Phoenix Rising:MK

Staff Team

Adrian Pinckard

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 team which was set up to make a contemporary photo documentation of Northamptonshire, as well as process, print and archive the many thousands of 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.

Following this, Adrian was Director of leading community arts charity, Inter-Action MK for three years.

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! I agree with the statement by the great photographer and art educator Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: "The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of 'how to do' . 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

Sarah Bament

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 ahmed

Support team

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.

Jenny Hopkins

Session Lead

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.

Max Keogh

Support team

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.

Moira Roskilly


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.

Karina Streeton

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.

Mags Wells


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.

Joe West

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.

Anita Whitton

Music & Singing

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.

John Whitton

Lead: Music & singing

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)

Resident D.J.

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.

Julie lack

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.

Chloe Gutteridge

Support team

"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."

Andrew Hill

Media Team Support & 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!

Sian Humphreys

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."

Rebekah Phillipson

Support Team