Meet the Instructors

Tom German - Story Writer, Storyteller and Presenter

Tom is the creator and reader of both the Wizard of Barham tales and the ‘Sad Hat and Muscles’ series, both of which are FTConnect originals. Tom has written throughout his life. His favourite genre to write is comedy. Everything Tom writes has a strand of humour in it with a tinge of fantasy and surrealism.

As well as writing and telling fun fantasy stories, Tom is the voice of FTConnect. He narrates and presents a large proportion of the courses as well as the content for social media.

Tom’s FTConnect highlight is the ‘Using Microsoft Word for beginners’ course which offers practical employability skills. He also recommends the storytelling section as it is very fun.

Tom says: “Fifth Trust Connect is a unique product which provides blended learning for adults with learning disabilities. Its versatility is its standout feature. It can be used in a classroom setting, at home, on the move, providing both educational and entertainment value.”

Andrea Devine - Senior Cook Club / Life Skills Instructor

Andrea has 10 years’ experience of working with people with learning disabilities and holds a Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care.

With over 30 years’ experience of cooking, Andrea’s videos cover all the basics needed to get you feeling confident in the kitchen, encouraging independence.

Andrea’s background in cooking is self-taught. Having been brought up on tinned and packet foods, Andrea wanted to be more adventurous and has enjoyed learning and travelling the world making culinary discoveries. Her favourite type of food to cook is Thai, Andrea hopes to take a food tour around Thailand one day and learn how to nail cooking her favourite dish which is pad kra pao gai.

Andrea says: “I enjoy making the videos for connect. I think it is good to have some basic skills that you can develop. So, if you know how to make a basic tomato sauce from scratch you can make soup, tomato-based pasta dishes, chilli con carne the list can go on”.

Tom Andrews - Head of Create at The Fifth Trust, Art Instructor at FTConnect

Tom has worked at The Fifth Trust for over 20 years as an art instructor. He is now head of Create, which encompass the three art sessions we run at our centres (print, art, and design). Tom holds a Level 3 in Health and Social Care and achieved his Level 3 in Art and Design at Canterbury College.

In his spare time, Tom practises art and enjoys drawing and painting with the students in his classroom. He loves exploring art using graphite, watercolour, and acrylic paint.

Tom’s FTConnect highlight is the beginner’s sketching course. Members can learn the basics of sketching from which pencils to use, how to smudge and blend to highlights, shadows, and perspective. Many FTConnect members have completed this sketching course with amazing results (check these out on our student gallery in news and members only page).

Tom has also taken his experience with sketching to our monthly videos page where he has videos on sketching a railway tunnel, a rose and a parrot as well as using watercolour paints to create accessible and visually appealing works of art.

Tom’s helpful tutorials will help you to create your very own masterpieces – improve your painting skills, learn how to work with card, sketch and more.

Tom says: “I’ve really enjoyed watching our students being taken out of the comfort zone with some of our courses and then seeing how happy they are when they see what they have accomplished.”

Laurence Jordan - Horticulture Instructor

Laurence has 4 years’ experience working with people with learning disabilities in a horticultural setting, and 10 years of foraging experience.

Laurence’s gardening and cooking videos will see you learn how to sow seeds, grow fruit, propagate house plants and turn fresh produce into healthy meals.

Laurence discovered foraging whilst he was studying Graphics & Illustration degree at Camberwell, London. Laurence was working on a project when he came across a foraging handbook in the library. He started with the basics, making nettle soup, and finding patches of wild garlic to make pesto.

Foraging opened ‘the green path’ for Laurence and got him interested in growing cultivated plants and vegetables back at his family home. His new hobby became a lifestyle, and determined his desire to pursue an active, outdoor career.

Volunteering on an organic farm in Turkey, Laurence was taught to graft olive trees, propagate tomatoes and aubergine as well as how to milk goats to make cheese. His favourite activity was learning how to keep bees for honey production (he now keeps bees in his garden).

After Turkey, Laurence spent a year travelling across South India and the Himalayan mountains of Nepal. Here, Laurence worked on various homesteads, learning local cooking and food preservation traditions including a little bit of foraging in the jungle. His duties on this farm involved assisting in harvesting spices such as nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, and curry leaf, as well as cultivating various fruit tree saplings including coconut, papaya and chocolate!

It is this experience that inspire many of Laurence’s recipes.

Laurence says: “FTConnect videos are a great resource, the courses are accessible as they come in bite-sized chunks and allow repetition, both of which are huge benefits to students. Watch, rewatch and watch again!”

Lorna Doyle - Art Instructor

With over 10 years of experience of working with people with learning disabilities, Lorna’s background is in Textile Design which she studied at Chelsea School of Art and Design. After graduating in 2013, Lorna worked as a chef in a care home as well as working in care in the community.

Lorna’s videos explore different ways to paint and craft. She integrates her accessible videos into classroom sessions to help students create unique pieces of art.

Lorna has developed a course in colours where she explains a bit about basic colour theory, as well as a course on watercolours where she teaches the basics in the different ways you can use watercolours.

Lorna says: “I like the variety of videos, and that they are easy to use as a learning resource in my room with the students. It’s great for the users as they have a platform where they can access a range of different videos and benefit from the community aspect of the website.”

Ern Marden - Photography Instructor

For Ern, photography began as a hobby and developed from there to initiating the photography sessions and instructing students at the Trust. The sessions first started in 2017 and have been popular with students since, with some staying in the session from its initiation.

Ern is a keen photographer and particularly enjoys shooting wildlife and landscape photography, as he likes spending time in the natural world and open spaces. This includes plant life and insect macro photography, but photographing birds of prey is Ern’s true passion.

Ern’s photography challenges are a big hit on the website, as well as his ’Photography for Beginners’ course which covers the basics of taking a photograph from how to take a picture, to common photography related words, how to focus, composition and filling the frame. His monthly photography challenges can be found under monthly videos and cover subject topics such as lines, bugs, shadows, and reflections. The challenges are designed to be fun and accessible and can be done indoors or out, using a camera, smartphone, or tablet.

We have seen how our members’ photography skills have developed through watching Ern’s videos and have shared examples on our student gallery and social media pages for all to see.

Explore photography essentials with Ern with lessons on composition, colours, patterns, and lots more.

On the benefits of our photography videos and courses, Ern says: “Digital photography benefits our students because it gives students a chance to express their view of the world in a creative format accessible to all abilities. It is a repetitive process allowing the time for skills to be developed at an individual’s pace. Instant results can be seen on camera, allowing the students to see their work and retake if they wish to, but also for instructions or suggestions to be made in the field. It also can provide an enjoyable form of exercise when out and about.”