Our Federation School Governors
Our Joint Chair of Governors are Elisabeth Charman and Gayle Baty.
Mrs Elisabeth Charman
Joint Chair of Governors
I have been a school governor at Broomhaugh First School since 2019 and now co-chair the Federation alongside Gayle. I live in the village and my two daughters attend Broomhaugh.
I trained as a research scientist and now work for the RSPB managing a team looking after the special wildlife and habitats we have in Northern England.
My interest in school governance began when my daughter started school. I believe First Schools play such an important role in shaping individuals and their futures and I wanted to use my skills and enthusiasm on the governing body to help support and drive improvement to our schools.
Mrs Gayle Baty
Joint Chair of Governors
I am an Early Years Professional with over 15 years experience in the early years sector. I grew up in Haydon Bridge and now own and manage my own child care business offering full and wrap around day care as well as early education.
I live on a farm just outside Corbridge near Bywell with my husband and growing family.
In my spare time I like to keep myself busy by volunteering to organise or take part in community events. I am currently also a trustee of the Newton and Bywell community hall.
I have previously been an active member of young farmers which gave me the opportunity to experience office bearing roles. I have been secretary and chair of my local club and I was county secretary for a year.
My children currently attend CFS and as a foundation governor I hope to make a positive contribution not only to their education but to the education of all children in Corbridge.
Mrs Hannah Thorpe
My name is Hannah Thorpe. I've lived in Riding Mill since 2010 and am Mum to two "graduates" of Broomhaugh First School: Iris, who is now at QEHS and Barnaby, who attends CMS. I served as BFS PTA Secretary for three and a half years as a way of getting involved in school life and raising funds, retiring when my facepainting arm needed a rest. I also secured Aviva funding to develop what is now the school Secret Garden and am thrilled to see it flourishing and well used.
After 18 years as a dentist (the majority of which I spent working as a Senior Dental Officer with the Community Dental Service, working with adults and children with additional needs), I had a rather unorthodox career change and now work from home as an artist.
Outside of work, I’m most likely to be seen wearing loud leggings and “running” round the local area. I’m Secretary for the Riding Mill Art Club where I'm a keen member. I love walking, fitness, sea swimming, music, socialising and reading.
Having been involved in the West of Northumberland Schools’ Consultation as an active member of the parent pressure group STARS, I became more aware of some of the financial and other external challenges faced by the education system. While I was obviously pleased with the outcome of the consultation, the fact remains that Northumberland County Council expects its schools to work more closely together and to become more resilient against a backdrop of an ever-decreasing education budget. By becoming a Foundation Governor I really hope that I can help our fabulous school to meet the challenges ahead whilst not compromising on the qualities which make it so special.
Mrs Suzanne Hart
Executive Head Teacher
I have been teaching for 18 years and have worked in a variety of settings across the North East for Durham County Council and in the independent sector. I have also been lucky enough to teach in Providence, Rhode Island and spent a month working with young people in the African country of Lesotho through the Durham Diocesan Link.
It is an honour to represent the children of Corbridge and Broomhaugh CofE First Schools and I love everything about working with young people. Their enthusiasm and curiosity for all aspects of life is wonderful to share in and develop, helping them to be the best that they can be!
I am a vocal advocate of mental health awareness and am particularly dedicated to meeting the emotional needs of the children in our care and the adults who work with them.
Mrs Carole Smith
I have lived in Riding Mill for over 40 years. During that time I have served on the Parish Council, as Chair of the governing body of Broomhaugh school – which my three children all attended – and have supported several village societies. I was involved in the fund-raising for the building of the Millennium Hall and the playpark.
For my whole working life I was a teacher in Northumberland schools. Although I retired some years ago, I have continued to take an interest in developments in education.
When I re-joined the Governing body at Broomhaugh in 2016, I was asked to chair the committee of Riding Mill Preschool and oversee its move to the school field. I remain a trustee of the preschool, now successfully operating from the school site and offering a unique Early Years experience.
Away from educational activities, I keep myself busy with golf, gym, gardening and grandchildren – not necessarily in that order – and membership of a number of voluntary committees. I know how much time and commitment is needed to be an effective school governor and this will be particularly true with the new federation. I hope that my time-management skills are still up to the job!
Mrs Ruth Symes
I have three children, one attending Broomhaugh and two attending Corbridge Middle school. I live in Riding Mill and enjoy taking an active role in the school and local community. I am the Treasurer on the PTA at Broomhaugh and also a trustee for the Village Halls Trust.
In my day job I am and Speech and Language Therapist. I have experience working in many different schools, including mainstream and specialist educational settings with children from 0-19. I work closely with parents, teachers, support staff and school leadership teams as well as other health, education and social care professionals.
Mr Stuart Turnbull
I have been a Parent Governor for Corbridge First School and the new federation since September 2021. Having lived in the Tyne Valley for over 10 years, the kindness, the friendliness, and the community spirit in Corbridge, is echoed by the values of this school, especially in how it supports families and puts children at the heart of everything it does.
I am married to Claire and have 3 children; our youngest son is currently in Year 3, and he loves his time at Corbridge First. I am employed as the Head of Architectural Services at Newcastle City Council and have spent over 25 years working on numerous major building projects including a £200 million Building Schools for the future program, which saw huge investment in several dilapidated and aged education buildings. I have strong skills in design, project management and Health and Safety and I felt that with my professional experience of working with schools to help them rebuild and refurbish the school estate, I could offer something to help emphasise the importance of the environment children are taught in as well as the fabulous work all the teaching and support staff do.
Away from work I enjoy long walks with my family and my crazy cocker spaniel Izzy, I am junior rugby coach at Tynedale RFC, and I am the proud owner of a 1950’s vintage Ferguson tractor which often crops up at various local events and shows and is always a talking point.
