Meet the Board

Vicky McDermott, Chair


Dr Keith Chester, Vice Chair

Keith joined the board in January 2020 as an independent member and was elected Vice-Chair in October 2020. He is a Member of Audit Committee and Search and Governance Committee.

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.

Simon Howard, Independent Member

Simon was appointed to the Board in August 2020. Simon is Operations Director for Pinnacle Re-Tec Ltd and KC Engineering Bearings Ltd. Both businesses are located within Consett. Pinnacle Re-Tec and KC Engineering Bearings are specialist engineering companies operating in the field of rotating equipment and hydro dynamic bearings.

Simon began his career as an apprentice Tool Maker progressing through various positions ranging from Production Management, Manufacturing Management/Engineering, Development & Design Lead, Business Improvement, Operations. The largest portion of Simon’s career was within BAE Systems, but he has experienced several other roles throughout the North East and wider UK.

Simon is married with two children. Any spare time is shared between rugby (watching / attending) and collecting antique machinery and vehicles - if it has an engine and it’s old, then it is of interest.

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. 

Malcolm Sowerby, Independent Member

Malcolm retired from his post as Clerk to the Corporation in December 2019, a post he had held for 14 years. He has recently joined the Board as a Member in his own right.

Malcolm is a qualified Housing Manager and a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

He has thirty years social housing experience which includes property management and development, staff development and training, Housing Corporation regulation and organisation governance.

Malcolm is married with a grown up daughter and lives in Chester Le Street. He enjoys cycling, walking and gardening.

David Allsop, Independent Member

David was appointed to the Board in October 2021. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants and is a member of the Audit Committee. 

David is Managing Director of Ashtree Property Limited with a property rental portfolio in Derwentside. Until his 'retirement', David was Regional Director of the Audit Commission and carried out many corporate governance and audit reviews of public sector bodies. 

Married with two children and four grandchildren, his interests include football, holidays, DIY and volunteering. 

Carl Bozeate, Independent Member

Appointed to the Board in October 2021, Carl is a Financial Controller for MHT Technology, based in North Yorkshire, and is responsible for all aspects of finance and purchasing. MHT Technology is a leading player in the UK Oil and Gas market specialising in software development for inventory management systems.  

Beginning his career as an AAT apprentice from school Carl has progressed up the ladder to a senior position and is an advocate for apprenticeships and education. With 20 years of finance experience across different sectors including distribution and manufacturing, Carl brings a breadth of financial experience to the Board and a continuous improvement mentality. 

Carl lives in Darlington, County Durham and has two young children. Carl has a passion for sports watching and attending and an interest in travel. 

Lesley Sewell, Independent Member


Greg Lyons, Independent Member

Greg was appointed to the board in October 2021 as an independent member. He is a Buyer and Operations Manager for Perry Process Equipment located in Newton Aycliffe. He has been with the business for the last 14 years. 

Greg began his career as an Administration Apprentice progressing through various positions ranging from Inventory Management, Engineering and Logistics. His current role sees him travel the UK and Europe, visiting production sites and meeting clients. Through his position he has extensive experience of working with and recruiting apprentices. 

Greg recently completed his BA (Hons) Degree in Management Practice. He is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Logistics & Transport, a Member of the Chartered Management Institute, a STEM Ambassador and also a qualified Mental Health First Aider. 

Greg is married with one child. His hobbies include playing/watching football, watching cricket and driving/working on classic cars. 

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.

Carole Loader, CQS Committee Member