Meet the Board

Tony Edwards, Chair

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

He has been active in a range of external committees to do with the strategic development of Further Education. Tony presents the annual Derwentside College Achievement Awards.

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. He has won several awards from the Royal Television Society (RTS).

For a number of years Tony was the Festival Director of the RTS 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.

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.

Geoff Marshall, Independent Member

Geoff was appointed to the Board in April 2001 and is a Member of the Audit 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 Trustee of the Land of Oak & Iron Trust, the Ebchester Boathouse Development Partnership and the Ebchester Village Trust. He is also Secretary of the Ebchester Community Association.

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

Geoff Gibson, Independent Member

Geoff was appointed to the Board in March 2008 and is currently Chair of Audit Committee. 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.

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.

Cathryn Richards, Teaching Staff Member

Cathryn was appointed to the Board in June 2014 as the Academic Staff Member and has worked at the College since 1997, as a course leader and lecturer in Accounting. She is a qualified accountant and a Fellow Member of the AAT.

Prior to working at the College, Cathryn was a student where she achieved her accounting and teaching qualifications. Cathryn has also been employed in several different jobs including being the Assistant Accountant 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 two foster "grandchildren" 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. 

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.

Brandon Layton, Student Member

Brandon is our student governor and is a determined young man who has used education to exceed all expectations despite being diagnosed with Autism at a young age. Brandon won the Festival of Learning’s Outstanding Individual Learner Award 2020, which was an immense achievement.

Brandon studied at the College where he progressed from the Foundation Learning course through to Business Administration and ICT Level 2 before leaving College after successfully completing the Access to Humanities Course, which allowed him to progress onto university.

Currently, Brandon is studying International Relations at Durham University. This was unimaginable for him before starting, and ultimately completing, College. Brandon states that ‘Derwentside College has given him the necessary skills to progress, not just through university, but through the rest of his life’.

Brandon enjoys spending time with his niece, reading, walking and canoeing.

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.