Board of Governors

Our Governors

Andrew Watts - Chair of Governors

Andrew Watts, the Executive Director of ‘changing places and changing lives’ charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle, names his priorities as expanding the global influence of the South Tyneside College’s world-famous South Shields Marine School, building greater business and community partnerships, and increasing educational opportunities and outcomes for all students.

Before joining Groundwork in 2005, Andrew spent 15 years working in the public sector in various environmental positions. His role as Executive Director is varied but includes helping create strategic partnerships across Tyneside and developing Groundwork’s asset portfolio, which includes the One Trinity Green business centre in South Shields and The Beacon enterprise centre in Newcastle.

He is also an active board member of a voluntary sector organisation in South Tyneside.

Sheila Alexander

Starting her career in nursing, both as a general nurse and midwife, Sheila gained a Masters of Business Administration in 2004. Within the NHS, she has held several strategic roles, designing and implementing a number of key systems to improve NHS services in the region. Sheila has a particular interest in the field of cancer services.

David Byrne

David Byrne brings vast experience of the marine industries worldwide and has a particular focus on supporting and promoting the global ambitions of South Shields Marine School. He is active in supporting the professional development of seafarers in the region.

David, a father-of-three, who lives in Gosforth, Newcastle, began his career as a deck officer, later becoming a naval architect. He subsequently worked in marine research and development in the North East.

He works as a marine consultant on marine operations, oil and gas and port development projects worldwide, enjoying a wide range of industry contacts and personal experience beneficial to the Marine School and to the success of the college overall.

He is also active in a number of maritime-related charities in the region including the Marine Society and Sea Cadets.

Graeme Cruickshank

Graeme completed a BSc and PhD in Chemistry at Edinburgh University, before joining Procter & Gamble at the Newcastle Technical Centre in 1994, spending 20 years in a range of product design roles.

Most recently, in July 2015, Graeme was appointed by the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) as Director for the UK’s National Formulation Centre, a new world-class UK-based open access innovation centre for advanced formulated product design and manufacture. In this role, Graeme will focus on the establishment and management of the centre, which will enable the development and manufacture of complex high-value formulated products within the UK, accelerating and de-risking the innovation process.

Malcolm Grady

Malcolm graduated from York University in 1973 with a degree in History/Education, and stayed to complete a PGCE. He began his teaching career in secondary schools in South Tyneside, during which time he was awarded a School Teacher Fellowship at St Chad's College, Durham University. After completing a Masters in Education at Durham, Malcolm moved into educational administration at Newcastle and South Tyneside LEAs, working in fields such as adult and further education, school governance, school workforce development, succession planning and Ofsted inspections.

He also contributed to several national organisations in an educational advisory capacity such as the BBC Schools Broadcasting Council, the National Institute for Continuing Education and the National Employers Organisation for School Teachers.

Malcolm gained his Doctorate in Education from Newcastle University in 2001, in the field of school governance. He has worked as a lecturer in Continuing Education for Durham, Newcastle and Sunderland universities, and currently contributes to the education programme for the Joseph Cowan Centre for Lifelong Learning, Newcastle.

He is married, with four children. Now retired, he spends his time part-time lecturing, researching and sitting as a magistrate.

Gary Holmes

Gary has a BSc (Hons) in French, with Medieval Ecclesiastical and Political History, as well as an MSc from Oxford University (Keble College) and many years’ experience as a university lecturer.

He is Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Partnerships) at the University of Sunderland.

Gary has been a governor in a number of schools for over 20 years, and is the Vice-Chair of Governors at Ponteland High School. He is also Chair of Trustees, UTC South Durham.

Martin Hottass

Martin Hottass joined City & Guilds Group as Managing Director for Technical Training in October 2018 to grow City & Guilds’ presence in the technical training sector. The Group’s Technical Training division comprises of Gen2 and Intertrain.

He is responsible for expanding City & Guilds’ position as a high-quality training provider of STEM skills and a leading training provider in the nuclear and infrastructure sector, operating across the UK and internationally.