Mrs Monica Philbrick
Originally from the south east, I trained as a teacher, and taught for 5 years before the arrival of the first of my two daughters. I started working for Traidcraft as a volunteer, very much supporting the fair trade ethos of the company as a practical expression of my Christian beliefs. Then – with my family –I moved to Newcastle to work for the company.
I’ve developed materials for primary and secondary schools, run exhibitions and been part of several successful bids for EU and DFID money. Latterly I worked with “developing world”, and European colleagues, to support craft and food producers achieve fair trade compliance.
We moved to Corbridge in 2001, and with 4 grandsons under 8, I’ve revisited my interest in education.
Rev Diana Johnson
Diana is London-born and was brought up in Clerkenwell and Finchley, from which a place at Sandhurst beckoned. During 21 years of enjoyable military service some high points were active service, intelligence work in Berlin and teaching officer cadets at Sandhurst; before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Three years at Ridley Hall, Cambridge brought a master’s degree in Pastoral Theology to complement another in International Relations.
She held a variety of teaching posts at a school in Cambridge, including as an honorary lay chaplain, housemistress, head of humanities and director of virtual learning, for nearly 20 years.
Since being ordained priest, Diana has served the people of several churches in the East of England. She arrived as Priest in Charge of St James's, Riding Mill in July 2021 with a desire, among other things, to support teaching and learning in the community here. Diana has three grown-up daughters and is proud of three grandchildren, too. She enjoys hill-walking, photography and is seldom happier than when walking in the wild places of God’s creation.
Mrs Melanie Errington
I was recently appointed as Staff Governor. I am excited about my new role as it provides me
with further opportunity to work alongside staff and families whilst ensuring the children have
the opportunity to flourish and grow in their talents.
My connection with the school began when my “children” (now twenty-five, twenty-four and
twenty) started their school journey at Broomhaugh First School. In 2007 I then began my role
as a teaching assistant which then inspired me to train to become a teacher.
The school has a very special, friendly atmosphere, and a staff team (both recent and long
term) that, in my experience, puts the children’s welfare, safety and development right at the
top of their priorities, along with fun, adventure, stimulation and exploration; guiding and
nurturing them throughout their early school years with genuine care and professionalism. I am
extremely honoured to be part of the whole school vision and ethos.
Canon David Kennedy
I have been Vicar of St Andrew’s Church since October 2018. I was born in Newcastle and brought up in South Shields and after University I trained for the ministry in Nottingham. Since ordination I have been a Curate in Spennymoor, a theological educator in Birmingham, a Rector in Darlington, and before coming to Corbridge I worked for 17 years at Durham Cathedral, including 15 years as Vice-Dean. I am married to Janet and we have three adult children. I have been a School Governor for over 35 years in both the maintained and independent sectors including a major role at the Chorister School in Durham. I am also a part-time lecturer at Durham University. My hobbies include music, reading, most sports, cooking, and walking. Supporting the work of our School is a privilege and joy.
Miss Emma Florek
Associate Member (CFS DHT)
I started teaching at Corbridge First School in 2015 and have experience teaching in each key stage, leading a number of core and non- core subjects, moderating and working with our partnership schools. I have loved every experience I have gained since my first day at CFS. Last year I was lucky enough to teach at Broomhaugh First School, on secondment, so I feel incredibly grateful to have experience teaching in both of our fantastic schools.
The unique personality, energy and raw potential of each child fascinates me and I passionately believe this can and must be developed through the delivery of a high-quality and fun education. I feel every child should feel safe, supported and challenged and every staff member should be respected, supported and inspired.
Prior to teaching I gained a Fine Art Degree. I also have a love for singing and running therefore as Deputy Head at CFS I promote creative, fun and active learning in which every child is given the opportunity to flourish and develop their own personal strengths.
Mr Andrew Gardner
Mrs Nicki Burton
Associate member (BFS DHT)
I have been a teacher for over 20 years. Prior to my role at Broomhaugh, I taught across all key stages at Corbridge and before that I was based in Gateshead. My interest in teaching began at a very young age when I began teaching ballet to younger children. As a dancer, I performed and competed across the country. I worked as a children's entertainer in a travelling magic show on a range of different holiday parks. Once I secured my degree in Early Childhood Studies, I knew it was time to step away from the stage and work towards becoming a teacher. To this day I combine both interests by running extra-curricular dance and drama clubs.
During my PGCE, I became an early years specialist and I haven't looked back since. The vast majority of my teaching experience has been in EYFS. I just love how exciting the world is to our youngest learners and find their love of the world fascinating. They are so brilliantly curious and absorb absolutely everything. I relish at how they attack every single learning opportunity in their own unique way.
In my role as deputy headteacher at Broomhaugh, working with the whole school community has given me the opportunity to support a wider range of children, staff and parents to seize opportunities to become the very best they can be. I am excited to be a part of the governing body to further support the Federation of Broomhaugh and Corbridge CE First School.
Mrs Di Dickinson
I am a music graduate of Newcastle University. Besides raising our four children I worked part-time until retirement, teaching in various schools either as peripatetic violin and piano teacher, or taking class music. The varied educational experiences of our ten grand-children have kept me up to date with schooling and as they set off on training and jobs I look forward to reconnecting with younger children.
I have lived in Riding Mill since 1974 and had children at Broomhaugh between 1974 and 1980 where my late husband was for some years a governor. I have always been involved in village and church life and remain convinced of the valuable contribution that belonging to a strong community makes to a child’s security and mental resilience.
I am Secretary of Hexham Music Society which involves fixing professional concerts and I am a member of two local orchestras. I enjoy walking, playing tennis and reading.