The Governors of Durham School play a vital role in ensuring we deliver effective leadership and management in keeping with our mission and ethos.
Mr Rob Ribchester
Rob is an Old Dunelmian having attended the School (Poole House) from 1992 - 1999. After attaining an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh and a Masters degree in Business and Finance at Durham University, Rob qualified as a Chartered Accountant in London with BDO Stoy Hayward in 2007. Rob then spent three years in the City with Deloitte within a specialist tax role before moving back to Durham at the beginning of 2010 to become a Partner at Ribchesters, Chartered Accountants in Durham and Newcastle. Ribchesters have numerous clients in the Educational sector and Rob has a wealth of experience in this area. Rob won the award of North East New Accountant of the Year in 2012. Rob holds numerous other professional positions including directorships of two North East Enterprise Agencies. Rob is also the trustee of The Henry Smiths Charity, a trustee of numerous other trusts and charitable organisations and is a member of the Durham Committee of Barnados, the Children's Charity. At the School Rob sits on the International and the Finance and General Purpose Committees and is also a director of Durham School Trading Limited.
Mrs Margaret Coates
Margaret Coates is Head Teacher at Newcastle Prep School, a thriving and oversubscribed school. With a passion for primary education, Margaret has worked within the Independent Sector for over thirty years. She has taught at RGS, Newcastle and set up a new nursery at Durham High School where she was Head of Junior House, as well as having experience of being a resident teacher within a Girls' Boarding School in Bromley. In her spare time (if any) Margaret enjoys music and is a Methodist local preacher. She has one son who was educated at Durham School and was proud to belong to Poole House.
Ms Sharon Langridge
Sharon Langridge is a solicitor and runs her own niche employment law practice in Newcastle. She also works as a part-time judge, hearing Employment Tribunal cases in Manchester and the North West. Sharon has a keen interest in all things HR-related, as well as being active in the local business community. She is a member of the Women's Advisory Board within the North East Chamber of Commerce and a director of Women into the Network, which promotes women-led businesses in the region. Sharon is also a governor at her local community primary school in Newcastle, where she lives with her husband and son.
Mr Simon Dobson
Simon is an Old Dunelmian (1977-1982) in his final year at Durham School he was Head of School and Head of School House. After leaving school, Simon joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where he was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment. After leaving the Parachute Regiment Simon ‘went into the city’ where he completed the Scottish Equitable’s Consultant Training programme. On returning to the North East, Simon worked for a Newcastle based IFA and then worked for Arthur Anderson, since subsumed into Deloittes. In 1999 he joined Dickinson Dee’s Private Client Department as an IFA and he has remained there ever since. In his role, he advises wealthy individuals and trustees on financial matters and helps to organise their complex personal affairs in conjunction with mitigating personal taxes where possible. He is also a member of the Personal Finance Society and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. In his spare time, Simon enjoys rowing; in 2011 he was appointed Chair at Tyne Rowing Club. In the role, he oversaw the funding, construction and adoption of Tyne Amateur Rowing Club’s £1m boathouse which was then opened by the Duchess of Northumberland in 2016. This work also included, converting the club from an unincorporated association to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. He now competes in The Tyne Senior Men’s squad and frequently encounters Durham School pupils; he also coaches at rowing events up and down the country.
Miss Joanne Cowie
Joanne Cowie is a Commercial Property lawyer and a Notary Public. She is a partner at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, a full service law firm which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. It has four regional offices. Joanne is based at the Wynyard Park office which is a specialist commercial office. Joanne has been a lawyer for over twenty years and acts for a diverse range of individual and corporate investor clients on commercial and residential property acquisitions, financing and disposals and for lenders. As a Notary Public, Joanne provides a full range of notarial services for commercial firms engaged in international trade and for individuals involved in matters worldwide, for example, buying and selling property, powers of attorney, estate administration, marriage and divorce, sponsorship of visitors, employment, immigration and emigration and can provide a secure record for almost any transaction, document or event worldwide. A Notary is also a qualified lawyer. Notaries are in fact the third and oldest branch of the legal profession. She was appointed as a Notary Public by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury. There are very few Notaries in the North East of England. Joanne’s oldest son joined Durham School in 2003, leaving in 2010 and her youngest son left Durham School in 2017. Joanne enjoys running, cycling and rowing and is a qualified British Rowing Coach. She has acted as a volunteer rowing coach at Durham School and has coached on school rowing camps and at events for several years. Activities in the last year have included a Tough Mudder event, climbing the Yorkshire Three Peaks and a 12k Total Warrior Army assault course. Challenges for 2017 are in hand.