Prior to taking up his current position Martin had been working for Siemens plc since 2006 and was responsible for the skills agenda at Siemens in the UK and the company’s apprenticeship provision in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He also represented Siemens on the Apprenticeship Advisory Board at the Department for Education and served on a number of steering boards including the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) and the Energy Efficiency Industrial Partnership. 

Martin was appointed to the Route Panel for Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering at the Institute for Apprenticeships in 2017 and worked as an expert advisor on it until September 2018.

In February 2012, Martin became an Apprenticeship Ambassador. He joined the Board of GTA England (Group Training Associations England) in 2016. 

Mark Overton

Mark Overton is a retired Consultant in Public Health who spent much of his career working in South Tyneside.

He combines vast professional expertise, including that of strategic planning, with an intense interest in Further Education, and combines both within a single focus directed towards removing inequalities in health and education.

Mark is dedicated to using his skills and role of governor to progress the education of all young people who attend the college.

The married father-of-two, who lives in Monkton, South Tyneside, is also a governor at a secondary school and at a primary school in South Tyneside.

In 1991, he studied for a one-year Certificate in Management at South Tyneside College, a qualification he used as a foundation course and from which he began his successful and rewarding career.

Colin Seccombe

Colin is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. He worked for KPMG from 1974 until 1997, becoming a partner in 1987. He then moved to Newcastle Building Society as Finance Director until 2006, when he became its Chief Executive, a position he held until his retirement in March 2010.

For several years, Colin has been involved with charitable organisations, including as a co-opted member of the Finance Committee of UK Community Foundations, the umbrella organisation for all CFs in the country; Treasurer of The Community Foundation, serving Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, and a trustee of Headway Arts, a charity based in Blyth, which uses performing arts as a means of inclusion for disadvantaged and less able people. He is also a former chairman of the MEA Trust.

Andrew Walton

From over 20 years of working in senior positions within the North East, Andy gained significant experience running high performing, technology focused teams within both the public and private sector.  

This experience has allowed him to set, and then execute high level strategies which generated significant new business opportunities and revenue streams for businesses and significant economic regeneration benefits within the region.

He is the co-founder and current CEO of The Nine Software Company, an innovative software development business, delivering solutions to organisations such as P&G, Nike, Nissan, the NHS and UK police forces.

Alongside Nine, Andy is a founder and director of Asset55, a software and consultancy company, focused on the oil and gas market.  Asset55’s disruptive technology is deployed to clients such as AMEC Foster Wheeler, Baker Hughes and BP. 

Andy, and his wife Kelly, live in North Tyneside with their two children, Mac and Nia.

Susan Wear

Susan Wear is director of corporate affairs at the Port of Tyne, a high-profile position in which she is helping develop the port as a global trading hub to bring greater economic success and growth to the North East.

Brought up in a former shipyard house overlooking the Tyne at Gateshead, she began her career as a trainee journalist on the Shields Gazette. In 1988, she became the first female chief reporter on the Newcastle Journal.

A variety of positions which followed focussed mainly on supporting the region’s economic regeneration.

Susan is married to BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown and the couple have one daughter, an actress based in London. 

Donya Urwin

After gaining a degree in occupational psychology Donya joined the graduate training programme at Marks and Spencer and worked throughout the UK in a variety of retail management roles.

In 2001 she joined Jaguar/Land Rover as their Diversity Manager and then moved into Ford Motor Company where she worked internationally as an HR Director in South Africa, North America and continental Europe, finally being appointed to the Executive Leadership Board as Vice President of Human Resources for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Leading large international teams, negotiating with a wide range of Trade Union partners and controlling significant budgets has provided her with a wealth of experience. Donya has a particular interest in coaching and mentoring senior managers.   

