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Our governors and their roles
John Ryan - Chair of governors
It is an enormous privilege to chair the RNC Board. I joined the Board in February 2016, became chair of the Education and Training Committee in 2017 and Vice Chair in February 2019. I began my three-year term of office as Chair in February 2020. My professional life was spent mostly in higher education, carrying out a variety of roles over a 36 year period at four universities, the last 15 years at the University of Worcester. I stood down from my role as University Secretary and Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) in July 2015 and for the next three years, undertook work for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and taught on a Postgraduate Certificate course in Leadership, Management and Governance.
I am passionate about education, social justice and about supporting people to achieve their full potential, in spite of any challenges or barriers placed before them. It was for these reasons that I wanted to serve on the RNC Board. After four years I continue to be inspired by the dedication and commitment of RNC staff and the resourcefulness and resilience of our students. Our mission - education, empowerment and employment for all people with a visual impairment - is so important and my task as Chair is to develop further and strengthen the College's reputation as the leading national provider of education and training to people who are blind or visually impaired.
Jonathan Brew - Vice Chair of the Board
Jonathan has recently retired from a distinguished career in the law. He trained with a large firm in Manchester and on qualification moved to Chester where he met his wife Anne. They then moved to Worcester 1983 with Jonathan joining the then firm of Harrison Clark solicitors as a salaried partner. Initially he specialised in criminal law but quickly realised the potential for a family law practice and set about building one of the largest family law departments in the country. He became the firm’s overall senior partner in 2003.
The firm has since expanded considerably, merging with Rickerbys in Cheltenham and with Shawcross solicitors in Ross-on-Wye and now includes its own clinical negligence firm, the Medical Accident Group, and its own HR specialists Eagle HR. In May 2017 Harrison Clark Rickerbys merged with Gordon Lutton and Co. Solicitors in Hereford.
Jonathan sat for 5 years as a Deputy District Judge on the Oxford and Midland circuit. Since retiring as a full time lawyer, he continues his association with HCR as the firm’s business development partner on a consultancy basis. He was appointed as a Fellow of the University of Worcester and has a strong association with the Law School at the University forming and chairing its legal forum. The Worcestershire Law Society presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2018 in recognition and acknowledgement of his expertise in family law and his contribution to the local legal profession.
Jonathan is now serving a second term on RNC’s Board of Governors and sits on the Finance, Development and Commercial Committee and is the Governor Health and Safety link. He is also a trustee of Blindcare, a charity established in 1993 to support people with sight loss.
After 17 years as an English teacher/Head of English, I became a Deputy Headteacher in a large secondary school in the maintained sector. Thereafter, I became a Headteacher in a rural comprehensive in West Gloucestershire, the only one in the area which was a Specialist Sports College.
While in this role, I trained to become an Additional Inspector with Ofsted and eventually a full-time Senior Inspector with Tribal Education. I led over 50 inspections ranging from infants to sixth form colleges to independent schools and was also responsible for QA of inspection reports.
After working as a Senior Adviser for Ofsted, I became a freelance educational consultant, working in a range of different schools in the maintained sector.
I am now a part-time School Improvement Advisor with Worcestershire County Council and a School Improvement Partner for several schools outside of Worcestershire. I specialise in advising on curriculum development, leadership and management and governance. Throughout my career, I have always regarded inclusion in its widest sense as fundamental to the effectiveness of all settings, hence my desire to support RNC as much as I can.
I live with my family in the RNC locality. I am passionate about sport as participant, erstwhile coach and spectator. I am a member of Worcestershire County Cricket Club and a self-confessed cricket-nut! I am also a very regular attender of a wide range of theatrical performances both locally and at venues such as Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Jeremy is the tax partner of Kendall Wadley LLP a chartered accountancy firm which employs around 40 people over three offices in Worcester, Malvern and Hereford and is one of the largest independent chartered accountancy firms in the area.
Jeremy has overall responsibility for the firm’s tax department and deals with all aspects of taxation. As well as a vast amount of personal tax experience, Jeremy has much expertise in dealing with corporate and transactional tax. His client base includes high net worth individuals, professional practices and multi-national companies.
Over the years Jeremy has acted as a trustee of many not for profit organisations, including Sight Concern Worcestershire and Worcestershire Ambassadors, and is currently Treasurer to the Worcestershire Community Foundation. The role of the Foundation is to distribute donor funds to the local community. He has also been entrusted with the role of managing a charitable trust set up by a philanthropic client.
Jeremy is a member of the Finance, Development and Commercial Committee.
Kerry is a qualified accountant with over 30 years’ experience at senior level within the Automotive and Packaging sectors including international assignments in Belgium and Germany. Kerry was Chief Finance Officer of Zytek, a German owned Automotive group of companies, from 2008 and was responsible for Finance HR, Law and IT for the group in the UK and USA. She grew up in Chester and graduated from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Economic and International Politics and worked in North Wales until moving to Herefordshire in 1996. She is experienced in the areas of restructuring, acquisition, integration, and securing State Aid support in Wales and England and is Chair of the Welsh Investment and Development Advisory Board.
Kerry was a founder member of Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and was Vice Chair 2014-17, chairing the funding group for 6 years. More recently Kerry has been invited to chair the Birmingham City Council Green Bridge and HS2 Supply Chain European funded Grant panel, which also includes the Herefordshire based businesses. She also represents The Marches and Stoke and Staffs LEP’s on the Midlands Engine Investment Fund Strategic Oversight Board, working closely with The British Business Bank.
