Our Trustees

Nick Sheppard
Chair

Nick Sheppard

Background & Experience: currently employed by FTSE national/international business as Senior Counsel, principally HR/employment/industrial relations, and regulatory/compliance lawyer (outsourced and secure services sector): (Feb 2012 -) Law Firm York (including as Partner): (@Aug 2006-Feb 2012); Senior Employment Counsel (food services plc): (Nov 2011-Feb 2012); Trainee Solicitor/Solicitor: 1996 (qualified 1998); experience in HR/Industrial relations/employment law; legal and regulatory frameworks and compliance (including TUPE, data protection issues – currently Data Protection Officer); some previous (professional) work undertaken with academies/academisation, and (external) HR legal advice to schools.

Relevant qualifications: BA (Hons) Law and Combined Studies (1991-1994), (Post-Grad) Diploma in Legal Practice (1995), Advanced Certificate in Employment Law (@1999/2000), Certificate in Health and Safety Law – University of East Anglia (@1999/2000), Graduate of (in-employment) Regional Leadership Programme (Modules inc. Finance, Leadership, Strategy) (2016).

School: currently Chair Monk Fryston Church of England Primary School (governor appointment 2015-, Chair 2016-); ex-officio appointment by Diocese of York (current appointment to MFS likely to end early 2018 on retirement of Parish Vicar); member of Finance and Curriculum committees; Safeguarding Link Governor (current); previously SEND Link Governor.

David Cockayne
Vice Chair

David Cockayne

David is one of the UK’s leading proponents of modern applied leadership and governance, and is Chief Executive of Wakefield based company thevaluecircleLLP. 

An architect of the concept of ‘mechanics&dynamics’ in effective organisations, David provides strategy, transformation and development support to public and private sector organisations across the UK and internationally. 

David has held Board level positions within both the public and private sectors. These include executive positions in the NHS, Tunstall UK, Humana Europe and as managing director of a governance consultancy was responsible for growth in health education and sports.

David is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Previous voluntary roles include membership of the Audit Committee of York St John University, Advisor to Roald Dahl’s Children’s charity and Vice-Chair of his local football club.

David is passionate about the power of education and is an advocate for opportunity and equity in its provision and is a member of our Curriculum and Standards Sub-Committee.

He is a keen cyclist and holds a Masters degree from the University of Cambridge.

Julie Charge
Trustee

Julie Charge

Julie is a Qualified Accountant with over 20 years of experience as a Finance Director both in the public and private sector. Julie worked for Scottish & Newcastle (now Heineken) for many years and in a variety of financial roles which culminated in the creation of a spin off company which she moved to firstly as Finance Director and then Commercial Director.
Julie then embarked on a new role within an entrepreneur led health company in London which involved the financial commissioning and subsequent running of a hospital in Bath and later Reading. Julie returned to the north to her current role as the Finance Director of Salford University which she has held for the last 7 years.

Julie is Chair of the Audit Committee as part of her Non-Executive Director role at Mid Yorks NHS Trust. Prior to joining the MAT as a Trustee, she was a Governor of Riverside Primary school for 2 years. Julie has a keen interest in appropriate governance and risk management.

Julie is married and has a son at Saxton Primary School.

Richard Coy
Trustee

Richard Coy

Richard has over 15 years’ experience in property/land development ranging from working for a major national housebuilder, where he started his career, to project managing large scale regeneration programmes and drafting housing strategies within local government. As part of Richard’s current role at Keepmoat Homes he is responsible for sourcing, buying land and establishing strategic partnerships with major landowners, including Local Authorities across the Yorkshire region.

As well as managing the legal due diligence process Richard is responsible for drafting the multi million pound budget forecasts required to formulate the land deals as well producing business cases and completing legal agreements to secure development finance, sometimes from the public sector.

Richard has also been involved with the creation of Joint Venture companies with public bodies and until very recently was the Company Secretary for one such company: Sheffield Housing Company, which in addition to the statutory tasks of filing accounts etc. was required to set up a pensions scheme for the company’s direct employees in accordance with Government policy.

He is a CITB qualified Construction Ambassador and has delivered a number of STEM projects aimed at different age groups in schools across Yorkshire.

Prior to joining the South Milford Community Primary School as a co-opted Governor in 2015 Richard was Chair of the Local Parish Council with special responsibility for planning, development and legal matters. Richard is currently the Chair of the Finance, Premises & Staffing Committee which over the past 2 years has recommended a number of capital projects to improve the school’s facilities as well as providing the usual challenge/support to the School in setting and managing its annual budgets.

He is currently undertaking a diploma in Leadership & Management which he is already applying to his employed and voluntary roles.

Tom Fielden
Trustee

Tom Fielden

Tom is a Chartered Accountant and former Finance Director of Northern Powergrid and GNER.
He qualified as an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand in London and subsequently moved to the PwC consulting practice. After various roles with BT Group and BT Global Services, Tom joined Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) in York in 2005, becoming Finance Director in 2006. He was Finance Director of Northern Powergrid between 2009 and 2021.

He is co-owner of the Grimston Park Estate and has served as a Foundation Governor of Kirk Fenton Primary School between 2010 and 2018. He chairs the Board of Governors of Queen Mary’s School at Baldersby Park, near Thirsk, a girls-only day and boarding school that is part of the Woodard Corporation. He also chairs Towton Parish Council.

He and his wife have 4 children, all educated at Saxton Primary School.

