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Local Organising Committee

Dr Felicity Mehendale



Chair of Cleft 2021
President of International Confederation of Cleft Lip & Palate and Related Craniofacial Anomalies (ICCPCA)
Felicity Vidya Mehendale is a Plastic, Reconstructive and Cleft Surgeon and led the East of Scotland Cleft Lip and Palate Service for over 13 years. She now leads the Global Cleft Lip and Palate Research Programme, in the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh. Current research includes the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in evaluation of a range of cleft outcomes, identifying early predictors of outcomes, cleft epidemiological studies, perioperative care and standards and access to cleft care globally.

She trained as a doctor in Bombay University and then worked as a general surgeon in India, completing her MS Gen Surgery, before training as a plastic surgeon in the UK. She was a cleft clinical and research fellow at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Institute of Child Health, London.

She was awarded the Hallet Prize by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Ian McGregor Medal by the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons; and is the only person to have been awarded the Arnold Huddart Medal on two occasions, for her research, by the Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
Órla Duncan



Vice-Chair of Cleft 2021
Psychosocial Nurse Practitioner at Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, Edinburgh, UK
Órla set up the first plastic surgery nurse specialist post and then the cleft nursing service in Edinburgh, developing and auditing cleft care standards and protocols. She then took up a full time research nurse post following which she established a new service as a psychosocial nurse practitioner, with the plastic surgery and psychology services in Edinburgh.

Her interests include care of neonates with clefts, international collaboration on cleft care, psychosocial care, research and outcomes.
Vicky Beale



Treasurer of Cleft 2021
Miss Beale trained at Newcastle University qualifying initially in Dentistry in 1993 and intent on a career in facial and maxillofacial surgery went on to qualify in Medicine with a Distinction in 1999. Early surgical training was in the North East of England with a subsequent move to the West of Scotland to join their highly regarded Maxillofacial Higher Surgical Training Program.

Miss Beale was awarded a prestigious National Cleft Interface Fellowship in 2006 gaining extensive experience in the management of patients with cleft lip and palate and related conditions based in specialist cleft centres in Leeds, Newcastle and at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London.

After a year as a consultant in cleft and maxillofacial surgery at Salisbury District Hospital she moved to join the cleft lip and palate and maxillofacial surgery units in Manchester and has been based at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and the Manchester Royal Infirmary since 2010.

With special interests in Primary and Secondary Cleft lip and Palate Surgery, Facial Deformity, Oral and Maxillofacial Trauma
David Orr



Scientific Sub-Committee Co-Chair
David Orr is a plastic surgeon at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital and St James’s Hospital in Dublin. He is a cleft surgeon with the Dublin Cleft and Craniofacial Centre and Clinical Associate Professor in Surgery at Trinity College Dublin. His research interests include the evolutionary and developmental background to orofacial clefting and outcomes research in cleft surgery. He is also interested in collaborative approaches to the development of reconstructive plastic surgery and cleft surgery in resource-poor environments.
Debbie Sell



Scientific Sub-Committee Co-Chair
Dr Debbie Sell PhD, OBE has had an extensive career as a speech and language therapist clinical-academic in the North Thames Regional Cleft Service, London UK. She is Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Outcomes and Experience Research in Children’s Health, Illness and Disability (ORCHID).

Debbie’s research interests include the development and testing of perceptual speech outcome tools in cleft palate/VPI, used nationally (GOS.SP.ASS.) in the UK and internationally (CAPS-A). She has been involved in multicentre studies of speech outcome including the Eurocleft, the CSAG and CCUK studies and the Americleft study. Her PhD was based on the Sri Lankan Cleft Lip and Palate Project: a study of speech with unoperated or late operated palates. This led to the development of the first training speech therapy course and ultimately profession in Sri Lanka. Her current research includes the investigation, dissemination and implementation of parent-led speech therapy intervention in clinical practice.
Peter Mossey



Scientific Sub-Committee Co-Chair
For the last 2 decades, I have been leading local, national, European and global research in the field of craniofacial anomalies and cleft lip and palate which includes the following. Convenor of research group in Cleft Care Scotland and Leader for the Craniofacial Anomalies theme in the WHO Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Birth Defects initiative arising from the recommendations of the 63rd World Health Assembly in May 2010. Chaired the Craniofacial Anomalies Group of the IADR Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Agenda (GOHIRN) and was appointed honorary secretary of the IADR Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network in August 2012. Chair of the international Task Force on epidemiology, etiology and prevention of cleft lip and palate in June 2013. Through the WHO Collaborating Centre international collaborations and links with craniofacial units throughout the world have been established, involvement in consensus meetings to establish WHO strategies and research projects on treatment etiology and prevention of cleft lip and palate, particularly in developing countries.
Imogen Underwood



Prizes, Awards and Bursaries Sub-Committee Chair
Imogen is the Lead Speech and Language Therapist for the West Midlands Regional Cleft Service. She qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 1994 and has worked in the specialist field of cleft palate and speech difficulties related to velopharyngeal dysfunction for over 16 years. Imogen has been a member of a number of national committees and recently was President of the Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland (2017-2019). Her clinical and research interest is in Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) and Speech Related Quality of Life Outcomes. When not at work, Imogen loves spending time with her two boys and always enjoys a good party!
David Sainsbury



Social Media and Delegate Engagement Sub-Committee Chair
Mr. David Sainsbury is a Consultant Cleft and Plastic Surgeon at the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, UK. His main clinical commitment involves the care of children and adults with cleft lip and palate. His other clinical interests include ear reconstruction and skin cancer.
Gillian Cairns

Gillian is the Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist with the Cleft Lip and Palate service in Edinburgh. Following her initial posts working in the community setting, she had the opportunity to develop her specific interest in cleft lip and palate and velopharyngeal dysfunction with a development post within NHS Lothian, and later became clinical lead for the service based within Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Children. She is currently chair of the national cleft speech and language therapy CEN, and is involved in the CAPS-A cleft speech audit trainers’ programme as a trainer.

Her interests include early intervention in cleft care, assessment and management of non-cleft velopharyngeal dysfunction, multidisciplinary planning of care, research and outcomes.

Margaret Davie

Margaret Davie DipDH (Edin), DipOT (RCSEd), MClinEd (Edin), FHEA
Margaret has over 27 years experience as a Dental Care Professional in both hospital and practice based settings. Based in Edinburgh Dental Institute, Margaret provides clinical care and pathway management for patients with clefts. She is the Specialist Lead for Orthodontic Therapy Education in Scotland provided through NES and Chair of the Advisory Board for Dental Care Professionals within the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
Having completed a Masters in Clinical Education her research interests are in education and skill development within dental teams, and the positive impact this can have on patient care.