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Orchard Community Trust

We're a Multi-Academy-Trust, based in Stoke-on-Trent.

Together we learn,
grow and achieve
Together we learn,
grow and achieve

Our Members and Trustees

Our Trustees and Members


Andrew Smith – Member

Andrew was born in Burslem and after studying law at Cambridge spent most of his working life in Stoke-on-Trent, including a long spell as solicitor and then Head of Business Services at a national legal practice based in Staffordshire. 


Andrew has extensive experience of school governance.  During his time as Chair at Abbey Hill School and Performing Arts College the school was graded twice as “outstanding”. As well as negotiating with the LA to secure a newbuild school as part of “Building Schools for the Future”, he also served as Chair of Stoke-on-Trent Schools’ Forum. 


As the founding Chair of Orchard, Andrew helped to lead the Trust Board through its formative years and the pandemic. He continues to take an active interest in its flourishing now as Chair of the Members. He is passionate about quality, wellbeing, good governance and equality and diversity, which he has brought to his work as an NHS and Fire Service board member, Healthcare Chaplain, Coach and Psychotherapist. Andrew’s deep commitment to children and education is lifelong: he is an adoptive father of two boys and after gaining his PhD began teaching at Keele University. 


Catherine Matlock - Member

Catherine is a Pioneer Minister with Lichfield Diocese, Church of England, based in Stoke on Trent. Although a gifted primary school educator herself, Catherine’s mother consistently advised Catherine never to become a teacher! Unusually, Catherine complied, taking up an eclectic career after studying psychology at university. A variety of skills and experiences were gathered within the recruitment industry, counselling, community development with disabled and Deaf people and Chief Executive with a charitable organisation in Devon, before leaving the UK to serve with several Christian ministries overseas.


Over six years later, a deep and searching spiritual discernment process and a Masters in Theology, led Catherine to accept the invitation to ordination in the Church of England, training at Queens Foundation, Birmingham. Never feeling called to parish ministry, miraculously Catherine was offered a pioneer curacy in a large Birmingham outer estate, Druids Heath. This environment enabled her passion for asset-based community development to flourish in relationship with those considered most marginalised in society.


At the end of curacy, Catherine took up her current role in September 2021, Championing Pioneer Ministry across Lichfield Diocese and facilitating alternative expressions of Christianity outside traditional church settings in Stoke on Trent. After fifty years’ circumventing the teaching profession, at last Catherine has the opportunity to witness the richness of human and spiritual potential present in schools, in both students and staff. Recognising the challenges of deprivation and division in our City, Catherine’s hope is to encourage peacebuilding and community development within the communities of Stoke on Trent, our children and young people leading the way.


Lorraine Whitehead - Member

Lorraine is an Executive Director at University Hospitals North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) where she commenced as an YTS Trainee at the age of 16.  Her first managerial role in the NHS was in Estates and Facilities and it is here that Lorraine fell in love with the profession. She undertook a wide range of managerial roles within Estates, Facilities and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), prior to becoming Director of Estates, Facilities and PFI in 2017. 


Lorraine has a Masters in Facilities Management and extensive experience of working collaboratively with PFI partners and contributes her expertise at a national level through her work with the Cabinet Office’s Supplier Relationship Management Programme. She is a values driven leader with strong professional standards and expectations, driven by the delivery of safe, compassionate and effective care.


Lorraine was born in Stoke-on-Trent and faced difficult early challenges in life growing up in the care of the Local Authority.  She is keen to draw on this lived experience and inspire disadvantaged children to realise their full potential.


Christopher Tarr - Member

Chris has recently retired after a very long and active career working in a range of business sectors.  As a GPO technical apprentice, he rose to the rank of technical officer and also acted as assistant area Engineer.  He then set up his own textiles manufacturing company supplying major high street stores together with securing overseas contracts.  Chris has also worked for a health and safety company handling the requirements of national and multi-national companies.  He was ultimately responsible to the directors to run and manage the tender department which involved tenders valued in excess of £10 Million


Chris is from North Staffordshire and is actively involved in charity work.  He is keen to support children from disadvantaged areas such as Stoke-on-Trent achieve their full potential and would like to offer his professional skills to support the Trent Community Trust.


Gill Howell - Member, Trustee and Chair of the Board of Trustees

Gill has a wide range of experience spanning both administration and education.  She was Head of Business Studies at a large 11-18 school in Staffordshire before coming to work in Stoke-on-Trent on a variety of initiatives including widening participation and served as Director of the City-wide 14-19 Collegiate.  As part of the Local Authority’s Education Team, Gill worked as an advisor focusing on developing collaborative working across schools, colleges, HE, work-based learning providers, employers and other agencies.  More recently, Gill has worked as an external consultant and supported the special schools in Stoke-on-Trent to establish a co-operative Trust and subsequently went on the help to set up Orchard Community Trust. 