Miss Maura Regan
Maura is the Architect of Carmel Education Trust, having led the successful transformation of Carmel College from a single outstanding College to the lead school in a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). The Trust is recognised as a leading organisation nationally. In her role as NLE, Maura and her Leadership Team have supported schools across the region from all phases, all of which are now showing significant improvements in outcomes for students. Maura has been highly pro-active in supporting NETSP (North Eastern Teaching Schools Partnership) in the delivery of NPQH, NPQSL and NPQML and a National College programme ‘Women into Headship’. A Director for the Church of England Diocese of Carlisle Good Shepherd with Multi Academy Trust. Maura is regularly invited to address National audiences on the benefits and complexities of establishing and leading a Multi-Academy Trust in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and support for the common good. She is passionate about making a difference and believes that ‘ever child should be given every opportunity to succeed’.
Mr Ritchie Salkeld
Mr Ritchie Salkeld has enjoyed a long and successful career as an independent financial advisor and wealth management consultant. Having left Durham School in 1972, he chose not to attend university and followed a career in insurance. After a series of relatively junior roles, he joined Provincial, rising to be their acting Local Life Manager. After a spell as an Independent Financial Adviser in the North East, he re-joined Prolific (formerly Provincial), in the South of England, fulfilling a number of senior roles. He later set up his own business as Ritchie Salkeld & Co, Independent Financial Advisers in the Horsham area. In 2011, his firm consolidated with Blacktower Financial Management Ltd, and he was appointed UK Managing Director. Mr Salkeld was appointed as a Governor in 2015 and is also the President of the Old Dunelmian Society. For 6 years (1979 -1986) he was Secretary of the Old Bowite Society. Mr Salkeld’s family has had a long and close relationship with Durham School. Six generations of his family have attended Bow and Durham School. He himself attended Bow between 1964 and 67, and Durham School until 19 72. His wife Philippa is an Honorary Old Dunelmian (OD) and the sister of three ODs. They have a married daughter, two granddaughters, and a son, who works for the family firm.
Miss Jenny Kirkley
Jennifer started at Durham School at the age of 11 in September 2000 and was the only female in Year 7 for the first term, this was not daunting to her at all as she had two brothers, Stewart and Fraser, who also joined the School along with their sister, Kirstie. Jennifer was Deputy Head of School and she has always taken an interest and been willing to take an active role within the institution to which she is affiliated. Jennifer was also the President of the Strathclyde Psychology Society when she was at University. Upon leaving University Jennifer joined the family business of Financial Advisors, Redworth Caledonian, and she developed an interest in Procurement, leaving the business to simultaneously work at Hargreaves Services as the Group Procurement Officer and also complete a CIPS Level 6, Purchasing, Procurement/Acquisitions and Contracts Management course. This qualification combined with experience in the sector enabled her to resume the role of Procurement Manager at Hargreaves Surface Mining Limited, and now Senior Procurement Manager for the Hargreaves Group. Durham School was very pleased to entice her to become a Governor in 2015 and benefits greatly from her personal knowledge of the School, but more importantly her expertise in planning and development to ensure the future success of Durham School.
Mr Geoff Hodgson
Geoff Hodgson was educated at Durham School and Oxford University, where he read Geography. His early career was spent in Sales and Marketing for multi national companies, including Procter and Gamble, Diageo and Coca-Cola International. He returned to the North East in 1994 to be Sales and Marketing Director of the Newcastle Breweries and Chief Executive of the Federation Brewery. Since 2004 Geoff has started and sold two leisure companies and acted as a non executive director to a number of companies and bodies. He is an active investor in various local companies. In recent history he has served as the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear , been Chairman of the North East Tourist Board and the regions representative for the London Olympics.
Mr Neil Turner
Neil Turner is Director of Howarth Litchfield Partnership (HLP) in Durham. Qualifying as an Architect at Newcastle University in 1991 and has developed HLP Architects into one of the most successful practices in the region. A qualified Project Manager and Client Design Advisor. He is also a member of the North East Design Review panel. Neil has extensive experience in the health, care, education sectors and design of bespoke one off houses. He is passionate about the work he and his practice produces. He has won awards with Civic Trust, Durham Civic Society, RICS awards and RIBA awards this year and is this year's winner of the Telegraph house conversion of the year . He also specialises in the conservation and development of historic buildings and has overseen a number of projects, bringing old structures back to life.
Canon David Kennedy
Mr Alasdair MacConachie, OBE, DL
Born in India and educated in Rhodesia, Alasdair followed in his father's military footsteps (he commanded the 5th Ghurkha Rifles in the Burma Campaign) by joining the 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment. He later joined Anglo American and DeBeers Mining before moving on to the Ford Motor Company. In 1981 he joined Sherwoods as Director responsible for commercial vehicle operations and assumed control of the company in 1983, since when business turnover has grown from £6m to £45m. Employing some 160 staff it is now one of the largest independent retailers within the GM franchise in the UK (Vauxhall and Chevrolet). In 1992 Alasdair was appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant for County Durham and in 2002 Vice Lord Lieutenant for County Durham. He received an OBE in January 2004 and an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Teesside University in 2008. He became High Sheriff of the County Palatine of Durham 2009-2010. He also chairs a variety of other institutions including Darlington College, is president of various boards and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).