt so much about the difficulties individuals and their families face in their everyday lives and how giving the right balance of support and care can make such a difference to their future and quality of life. I learnt so many skills which can only be learnt while working on the job.
I have worked in Day Care settings for individuals with learning difficulties, complex care needs, Dementia and mental health.
I have worked with individuals with mental health illness including a mental health hospital. It taught me so much about how the mind works and how you reaction can cause either a positive or negative effect on individuals, state of mind.
I have worked with disabled children and their families in their homes to develop and increase their skills including language, social and cognitive skills. Play is a very important part of a child’s development and makes learning fun.
Hobbies and interests I have are: Dance, aerialist, cookery, skiing, running, yoga, pilates, fitness & exercise, Tai chi, and bouldering.
I am fun loving, party animal who loves meeting people from all different backgrounds, cultures and learning from their experience. I love to help individuals to achieve their hopes dreams and potential.
Session Lead: Performing Arts
Now freelance in the Arts in Education, Karina carries over 19 years of managing, teaching, writing and creative experience in both formal and private education establishments. Karina taught performing arts at M.K. College and was an Ofsted grade 1 standard teacher.
Karina programme managed and lectured across successful Performing Arts courses in Beds and Bucks and taught and managed privately across well known theatre schools.
Karina worked in partnership with an awarding body, writing professional qualifications and being part of a quality assessment team.
Karina has lead and developed creative arts sessions with PR:MK since it's founding in 2014.
We all call Mags " Marvellous Mags" but this is a highly inadequate nick-name and a gross understatement!
She is our longest serving volunteer and is a fantastic supporter of Phoenix Rising:MK giving so generously of her time & energy to help support our group members.
Media session lead
Joe has worked with children, young people and vulnerable adults for over 24 years, within a variety of roles.
Joe obtained a BSc Degree in Multi Media Design and Technology at Brunel University. He has used his knowledge and skills to teach young people in Media -based youth projects and Further Education.
Joe is a creative individual who likes to encourage and bring out the best in clients through good communication and innovation.
Joe also leads and supports the radio crew on our regular radio show on Stony Radio.
Music & Singing: Open Mic Nights
Anita began singing in a three part harmony trio studying vocals and playing guitar. She was 15 and had no idea that a life in music was ahead.
She sang in duos playing contemporary Folk and country style music in Norway.
Music through the 80s included playing keyboard and bass guitar followed by work at holiday resorts planning events and shows.
Anita has worked in a number of schools for young people with support needs. She now leads and supports the music sessions at Phoenix Rising.
Music & singing: Open Mic Nights
John’s early years included managing a music shop specialising in all types of stringed instruments before becoming a full time musician touring mainly Europe, Norway, Germany and Canary Islands.
Worked with bands in the 60s/70s as a guitar / vocalist and worked alongside many artists from that era followed by work in the entertainment industry for many years.
Music roots are country, rock and blues but he enjoys all genres of music.
'D.J. Mr. H'
(A.K.A. Howard Whitton)
(A.K.A. Howard Whitton)
Howard or 'Mr. H' as he is also known has been a group member of Phoenix Rising since it began in 2014! In addition to being a group member with excellent skills in art, photography and performing arts, he is also our resident D.J. who supports our Open Mic Nights as well as other events.
Mike has been working as an artist, workshop leader, clown, fire performer, stilt walker, balloon modeller and all round entertainer for over twenty years spreading smiles, excitement and creativity. With extensive experience working with SEND and youth groups he is able to find connections and help students develop their confidence and abilities. Using a blend of music, art, theatre, circus, clown, mime, music, puppetry, costume, dance, song and story telling Mike has been able to make lasting changes in those he has worked with and has found great joy in students' achievements.
Before joining the Phoenix team he worked at MacIntyre charity for six years running music and dance sessions and was nominated three times for the Margery Newton Wright awards as outstanding frontline practitioner.
During lock down he ran Zoom music sessions and helped his key student to write and (after lock down) eventually perform a pantomime as part of his Trinity college Silver arts award.
Mike toured India with the charity Performers without Borders where he helped devise, choreograph and perform the public show as well as making props and costumes. The show was used to promote the charity and to inspire the students. Spending a month in each location teaching skills and performance techniques before the students themselves performed their very own show for their local community.
Mike holds a Honours Degree in Fine Art Sculpture, City and Guilds in photography, EATS level 3 and is an assessor for Trinity College Arts Award Bronze and Silver.