Meet the Board

Tony Edwards, Chair

Tony was appointed to the Board in April 1997.  He is the current Chairman of the Board and he has in the past been the Chair of all the Committees of the Corporation.

Tony presents the Derwentside College Achievement Awards, and has been active in a range of external committees involved with the strategic development of Further Education.

Tony was the Managing Director of ALTO Television Productions Limited and was involved in the making of programmes for broadcast, corporate, education and training for over thirty years.

For a number of years Tony was the Festival Director of the Royal Television Society Young People’s Media Festival.

Tony is a Member of the Institute of Learning and a holder of a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning.

Tony is married and lives in Ebchester.  He enjoys travelling, cinema, television and reading.

Geoff Marshall, Vice Chair

Geoff was appointed to the Board in April 2001. He is Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of the Audit Committee and a Member of the Search Committee.

Geoff is a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Member of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation. He was employed as a Highways Engineer with Northumberland County Council for forty years and was also employed in the Planning Department of Tynedale District Council.

Geoff is a Holding Trustee and Secretary of the Ebchester Community Association, Treasurer of the Ebchester Village Trust, and Treasurer of the Ebchester Boathouse Development Partnership.

Geoff is married and lives in Ebchester. He has two children and four grandchildren.

Joe Devanney, Independent Member

Joe was appointed to the Board in October 2017.  Joe is currently Operations Director at Con Mech Engineers.

Joe has worked in a number of northeast manufacturing companies throughout his career including, Myson Heating Ltd, Rite Vent Ltd and PC Henderson Ltd.

Joe has qualifications in Operations Management, Mechanical and Production Engineering and Welding and Fabrication.

Joe is married and has 2 daughters and 1 grandson.  He enjoys keeping fit and playing acoustic guitar.

Geraldine Granath, Independent Member

Geraldine was appointed to the Board in March 2012. Geraldine is a Managing Partner at Whitfield Associates, a people and organisational development consultancy.

Geraldine was employed for over twenty years in the health service. During her career Geraldine held a number of positions including Chief Executive Officer at Community Health Council North Tees and Newcastle, Tyne and Wear Health Partnership and Action Zone Coordinator, Teaching Trust Project Manager, Assistant Director Organisational Development and Teaching and Head of People Development and Teaching.

Geraldine is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and has lectured at both Sunderland and Newcastle Universities.

Geraldine lives in Esh Village. In her spare time Geraldine enjoys choral singing and walking.

Geoff Gibson, Independent Member

Geoff was appointed to the Board in March 2008. He is a retired bank manager and lives near Ebchester. For the last twenty years he has been the Chair of Governors at Ebchester School and was a Governor at Blackfyne School for a number of years.

Geoff is a member of Ebchester Community Association and is a committee member for the EDF energy boundary lane wind farm community benefits fund.

Geoff is married with three grown up children and enjoys motor rallying, gardening, farming and holidays.

Cathryn Richards, Teaching Staff Member

Cathryn was appointed to the Board in June 2014. Cathryn has worked at the College since 1997 as a course leader and lecturer in Accounting. She is a qualified accountant and possesses qualifications in assessing, verifying and teaching.

Prior to working at the College, Cathryn was a student where she achieved her accounting and teaching qualifications. Cathryn had also been employed in a number of different jobs including, an accounts assistant for a print agency, a house manager at a tennis club and a copy taker for a newspaper.

Cathryn is married with two grown up children and enjoys travelling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.

Nicola Dixon, Support Staff Member

Nicola was appointed to the Board in December 2018 and she has worked at the college since September 2004. Nicola is currently a Wellbeing Practitioner. 

Nicola is a qualified teacher who previously taught PE/Sport at colleges, universities and football academies.  During this time she also managed a gym for 6 years.

Nicola previously worked as an Events Manager for a children's hospice and a Youth Project Leader, working with vulnerable children aged 5-19, as part of a project funded by Children in Need. She is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and a huge advocate of trying to help remove the stigma associated with mental health.   

Nicola has two children and enjoys most sports, especially football and loves walking and cycling.

Mark Short, Independent Member

Mark was appointed to the Board in January 2015. Mark is Managing Director of Dysart Developments Ltd an estate management company based in Consett and operating throughout the northeast of England. The company actively manages the regeneration of the former Consett Steelworks site.

Mark is a qualified civil engineer and has been involved with civil engineering and building development in the northeast for over thirty years.

Mark is married with 2 children and enjoys reading, cycling, rugby and golf. Mark actively supports local sport through Shotley Bridge Cricket Club and Consett Rugby Club. 

Dr Keith Chester, Independent Member

Keith joined the board in January 2020 as an independent member. Now semi-retired, he was the owner/manager of an engineering business in Derwentside for over 30 years.  As a qualified metallurgist he has worked in the power generation, specialty metals and special bearings industries, operating companies in UK, Malaysia and UAE. He maintains an interest in two other engineering companies and three restaurants.

Keith is married with three sons and five grandchildren and his hobbies include ocean yacht racing, walking, gardening and logic puzzles.

Brandon Layton, Student Member

Brandon is our student governor and is a determined young man who, despite being diagnosed with Autism at a young age, has used education to exceed all expectations.

Brandon started at the College on Foundation Learning and from there progressed to Business Administration and ICT Level 2.  After completion of these courses, Brandon successfully applied for the Access to Humanities Course and has been accepted at no less than three universities.

Following completion of his Access course, Brandon wishes to progress to university, where he will study International Relations and Politics. This was unimaginable for him before starting college. Brandon states that ‘Derwentside College has given him the necessary skills to progress, not just onto this next chapter, but through the rest of his life’.

Chris Todd, Principal & Chief Executive

As Principal and Chief Executive, Chris is responsible for the overall performance of the College in all aspects of its operations.  As a member of the Board of Governors, Chris leads on the development of the College's strategic priorities and ensures they are delivered.

Chris, a qualified accountant, has a wealth of experience within the Education sector having held a number of senior management roles during his career. 

Lynn Smith, Clerk to the Corporation

Lynn was appointed as Clerk to the Corporation in November 2019, having spent most of her career in public services administration and management at organisations including Cleveland Police, Cleveland Magistrates’ Courts and latterly Stockton Riverside College where she stayed for 14 years. Whilst working as Head of the Principal’s Office at SRC, Lynn achieved a BA Hons Degree in Public Services Management which consolidated and formalised her knowledge and experience.

A year long stint providing maternity cover for the Clerk to the Corporation at SRC led to an interest in governance, which ultimately led to her applying for the post at Derwentside College.

Lynn is married with two grown up children and enjoys reading, swimming and spending time with her five grandsons.