Simon Peacock
Trustee

Simon Peacock

Project manager MSc Engineering Project Management – Lancaster Uni Business School. Employed by Northern Powergrid as a Programme Manager within the construction projects department. Accountable for the cost effective development and delivery of a section of Northern Powergrid’s capital investment (circa £30M for 2017) utilising a team of designers, project managers, contractors, suppliers. Responsible for the development of individuals within the team and the efficient operation of contracts; ensuring projects are delivered within all corporate governance and quality standards and European Procurement directives.

Parent Governor for eight years, Chair for two years, at Kirk Fenton Primary School. Three children at Sherburn High School.

Alison Smith
Trustee

Alison Smith

Alison has worked in education for the past 18 years. She is highly committed to supporting the development of educational provision which allows pupils to flourish both ‘academically and personally’, and provision which ensures pupils develop a life -long ‘love of learning.

Alison is currently the Assistant Director of Education for the Diocese of York Education Team (effectiveness). Alison provides a role which focusses upon monitoring the overall effectiveness and performance of all 127 schools across the Diocese of York locality. In order to do this she has developed strong partnerships with 7 LA’s, and also liaises with colleagues at NCTL, OFSTED, DfE and National Society. Alison also provides specific support for leaders at a number of schools across the diocese, and leads CPD events for leaders on behalf of the diocese.

Prior to joining the Diocese of York Education Team, Alison worked for North Yorkshire Children and Young People’s Service for 16 years, beginning as a Primary School Teacher, and then as an Advanced Skills Teacher who supported teaching colleagues to develop their practice across a variety of schools and settings across North Yorkshire. Most recently she was a Head Teacher of a C of E Primary School for 9 years in the Selby area. As a Head Teacher, she had varied experience, leading an infant school initially from ‘good to outstanding’, and then being Executive Head Teacher for a second school which required additional leadership support when being deemed to require special measures and led the school successfully from this. She also shared her leadership expertise widely in support of others such as supporting other schools, leaders and presenting at both LA and diocesan events.

Clare Thornton-Eckford
Trustee

Clare Thornton-Eckford

Profession: solicitor specialising in Family Law. Clare is managing partner in her own firm Thornton Jones based in Wakefield. She is also a mediator and an Arbitrator. The company employ 15 people and Clare is responsible for staff training, finances, marketing, and IT. She is also on the national panel for “resolution” which is the body which represents specialist family lawyers, where I deal with complaints. I am regularly asked to speak on various family topics and local and national conferences and received the Yorkshire Legal Award prize for dispute resolution.

Governance: Clare was a governor and Chair at Barkston Ash Primary school for 6 years and then joined the shadow governing body of Sherburn High school in 2010, continued through to the full governing body and then became Chair of Governors at SHS in 2013 continuing to date.

Other: Clare has 4 children; 2 have been students at Barkston Ash then Sherburn High and now are at university and working. The younger two are currently in years 5 and 6 at Barkston and will be attending Sherburn High school from September this year. She is very much part of the community and has been involved in the forming of the STAR alliance from the beginning. She feels passionately that all the young people in our community deserve the best educational environment in which they can flourish and that the STAR MAT is a real opportunity to achieve that for all.

Peter Wilson
Trustee

Peter Wilson

Peter is a recently retired businessman whose working life has been in manufacturing industry. He graduated with a 2.i in Managerial and Administrative Studies from Aston University and rose from being a Supervisor on the production lines at the Ford Motor Company in 1981 to become Chief Executive Officer of Moores Furniture Group between 2005 and 2010, via both Purchasing and Manufacturing Directorships. The turnover at that time was £60 Million with 1200 employees and Peter had to ensure that the company complied with all European standards as well as financial and legal obligations. Since then, Peter has been a self-employed consultant, delivering inspirational leadership training to business leaders (usually CEO/ Owner level) with a company called 2 Inspire and has spent the last four years changing the culture of a company in Jarrow, near Newcastle upon Tyne from an authoritarian ‘Command and Control’ organisation to an inclusive, team based, and empowered one.

Peter is a qualified Pensions Trustee having studied for and gained the Pensions Management Institute Award in Pensions Trusteeship – Level 3. This consisted of a residential course and examinations in three modules: 1. Legal Aspects of Trusts and Trusteeships, 2. Financial/ Investment Aspects of Trusts and Trusteeships, 3. Trust Management, including Rules, Responsibilities etc.  He is married with two children who were both educated at Harrogate and Leeds before going on to Sheffield and Leeds Carnegie universities and becoming a dentist and teacher respectively.

Carol McDermott

Carol McDermott

Carol is a lifelong education professional beginning her career as a teacher, in a local secondary school. Over the course of her career, she has gathered an extensive range of experience as a school leader and governor in primary, special and secondary sectors in the north of England. She has held 4 headteacher/executive headteacher posts and worked as an accredited school improvement partner in several LAs. Carol is also a National Leader of Governance. She continues to be active in supporting school governance, currently, as a trustee.

Carol is employed via her family business, which is a small consultancy company, specialising in a wide range of leadership development and support in schools. Through her company, Carol at different times, has supported four groups of schools along their successful journeys to becoming MATS, with two of these being groups of faith schools. She currently undertakes commissions from schools, MATs, and on behalf of DfE as a consulting education expert (EE), with particular areas of expertise in special education  needs schools and provisions, finance and governance, safeguarding, and free schools.

In addition to her NPQH and Diploma in SEN Management, Carol holds a degree in Law.