As of 1st August 2023, the team comprises:
- Michael McGrath MBE DL and founder, CEO & Chief Muscle Warrior*
A role model to many, Michael's life's mission is MHF's work, underpinned by a desire to not only enrich the lives of others with muscular dystrophy, through powerful shared interventions but also elevate knowledge, understanding and awareness of the same disease that's slowly robbing him of his own mobility and independence.
Other team members include:
- Kate Barnbrook, Trust & Grants Fundraiser (c)
- Mel Dowie, MHF Bookkeeper (c)
- Sonali Kumarakulasinghe, Governance, OD & HR/Resourcing (v)
- Sarah Lowther, MHF Charity Awards (v)
- Liam Woollard, Graphic Designer (v)
- Charlotte Gibling + Ryan Tym, Brand Guardians (v)
- Rosemary Adams, Beneficiary Evaluation, Data & Impact Analyst (v)
(v) denotes volunteer
(c) denotes consultant
*As MHF’s only full-time paid member of staff, Michael is responsible for the daily operational management of the charity’s affairs and is accountable to the Trustee Board. He has muscular dystrophy (LGMD2A) and is a permanent powerchair user.
As the figurehead and driving force behind MHF, Michael plays a pivotal role in propelling the charity forwards on a daily (24/7) basis – he also contributes heavily (>70%) to service delivery. Affectionately known as the Chief Muscle Warrior, Michael personally hosts the delivery of all Muscle Dream interventions, be they virtual or face-to-face, whenever possible.
A long-standing advocate in promoting the D&I (diversity & inclusion) agenda, Michael has had several 'thought leader' pieces published in journals including HRD (HR Director) where insights about workplace authenticity, leadership, disability and sport are explored including being referred to by a critical friend as 'an inconvenient truth’ and also characterized as a ‘technical fault’ by an East Coast Trains announcer as the train pulled out of Doncaster having made an unscheduled ‘call-of-nature’ stop.
Named in the Power 100 publication (2019, 2018, 2017 & 2016) as one of Britain's most influential disabled people, Michael was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts (2018) by the University of Hertfordshire, in 'recognition of his motivational and inspirational work for persons with a disability'. His 9 minute speech on the 3rd September 2018 at the Cathedral & Abbey Church of St Alban was underpinned by a plea to graduates to 'make the discovery of their own purpose a key priority'.
Michael was appointed in July 2019 to represent the Crown as a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) in Hertfordshire, a voluntary role and in September 2019, he was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. In December 2022, after 25yrs living in Hertfordshire, Michael relocated with his wife Susie to Hampshire (UK) to be closer to family. In June 2023, Michael was awarded an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours List, for Services to People with Muscular Dystrophy.
A sought after speaker, Michael is invited by private, public and third sector organisations to speak at conferences, events and away days in addition to delivering bespoke masterclasses - current prevalent keynote topics include: resilience, leadership, change, risk, teamwork and diversity.
“Michael’s polar achievements are extraordinary triumphs of physical and mental endurance, and should serve as a reminder to us all that, in his own words, 'our limits are often far beyond where we may assume them to be" (SOURCE: Alexandra Shackleton, one of Michael's South Pole Expedition Patrons & the only granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton).
Michael's deeply moving and empowering talk entitled 'The Power of the Polar Hug' at Europe's largest TEDx event in 2018 hosted by the University of Warwick explores the power of possible - keen for the message of hope, human connectivity, kindness and compassion to reach as many people globally with muscular dystrophy, you can help spread the message by watching and sharing Michael's talk which you'll find on his LinkedIn profile.