Kerry is Chair of RNC’s Audit & Assurance Committee.
Peter enjoyed a long career of twenty-five years in the military, serving as an officer in the Parachute Regiment; he has a deep knowledge of strategy, planning, operations and leadership. He also spent two years in the Royal Household as Equerry to TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. During this time he had a great deal of interaction with the Prince’s charities and voluntary organisations, including the Royal National College for the Blind, of which His Royal Highness is Patron.
Peter is now a Director at PwC where he specialises in career transition, senior talent management, general consulting and facilitating strategy planning sessions for charities and Not For Profit organisations. He is also on the board of a number of other charities.
Peter is Co-Vice Chair of RNC; he felt a great affinity with the College and its work, having grown up nearby and attended the primary school opposite the RNC! He wanted to be as supportive as possible and tends to help with overall strategy, fundraising and general networking, particularly in London, where he works during the week.
‘I get an enormous amount out of working for the RNC. The hope that a young person’s life is profoundly changed for the better, by their experience at the College is a strong motivation. I’ve been so impressed by the determination and achievements of the students and I feel privileged to play a small part in helping them to achieve their goals.'
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I served in the Army for 14 years, working mainly in security duties. Most of my service was in the United Kingdom but I also had postings to (West) Germany as part of the grand old British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), Lebanon and Hong Kong.
Following my army service, I was a police officer and police staff member for nearly 26 years. My duties included management of police resources, as well as the command of critical incidents such as pursuits and firearms deployments. Nearly all my service was in Herefordshire.
Currently I work for the local authority in a business continuity and emergency planning function. This is a wide-ranging role covering amongst main things, county wide flooding planning and response, as well as cyber related events.
I am really pleased that I can use my skills and experience to support the Trustees and provide the necessary oversight at RNC.
I have lived in South Herefordshire for nearly 30 years with my wife. We have two dogs and my punishment and her enjoyment is our unruly garden.
Peter is an Associate Governor and attends the Audit and Assurance Committee.
Simon worked in the NHS for over 40 years, firstly in hospital services and public health and then in several senior management roles, most recently as Accountable Officer of Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
Simon is now involved in several local and national charities, the magistracy, chairs a local Parish Council and is a Fellow of the RSA.
Simon chairs RNC's Finance, Development & Commercial Committee.
Simon notes that:
'I joined the RNC team because I wanted to contribute to an organisation which benefits young people. Since becoming a governor, I have found my personal involvement to be hugely rewarding.'
Since joining the RNC Board in early 2018, I have enjoyed learning more about our amazing college history and how young lives are being transformed by the opportunities we offer. Meeting students and staff has given me a greater insight into their challenges, resourcefulness and enterprise.
My professional career has centred on Human Resources in industry, the non-statutory sector and latterly as an NHS Director in Wales and England and Health Director in Lesotho, southern Africa.
After leaving a full-time career I have found particular satisfaction in being able to use my own varied experience to bring a wider perspective to the Board. I am very keen that RNC continues to be a good employer as well as a leading provider, as I strongly believe this ensures the very best for students.
Serving on the Audit & Assurance and the Education & Training Committees as well as the main Board, has given me the opportunity to work with fellow governors and executives who always demonstrate that our students are at the heart of all we do.
Lucy Proctor - Executive Principal
After a number of years working as a recruitment consultant, I moved in to the third sector to join Severn Hospice in Shropshire. As Community Fundraising Manager I worked on a successful £5m capital appeal to build a new hospice while building strong relationships with businesses, organisations, the public and the media in order to achieve challenging revenue targets.
Having grown up in Hereford, I welcomed the opportunity to return to the city to work for an organisation I have admired all my life. My role incorporates oversight of all aspects of the charity, with a personal emphasis on income generation, communications, public affairs and development projects. I am motivated by the transformative impact RNC has on the lives of its students and trainees, and by the potential the College offers to empower people with a visual impairment across the UK and abroad.
Ben studied at RNC and was Student Governor for a year. On leaving College, he joined Dolphin Computer Access in Worcester – a firm that creates software to allow people with visual impairments and learning difficulties to gain access to computers at home, work and school. As Technical Support Advisor, he is responsible for answering customer enquiries about software issues, where appropriate remotely accessing their system to resolve problems and/or providing phone or email support. He also produces trend and KPI reports and undertakes product testing.
Ben is an Associate Governor and attends the Education & Training Committee.
Sheila was Principal/CEO of RNC from 2011 until her retirement in 2015. During her time at the College she led a team of 190 multidisciplinary staff through a major cultural, financial and organisational change programme. She managed successful OfSTED and DWP inspections and maintained an excellent quality of provision designed to meet each student’s individual needs. Sheila also engaged with key players from government ministers through to national support bodies to help best position the college for stability and success.
Sheila previously held roles as Vice Principal of Cadbury Sixth Form College, Deputy Head Teacher at North Leamington School, and Head of Sixth Form at two other Birmingham colleges. Sheila is a Fellow of the University of Worcester.
Sheila is an Associate Governor and attends RNC’s Education & Training Committee.
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The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), Venns Lane, Hereford HR1 1DT
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Registered Charity No. 1000388
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