Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP)

The Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) is established in 2023 to acknowledge the expertise of lived experience in pain management with the kaupapa to advise the Council of the New Zealand Pain Society.

LEAP is chaired by a lived experience member comprising five members of lived experience in total, including two professional members (one NZPS liaison council member and one NZPS member).

The inaugural LEAP members and co-chairs are,

Co-chairs: Deb Thompson (Auckland) and Natalie Snaddon (Wellington)


Karen Browne (Dunedin)

Ginny Taft (Whangānui)

Ninah Christie (Christchurch)

Louise Sheppard (Christchurch - NZPS Member/LEAP Secretary) 

Hem Devan (Wellington - NZPS Council Member) 

Biographies of LEAP members:

Natalie Snaddon (Co-chair)

Natalie photo

Natalie Snaddon is co-chair of the Lived Experience Advisory Panel.  Natalie was part of the group of previous “graduates” from the in-person Pain Management Programme run through Wellington Hospital’s Pain Service, that worked on the co-design of the iSelf Help Pain Management Programme.  Natalie then moved into working on this Programme as a Peer Support Facilitator for the research phase of the project through Otago University.  Natalie transitioned across to working for the Pain Service at Wellington Hospital as the Peer Support Facilitator once the research had been completed and the on-line programme became part of their service delivery.  Natalie is now working in the same role with the Southland Pain Service at Dunedin Hospital.  Natalie is passionate about peer support and growing this into both an integral part of pain management programmes and a career for people living with chronic, persistent pain.  Natalie recommends “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and his new “Atoms” app as her favourite resource.

Deb Thompson (Co-chair)

Deb Thompson Profile Pic IFCI

Deb Thompson is co-chair of the Lived Experience Advisory Panel. She lives with persistent pain and Fibromyalgia. Deb has 30 years teaching experience. She recently graduated as a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach and is coaching people with Fibromyalgia to live full & wonderful lives. Over the last 10 years Deb has developed her skills in pain advocacy and gives regular talks to health professionals about living with pain. She has contributed to local research and was on the EAG for the Ministry of Health’s redesign of NZ pain services. Deb believes every person living with pain deserves to be heard, understood and to be the driver of their own health care.