Children’s charity in Hornchurch starts 25th year with new CEO

A Hornchurch charity has marked the start of its 25th year with the appointment of a new CEO.

Tricia Cowdrey, 54, joined First Step, which supports and educates children with special needs and disabilities, at the beginning of the year.

The charity’s trustees said she was the natural choice with her wealth of knowledge from many years working with children and families.

She has previously worked as a social worker for children and families for 20 years in both the voluntary sector and for Essex County Council, before going to manage a team which included specialist teachers, educational psychologists, mental health workers and social workers.

She said: “I wanted to join the First Step team as, through my own personal and professional experiences, I have an understanding of the support the charity can provide.

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“I feel very strongly that children with special needs or disabilities should receive the highest quality services we can provide and should not be overlooked.

“I believe First Step provides children and just as importantly, their families, with positive life experiences and opportunities, which can enrich their lives.”

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She added: “I am very impressed with the level of expertise within the staff and their commitment to the children and their families - I am very pleased to be joining the team.”

Eileen Newman, chair of trustees at First Step, said: “We are delighted that Tricia has joined First Step and warmly welcome her. As we celebrate 25 years working within the community in Havering, this is a financially challenging time for us as a local charity.

“We value the marvellous contribution that local people make to our charity and are resolute in our continuing support for the children and families who use our services.”

The charity is marking its 25th year with various fundraising events throughout the year to raise money for its services. Supporters are also encouraged to continue to put their ‘Best Foot Forward for First Step’ and organise their own activities.

Tricia added: “Whether it’s holding a coffee morning, a dress down day or taking an idea from our Best Foot Forward fundraising pack, there are so many ways people can help us.

“The need for First Step is as great today as it was when we started in 1988 and we remain so grateful for everyone’s generous and dedicated support.”

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