George Clark

George became a college Governor in July 2014 and is a Qualified Accounting Technician and Chartered Accountant. In 2016, he was elected as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

George has over 44 years public service experience, spending 25 years at Newcastle City Council where he became Chief Internal Auditor and Head of risk management and insurance. George left to become an Inspector with the Audit Commission delivering over 50 assessments across all areas of the public sector (Police, Fire, NHS and Local Government) across England. Currently applying his skills on a number of Boards and Committees across the Tyne and Wear area:

  • Gateshead Housing Company Board Member - Chair of Resources Audit and Performance Committee, and member of the Executive Overview Committee
  • North East Combined Authority - Vice Chair of Audit Committee
  • Nexus - Independent Non-Executive Director sitting on the Executive Board, Chairing the Audit Committee and Remuneration Committee.
  • Independent Person for both Newcastle and North Tyneside Councils being consulted on all complaints against Councillors. 
Internationally he has worked with the Shanghai Municipal Reform project, with the Crown Agents and trained Chief Internal Auditors from Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, and Georgia. Had four tours of Bosnia to develop proper financial procedures and train their staff to deliver effective Internal Audit. Undertook two projects in Macedonia developing anti-corruption hotlines and training programmes for the staff operating them.

Jackie Watson

Jackie Watson has a wide knowledge and working practice of Education at all age groups and levels. As a qualified teacher her expertise includes: Early Years settings, Primary and Secondary teaching, right through to further and higher education for South Tyneside Council and Northumbria University.

Her diverse experience includes front line Community Development in her early career to later running, developing and managing services to support Children, Young People and their families. She managed a number of different settings and Borough wide projects such as Community Centres, Children’s Fund, Extended Schools, Early Years and Children’s Centres. 

As a strategic manager for Children and Young People’s Services she worked closely with Headteachers in Schools, Social Care and Health, Training Agencies and Charities to develop co-ordinated approaches to supporting those most in need, both locally and regionally. 

She has a strong commitment to finding ways to engage and enable young people to meet their full potential, believing strongly in developing support and trust with the whole family to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Married twice, she has five adult daughters and eight grandchildren. Now retired, much of her time is spent supporting them as well as supporting her local branch library as a Trustee and volunteer. Her main interest is in providing alternative therapies to support health and wellbeing.

Ian Pippin

Ian has worked at South Tyneside College for over seventeen years in roles of teaching and managing various different departments. 

His current role as Head of Creative, Professional and Foundation studies ensures that he has daily contact with a large number of teaching, support and service staff from all areas of the college. 

Having previously held the position of union representative and then branch secretary for the South Tyneside College branch of UCU Ian has always held the welfare and interest of staff as one of his highest priorities.  living in South Shields all of his life and studying in his younger years at STC, Ian has always felt a deep connection to the college. Ian lives with his wife and two daughters and spends his spare time playing the guitar and the piano.    

Dr Lindsey Whiterod, CBE – Chief Executive South Tyneside College

Lindsey Whiterod oversaw a rapid rise in education standards at South Tyneside College, where she was Chief Executive from 2009, by introducing a new focus on vocational qualifications.

Her resolute and forward-thinking approach to provision ensured courses and resulting qualifications targeted real jobs, a policy that won the approval of many within the North East business community and education inspectorate Ofsted, which graded the college ‘good’ with some exceptional features. In 2012, it was the only North East College where standards of provision were identified as rising.

Her influence on South Tyneside College’s academic resurgence was such that she was made an OBE for services to education in the New Year Honours List in 2013, and later made a CBE in the New Year's Honours List in 2018.

Lindsey’s achievements included overseeing capital refurbishment and estate rationalisation programmes in excess of £21m, part of which was a £4.5m upgrade to the college’s world-famous South Shields Marine School and the development of its globally-renowned brand into new markets in countries such as China, India and Bangladesh.

Significantly, she also ensured the college was rated financially outstanding by the Government’s Skills Funding Agency.

Director of Governance: Neil Longstaff

If you require any further information about the College's Board of Governors or any corporate or governance queries, please contact Neil Longstaff, Director of Governance on 0191 427 3903 or email neil.longstaff@tynecoast.ac.uk


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