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Who we are

Chief Executive: Bob Reitemeier CBE

Bob Reitemeier CBE

Bob became Chief Executive in January 2016 and has over 30 years’ experience in the voluntary sector in England and internationally. Prior to his appointment at I CAN, he was Chief Executive of Essex Community Foundation and Chief Executive of The Children’s Society. Internationally, Bob started his career as a secondary school teacher in Zaïre, followed by posts as Country Director for Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA) in Chad and Country Director for ActionAid in Bangladesh. He settled with his family in England in 1994.

Bob has served on several national Boards supporting children and young people, including The Youth Justice Board, the Social Work Task Force, the Children’s Workforce Development Council and as Chairman of Children England. He received a CBE for services to children in 2012.

Director of Operations: Clare Geldard

Clare Geldard

Clare qualified as a speech and language therapist in 1987. She is currently Director of Operations for I CAN and is responsible for the charity’s social enterprise operation, delivering I CAN’s effective, practical evidence-based solutions for children aged 0-19 years on a UK-wide basis and the development of new Early Years and Primary programmes and resources. She is also responsible for delivering the Early Language Development Programme, which has reached 12,000 practitioners to date. Before this she worked for North Staffordshire Health Authority and Chorley and South Ribble NHS Trust until 1999, ending up as Paediatric Manager and Acting Speech and Language Therapy Manager. She specialised in preschool and school aged children.

She has extensive experience as both a practitioner and a manager at delivering services.

Director of Outcomes and Information: Mary Hartshorne

Mary Hartshorne

Mary Hartshorne is I CAN’s Director of Quality and Outcomes, with responsibility for ensuring high quality, evidenced programmes of work. She also leads I CAN’s work with older children and young people, and leads I CAN’s Communications Team. She is a specialist speech and language therapist with many years experience of working in education - both as a practitioner and manager. Specific areas of interest are language and communication in secondary schools, and developing effective ways of measuring functional outcomes and impacts in language and communication.

She has authored many of I CAN’s discussion papers, notably The Cost to the nation of Children’s Poor Communication. She is currently studying for a PhD evaluating the impact of a whole school approach to supporting language and communication in secondary aged students.

Director of The Communication Trust: Octavia Holland

Octavia Holland

Octavia Holland is the Director of The Communication Trust, which is hosted by I CAN. The Trust is a consortium of 52 not for profit organisations working to support children and young people’s speech, language and communication in England, especially those who struggle as they have speech, language and communication needs. The Trust provides a range of resources, information, models and solutions for use in transforming and improving children’s communication, influences policy and legislation and supports the development of an informed and confident children’s workforce.

Before joining The Communication Trust in 2015 Octavia worked across central government and the charitable sector in delivery, policy and campaigning roles. Octavia most recently led policy, advice and communications for Gingerbread, the national single parent charity and prior to that spent four years as Chief Executive of Coram’s Fields, a children and young people's charity. Octavia spent the first ten years of her career in central government, in a range of policy and leadership roles for the Department of Children, Schools and Families.

Principal of Meath Centre: Janet Dunn

Janet Dunn - Meath School

Janet Dunn is one of I CAN’s longest serving staff members, with nearly 30 years of service (1986). Prior to working for I CAN, Janet spent time working in a primary school and then working with disillusioned adults who were NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training). She was seconded to the Institute of Education to complete a one year advanced diploma in special educational needs with a specialism in speech, language and communication.

For 24 years, Janet has been working as a headteacher and is currently the Principal of I CAN’s Meath School in Surrey for children with severe and complex communication difficulties, including Asperger’s Syndrome. Under Janet’s leadership, the school has grown from strength to strength. This was reaffirmed with Meath School’s most recent Ofsted results in 2011 which deemed the school ‘outstanding’ for a second time. There have been 7 successive ‘outstanding’ judgements for the residential department.

Janet was awarded an OBE in 2009 for her outstanding contribution and service to children with special educational needs and their families, recognising the commitment and dedication Janet has shown over three decades to children’s speech, language and communication.

Principal of Dawn House: Melsa Buxton

Melsa joined I CAN in June 2016 when she was appointed Principal of Dawn House, a school for children and young people aged 5 – 19, all of whom have severe or complex communication difficulties including Asperger syndrome. Dawn House is one of the very few non maintained schools to acquire specialist school status in Communication and Interaction. This was achieved through the integration of education, therapy and care in a highly specialised environment where all individuals are valued. 

Melsa brought a wealth of experience to the organisation having worked in both the Maintained and Independent Special Schools sector for 27 years. Over the course of her career Melsa has worked in Nursery, Primary and Secondary Special Schools 

Melsa has previously held 3 substantive Headships including the position of Executive Headteacher of a hard federation which incorporated 3 Special Schools. In Ofsted terms Melsa took her first school from ‘Satisfactory’ to ’Outstanding’ in just over 2 years and ensured that a failing Nursey provision she inherited went from ‘Special Measures’ to ‘Outstanding’ within a year. Melsa has also served as a Director of a Special Schools Company and been a Trustee of a local Cooperative Learning Trust.

Governors at I CAN's Meath School

Chair: Katharine Weston
Community Governors: Martin Lovegrove, Joe Eagle and Peter Cox
LA Governor: Sue North-Coombes
Co-opted Governor: Jackie Harrison, Janice Bibby and Helen Johnson
Parent Governor: Reama Shearman
Parent Governor: Gaelle Newland
Staff Governors: Janet Dunn OBE (Head Teacher), Debbie Hanson (Residential Services Manager), Maureen Laidlaw (OTA) and Pam Cosh (Class Teacher)

Governors at I CAN's Dawn House School

Chair: Judy Clegg
Parent Governor: Zoe Syson- Page / Tracey Green / Roy Gadsden / Bev Hancock
Co-opted Governors: Patricia Harman, Vice Principal, Vision West Notts
Co-opted Governors: Larry Brocklesby, Vice Principal, Portland College
Co-opted Governors: David Picken, Archdeacon of Newark
Staff Governors: Angela Child (Head Teacher), Michael Roach (Assessment Co-ordinator), Alan Dawson (Residential Care Officer) and Alison Wainwright (Speech and Language Therapist)
Elected Pupil Governors: Christian Mence and Alex Kendrick Allen
Clerk to the Governors: Maxine Stokes


Elizabeth Ainge
Michael Buerk
Shelley Conn
Sebastian Conran
Sam Crowther
Professor David Crystal
Hayley Cutts
Kate Garraway
Roger Graef OBE
Ben Mitchell
Reama Shearman


HM The Queen

Vice Presidents:

His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York
The Rt Rev The Lord Bishop of London
Susan Blackwood
Donald Chilvers
Sir John Craven
Howard Jacobs
Lesley James CBE
Oliver Thompson


Cooperative Bank Plc
1 Islington High Street
N1 9TR


Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP
31 Great George Street

Investment Advisors:

Capita Financial Group
2 The Boulevard
Geldard Road
LS12 6NT


Slaughter & May
One Bunhill Row

Registered Office:

I CAN Charity
31 Angel Gate (Gate 5)
Goswell Road