Meet the Team

AchieveNI Founder Mandy McDermott MBACP (Reg. Accred.) / Clinical Supervisor / Child Protection Trainer comes from a counselling background, having worked in inner-city agencies, communities and school settings. In 2006, Mandy was presented and honoured at 10 Downing Street by the Prime Minister as the national, overall recipient of the 'Britain's Children's Champion Award'. Mandy has contributed at Queen's University in developing and delivering training based on "awareness of child protection and effective remedial strategies" for social work graduates. Mandy has a personal and professional interest in raising awareness on the topic of sexual abuse/violence. She is a member of the Reid Family and is often invited as keynote speaker at conferences across the UK and Europe. Mandy has extensive counselling experience working with children, young people and adults. She is a member of the BACP CYP sub-committee group representing Northern Ireland on issues affecting children and young people in society today. Mandy is committed to AchieveNI and offers much of her own time in updating and developing new skills in understanding the needs of others affected by issues in society today. She has training in EMDR therapy which will allow AchieveNI to offer this type of therapy to their clients and in particular, those struggling with PTSD, complex trauma, veterans of war etc. Due to the success of AchieveNI in Northern Ireland, Mandy is proud to be in the process of expanding their services to the South of Ireland! Her hobbies include fitness training, self-defence, theatre, reading and housework!



Jim Sheehy M. Ed., MBACP (Reg. Accred.)/ Clinical Supervisor has taught and lectured in Belfast and Dublin and is currently counselling in County Donegal. Jim has worked in the Boston and San Fransisco when researching adult and youth development schemes. On his return, Jim lectured at third level in the Marino Institute of Education. He has a keen interest in ‘living with and beyond disability’ as he has had progressive MS for the past 20 years. Jim has a keen interest in 'Mindfulness' and incorporates this into his therapeutic work with clients and training programmes specific to relax the body and mind. Jim enjoys dining out, fitness training and reading




Julie McBride MBACP (Reg.)
Consultant / Facilitator / Volunteer. Julie has worked for many years within school settings and communities, both on a one-to-one and group level basis. She particularly specialsies in working with survivors of sexual abuse / violence and those struggling with addictions. Julie has contributed at Queens University, Barnardos, BACP, CYP etc and works tirelessly in highlighting safeguarding and child protection issues. Julie is a member of the Reid Family, honoured for their exceptional bravery. She has 29 years experience as a barber, with a keen interest in martial arts impressively achieving her 'black belt' status in Ju-Jitsu. In the past Julie has voluntarily offered her coaching skills to others in helping them achieve their goals in this sport. Julie enjoys visiting museums and studying Victorian art.



Sheree Irwin MBACP (Reg.)
Consultant / Facilitator / Volunteer. Sheree has years of extensive knowledge and skills based on working with family units and those struggling with suicide, drug / alcohol and gambling addictions. Sheree is a member of the Reid Family and has been invited as a keynote speaker to various events across UK and Ireland on raising awareness in sexual abuse / violence. She has experience in family therapy, couples counselling and mentoring as well as supporting individuals through many different issues. She incorporates art therapy into her work which she finds extremley beneficial during the counselling process. Sheree facilitates programmes in schools, agencies and community settings. Her hobbies include reading novels, walking, dining out and socialising with family and friends.




David Reid
Consultant / Facilitator / Volunteer. David has background knowledge and experience in counselling. He engages with people from many different backgrounds and disabilities through a mentoring process. David helps to facilitate AchieveNI's Health and Well Being programmes and has been a keynote speaker at various conferences on matters relating to the impact of sexual abuse / violence. David is a member of the Reid Family. He is a keen artist, who creates wallart and canvases to the request of customer needs. He very impressively had his artwork sold at Ross's Auction House, Belfast. Aside from art, David enjoys decorating, football and 'ghost hunting'!





Laura O'Kane
Consultant / Facilitator / Volunteer. Laura has extensive knowledge based training on various issues impacting society and experience in facilitating workshops to small groups in agency, community and school settings. She comes from a buisness background and is a successful personal trainer who herself participates in many competitions and events across the UK and Ireland. Her knowledge and skills based on exercise fitness and nutrition contributes to an overall view of health & well being and in particular those struggling with issues relating to low self-esteem / confidence building / weight management etc. When not working out at the gym herself... Laura enjoys reading, dining out, socialising with family and friends.




Louisa-Jane Vance PG Dip, MA
Consultant / Facilitator / Volunteer. Louisa-Jane has recently joined the AchieveNI team and presents programmes in schools and communities across Northern Ireland. She comes from a legal background and has broad experience in public speaking. Having been accredited with 'The Mind Gym' in London, she specialises in training 'Mind Gym' with parent groups. 'LJ' has shown herself to be very effective in engaging with small and large groups. Louisa-Jane enjoys dining out, fitness training and holidays. One special achievement has seen her crowned as Miss Northern Ireland!




Joanne McConnaughie MBACP (Reg. Accred.)/ Clinical Supervisor.
Consultant / Facilitator / Volunteer. Joanne is a highly experienced therapist with a wide range of knowledge in working with young people. Her experience is that of an Assistant Team Leader within ICSS Schools Counselling Project. Joanne has spent many years working therapeutically with children and young adolescents across a variety of community/school settings. Joanne’s current role entails professionally supporting a team of school counsellors, whilst retaining a level of therapeutic work with young people and adults alike. Joanne is a member of the Reid Family who is often invited to speak at conferences across the UK and Ireland. Her hobbies include walking, theatre and spending time with family and friends.




Gavin Meek
Consultant / Facilitator / Volunteer. Gavin comes from an engineering background and over recent years has changed his career path to working with those from disadvantage backgrounds. Gavin has completed his coaching badges with the IFA and coaches kids on skills relating to football. He is a qualified personal trainer, nutritional adviser and recently qualified in obesity and diabetes. Gavin has personally ben involved in various sports and at present enjoys running marathons. His hobbies are running and socialising with family and friends.