Since becoming a Governor at a local primary school over 5 years ago,  Gill has taken on the role of link Governor for safeguarding, special needs and personal, social and health education.  She has also chaired the local board of Governors and the Finance and Resources Committee. 


Gill believes passionately in the importance of collaboration and partnership working to help to improve the lives of the disadvantaged children and young people across our schools.


Sue Thomas - Trustee and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees

Whilst now mostly retired, Sue has extensive experience of working within the public, private and voluntary sectors in the Midlands, North of England and occasionally elsewhere.  She works to champion co-production and collaboration between children's services, most of all championing the 'voice' of children, young people and young adults facing significant challenges in their lives.  Through her wide variety of roles, she has worked closely with Children’s Services, Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards and other strategic partnerships. 

As part of her role as National Outreach Manager for Children England, Sue was Programme Manager for Stoke City Council Inclusion Service’s ‘Listen to My Voice’ programme, devising toolkits and training to assist any organisation to think about how they engage young people in their services following on from her role as Regional Manager for the Safe Network (NSPCC/Children England) and ‘Champion for Children’ for Stoke-on-Trent. 

Sue has been an independent member of the Stoke-on-Trent fostering panel for some years and has also held the role of national trustee and vice chair of the Pre-school Learning Alliance a national organisation supporting early years care and education. 

As an external consultant, Sue worked to assist organisations review their safeguarding, engagement, inclusion and anti-bullying policies, and helps small and large children’s charities develop/review their constitutions, leadership and management skills and plans.


Margaret Tatton - Trustee

Margaret is a retired Deputy Headteacher, who worked in a large inner-city high school. Prior to senior leadership roles, she was Head of Religious Studies; also teaching history, citizenship and law. Margaret had particular responsibility for training new teachers as well as the appraisal and professional development of all staff both teaching and support. She was also involved in developing strategies for effective classroom management and safeguarding procedures. Margaret supported staff in a range of educational settings to implement and monitor these strategies effectively. She served on the strategic board for the GTP programme. Margaret was a member of SACRE which is responsible for writing and monitoring the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education. She was a member of the consultative management group of one of the largest examination boards charged with developing and tracking new national qualifications and grading systems. She has extensive experience in inspecting and observing the conduct of external examinations at all levels, including Key Stage 2 SATs. Margaret has served on short listing and interviewing committees appointing a range of staff including Headteachers. She has conducted competency and capability procedures including coaching staff to successful outcomes.


Margaret is a Governor at Oakhill Primary and until recently Alexandra Federation; she is link governor for Pupil Premium, Key stage 2 and Head teacher’s Performance Management. Committee responsibilities include Resources, HR, Staff Welfare, Appointments and Exclusions.


Margaret is a member of West End Methodist Church and Centre; two churches came together to convert an almost derelict pub into a church and community centre. Having raised just under a million pounds to convert the building they were successful in obtaining a lottery grant for £490,000 to employ three staff. She was part of the group which put together bids for grants and now supports other groups in their bids for funding. Recently they were runner up in the Sentinel Heroes Awards in the Community section. Margaret volunteers with Foodbank and is the safeguarding officer for the Church and Centre.


Robert Johnstone - Trustee

Robert is currently the Senior Executive Leader of the Orchard Community Trust-MAT. He is an experienced education professional with many years of experience in this field. He is a qualified teacher and has during his career been a teacher, Deputy Headteacher and he has been a Headteacher of two schools. He has worked for different local authorities as an Advisor, Strategic Manager and most recently as the Acting Assistant Director for Learning Services. 


Robert is experienced in supporting and challenging schools to help them to improve and has experience of developing teaching and learning across Early Years settings and primary schools. He is also skilled in developing leaders to sustain improvement in their schools. He has managed a wide range of LA education services, including Schools improvement, Special Educational Needs, Admissions, Traded Services, Governor Support and Employment Learning and Skills. Robert is a skilful negotiator, communicator and can motivate colleagues to learn and do well.


He also has experience as an OfSTED Inspector, School Improvement Partner and a Primary Assessment Moderator. He has been an Opportunity Area board member in Stoke-on-Trent. Robert is currently a Trustee on 2 local Multi Academy Trust boards and is a Governor in a local Primary School.


Lorna Maden - Trustee

Lorna Maden has a long history of working in public service and is currently the Director of Finance Business Partnering at the Ministry of Justice.  She joined the Civil Service in the early 1990s and has worked extensively with prisons and MOJ HQ functions in the West Midlands and London.

As Director of Finance Business Partnering, Lorna is the Finance Director for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and the Ministry of Justice’s other main executive agencies, including the Legal Aid Agency.  She also leads the provision of business partnering support to the Ministry of Justice corporate services functions.

As well as being a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants, Lorna has a background in Criminology having graduated from Cambridge University with a Master of Studies degree in Advanced Criminology, Penology and Management.


