Meet our Trustees

Richard Bishopp

I have been involved in education since the early 1970’s, teaching in a variety of schools, and in a range of posts, and also undertaking work as a GCSE examiner and chief examiner. In 1989, I came to work in Northumberland as a school adviser/inspector and continued in that role until I retired, as senior adviser, in 2010. From 2010 until 2018 I worked as an independent consultant, providing advice and support principally in relation to school improvement and from 2010-2017 I chaired the Northumberland Pupil Referral Unit. I am currently also a governor of Hipsburn Primary School in Alnwick.  I am passionate about ensuring that all children receive the best possible education and are enabled and encouraged to achieve to their full potential.

Away from education, I am an active member of my local church; I sing with my local Choral Society; and I am president of Alnwick and District Swimming Club.

John Brearley

I am a Chartered Accountant who has worked in business for the last twenty five years. I have experience of business planning, financing, financial reporting and budgeting and managing finance functions across a broad range of sectors from property, rural business and leisure to retail and consumer goods. I have been involved in the Academy since its opening in 2009 and have served on, and latterly chaired, the Governing Body. I have a strong belief that every child has the ability to succeed and my prime interest is to ensure that the young people in our Trust receive the best education equipping them with the skills to lead a successful and fulfilling life contributing to their community and country.

Martin Browell

I work in adult social care for Northumbria Healthcare and I am a parent of two girls: one in primary and one in secondary at Josephine Butler Campus. For the last five years I have also been the Chairperson of the Friends of Josephine Butler Primary Campus, and during this time I have organised many fundraising events such as school fairs, discos and our annual fun run, securing in excess of £50,000 to support charities, extra-curricular activities and resources. I work hard to ensure the school is a vibrant part of the local community and am an ambassador for them with local businesses, families and other organisations.  I also support, where possible, with school trips to local points of interest, museums and other attractions, I have recently become more involved in supporting the learners and staff of Josephine Butler Primary with their alternative curriculum and very popular award winning gardening group. These give learners a chance to work outdoors on such projects as planting, cultivating and harvesting their own flowers and vegetables.  I am very interested in how learning is developing within the Trust and I am committed to help make each learner in the Trust the best they can be.

Alex Cox

I am a solicitor and partner at the law firm Ward Hadaway specialising in development and property work.  I was involved with the original establishment of the Academy and was delighted to be given the opportunity to continue my association with it as one of the sponsor governors as it moved to become a Multi-academy Trust.  Along with my fellow governors, I am committed to supporting the Trust and ensuring that we create an environment where our young people can achieve their full potential.


Alan Hardie

I have worked in education since 1990, in schools in South Tyneside, Durham, and Northumberland. I have 13 years experience in Senior Management, including 8 years as Principal of an Outstanding secondary school. In 2014, I was designated as a National Leader of Education by the Department for Education. I am passionate about improving the life chances of young people, as having been a free school meals pupil myself I understand how education can transform lives. I am married with two children of secondary school age, both of whom  are very keen on sports, so I spend much of my time outside of school at various sporting activities!

Jeff Hope

I joined AkzoNobel in January 2013 as Head of Manufacturing for Ashington.  Before joining AkzoNobel, I was a Plant Manager for Rio Tinto Alcan at the Aluminium Smelter in Ashington, where I worked for twelve years;  prior to this, I was a Navigator on Marine Exploration Vessels for six years, conducting surveys in various regions of the world.

I believe a sustainable culture for industry is built upon on a fundamental desire to learn and grow in a high challenge, high support environment. AkzoNobel recognized this culture in the Pitmen Painters which inspired them to invest in the North East and build upon the strong culture that already existed here. We need to encourage and inspire this culture within the next generation so that they are proud of our heritage in Northumberland and also proud of themselves, so they that have the confidence to believe they can succeed in whatever they choose.

Paul Johnson

I have been a teacher for the past 17 years, mostly in Northumberland, although for the past two years I have held the post of Assistant Headteacher at Churchill Community College in North Tyneside where I have responsibility for teaching and learning and co-ordinate the work of the Great North Teaching School Alliance. Currently, I am also acting as Project Lead for ‘Voice North of the Tyne’, which involves 22 middle and secondary schools from across the region – including the Duke’s School – working together to develop their students’ ‘oracy’ (oral communication) in order to improve their literacy. I am passionate about helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed in education and I have strong personal connections to Ashington, where my wife was born when her father was Head of Sixth Form at Hirst High School and leader of Crossroads Church.

John Marshall

I am a lawyer and spent my legal career at Dickinson Dees LLP, latterly Bond Dickinson LLP, from 1989-2016 as a Disputes Resolution lawyer working nationwide, and latterly Senior Partner.  I am Chair of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, the destination marketing organisation for Newcastle, Gateshead and the wider region.  I am also Chair of Trustees of Newcastle United Foundation, Chair of the Regional Development Committee for Prince’s Trust, Council Member for North East England Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Advisory Board for Newcastle University Business School.  I am non-Executive Director of both North East Ambulance Service and North East England Chamber of Commerce.  I am proud to serve as a Trustee and am committed to ensure every child here gets the opportunity, and is encouraged, to achieve to their full potential.

Mina Munns

I am the Priest in Charge and Pioneer Minister in the parish of Cresswell and Lynemouth and am very involved at William Leech Campus, where I am involved in leading regular assemblies, running an after school club for children and parents and helping to provide a breakfast drop in for parents at the Early Years Centre. I am passionate about education and have 7 years experience as a primary school teacher both in the UK and in Germany as part of Service Children’s Education. I have also worked as a Church Children and Families Worker, spending a lot of time in schools as part of this role. I am passionate about ensuring that students across all schools and campuses receive the best possible experience of school life. I am also very interested in exploring how we can provide the best pastoral and spiritual experience for students and staff.

Stephen Purvis

I serve as a Trustee representing the Bishop and Diocese of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.  Born and bred in the North East, I served for 12 years in the Royal Navy as a pilot in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.  I served operationally around the world including in Northern Ireland, Iraq and latterly in support of the campaign in Afghanistan.  Retiring in 2011 I started a bespoke software business that grew rapidly and was sold as a group of companies in 2016.  I have invested in 10 North East technology companies and am on the board of around half of those.  I am the co-founder and Chairman of the dedicated Northern policy think tank – Policy North.  I run a private charitable foundation and live and manage a country hall and estate in mid-Northumberland.  I have a passion for investing in our children as future technologists and entrepreneurs.