Lorna has lived in North Staffordshire for many years, where her children attended local schools.  She joined the Trust in 2018 to help support the attainment of improved outcomes for the children within the Trust’s community.

In her spare time, Lorna actively pursues a health and wellbeing regime, including walking, indoor cycling, weights and resistance training.


Nick Carter - Trustee 

Before recently retiring from teaching Nick worked for 36 years at an Independent School in Newcastle-under-Lyme. During his career at the School Nick had a wide range of responsibilities with the main focus being pastoral care. As Head of Year 7 he was responsible for organising transfer from a range of Junior Schools into Year 7.  In 1995 Nick completed a Masters Degree in Education with a focus on the teaching of Sex Education in Schools. Nick has been Contingent Commander of the Combined Cadet Force at the School since 2003 and he continues to undertake this role in his retirement.


Nick became a Governor at Abbey Hulton Primary School in 2017.  Since his retirement he has volunteered at the School assisting with Science teaching in Year 5 and 6.


Stephen Lawley - Trustee

Steve had a long and active career with BT, starting as an engineering apprentice in Crewe. He worked his way up into management, and over the years through to a number of senior management positions before leaving the company in 2017.  He attended college in Staffordshire and had an office in Hanley, even though his work travels took him right across the UK.  He has extensive experience leading and managing large teams of people and the associated budget responsibilities too, including leading on business continuity and health & safety requirements.  He was also a business mentor with The Princes Trust, supporting young people set up new businesses.


After leaving BT, Steve set up a successful business consultancy and is active with a number of clients supporting and driving their own business development plans.


Steve lives in Nantwich and is married with two grown up sons. He is keen to help the Trust support all the schools in its community to develop and flourish and secure the very best outcomes for all of its learners. 


Rosalyn Fagan - Trustee

Ros is an experienced and successful services director whose strong leadership and business transformation qualities have been acquired working within the housing and public sectors over the last 17 years, working with one of the sector’s main ICT and managed service providers.

Transforming businesses and influencing cultural change, aligning people, processes and technology has been a huge part of Ros’s career, with extensive experience leading and managing large teams of people and the associated budget responsibilities.


Ros has recently set up a successful consultancy business. She is working with Ark Consultancy as an Associate and has recently worked with a northern Registered Provider to review the operations of its large Direct Labour Organisation with a view to improving its commerciality and expanding its operations. She also has recent experience of working with two southern-based Registered Providers with regard to a Business Plan for in-sourcing maintenance services from an external provider.


In her spare time, Ros actively pursues a health and wellbeing regime, including indoor cycling, weights and Yoga.


Ros is keen to help the Trust support all the schools in its community to improve the lives of the disadvantaged children and young people.


Carolyn Higgs - Trustee

Carolyn has a strong background in leading and supporting education, vocational education, workforce training programmes and family support across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. She has worked within a variety of organisations including national (Learning & Skills Council) & Local Government (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) and a national local voluntary organisation (NSPCC), recently supporting initiatives within the Stoke-on-Trent DfE Opportunity Area programme.


Until 5 years ago, she was the Commissioning Strategic Manager for Stoke-on-Trent City Council for specialist level children and young people’s services which included developing and running the Aiming High programme, the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health services for children and young people, tackling CSE (children sexual exploitation) and helped to create the Hazel Trees centre. 


Her background also includes strategic planning, project management and workforce development.  More recently, as an external consultant, she has focused on the delivery of the Behaviour & Attendance project and the innovative Family by Family initiative as part of the DfE Opportunity Area programme.


She is passionate about early identification and support for children and their families, helping them to thrive and be the best they can be. She is also an advocate for the voice of the child to be at centre of safe decision making, improving the emotional & wellbeing of children and their family and encouraging the identification and sharing of good practice across supportive networks.


She has strong family networks, has a strong Christian faith, is active within her local community and enjoys spending time outdoors – gardening and walking.


Rosemary Vaughan - Trustee 

Ro has worked in Human Resources in the NHS for just over 36 years and is due to retire in early January 2023 from her role as Chief People Officer on the Board of University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.  She has been associated with health services in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent for most of her career making a significant contribution to the development of acute healthcare and the people employed to deliver it.  She has extensive experience across the spectrum of Human Resources practice.


Ro has a Masters in Human Resources Leadership, is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Personnel and Development and is an ILM Accredited Coach.  She also undertook the role of Governor at Stoke on Trent College for a period of 8 years.


Ro is committed to supporting the development of individuals, encouraging them to reach their full potential and to pursue their goals and ambitions.  She has a passion for education and personal development, recognising the vital connection between the  strong foundations of good education and positive health outcomes.  She has high integrity and believes in the values demonstrated by the Christian faith. 


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Trust Office Manager, Orchard Community Trust, Genesis Centre,

North Staffs Business Park, Innovation Way,

Stoke on Trent, ST6 4BF

Company Number : 11620282

Registered in England