Baron Neuberger of Abbotsbury has been the President of the Seckford Foundation since 2011. Lord Neuberger was called to the Bar in 1974, took silk in 1987 and was appointed a High Court Judge in 1996. He became a Lord of Appeal in 2007 and in 2009 was appointed Master of the Rolls. On 1 October 2012 he became President of the Supreme Court. He retired from The Supreme Court in 2017 and now practices as a commercial arbitrator for one Essex Court.
Lord Neuberger was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford University.
Lord Neuberger was a governor of the University of the Arts London for ten years until 2010 and is the Chairman of the Schizophrenia Trust.
In 2006 Lord Neuberger led an investigation for the Bar Council into widening access to the barrister profession. He also served on the panel on fair access to the professions led by Alan Milburn.
I spent a lot of my childhood in and around Woodbridge and I was delighted to be asked to chair the Foundation in early 2020. I hope I bring enthusiasm, compassion and plenty of commercial experience to all the Foundation’s activities. I was CEO of Pret A Manger for seventeen years and learned the importance team member engagement and a sense of purpose to any organisation. I believe the Foundation’s reputation is based on the excellence of its operations and my goal is for Seckford Care, Woodbridge School and our Trust Schools to be best in class.
“The Foundation’s contribution to educating, enabling and broadening the opportunity of young people in Suffolk inspires me”.
Having attended Woodbridge School and grown up a 5-minute walk from the front gates, I have a very strong affinity with the School, its values and the local community. I also have a first-hand appreciation for the significant difference that the Foundation makes to young people, as it was their financial support that made my attendance at the School possible. I studied Engineering at Cambridge, before joining a specialist governance advisory firm, Lintstock. I hope to bring the voice of the younger generation into the boardroom, in addition to the governance and analytical expertise that I have gained through my day job.
“What I admire about Woodbridge School is the way the team are masters at bringing out the best in every student”.
I was invited to join the board in early 2020 having returned to Suffolk with my wife, three children and dog after living overseas for five years. After growing up on the North West, I attended the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, going on to serve for over 17 years in many of the major hot spots around the world. I was made an MBE in 2007 and have an MBA from Cranfield University. Having held senior roles with Careem, Uber and Brunswick, the expertise I hope to bring to the Seckford Foundation is in strategy development, reputation management and promoting positive change.
Trustee of Seckford Education Trust
“I believe that an excellent education, with a strong emphasis on inclusion and pastoral care, is vital for every student to reach their full potential”.
After a degree in English at Oxford, my first job was teaching English as a Foreign Language, in Madrid. I qualified as a chartered accountant and have over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and in senior executive roles, leading strategic transformation programmes for companies across the UK, Europe and USA, most recently in commercial banking at NatWest. I join Barclays Bank in April 2021 to lead their work on sustainability and climate change. I have been a trustee of a charity focused on arts, education and disability for many years, sponsored social mobility apprenticeships at NatWest and mentor students and apprentices from diverse backgrounds. I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the important work of the Seckford Foundation and the Trust in giving each and every child the opportunity of a first class education and helping them reach their full potential.
As a beneficiary of a state education, I have personal experience of how a good education can influence life chances. All children deserve a first class education and I am delighted that I have the opportunity to assist in the work that the Seckford Foundation does in this area. By background I am a scientist, with a degree in Biochemistry, followed by a 30 year career as a Chartered Accountant working mainly on large corporate transactions. My interest in education has involved voluntary roles in head teacher mentoring, governorships of academies and currently as a Trustee of the Academies Enterprise Trust. Through my role as Chair of the Schools, Students and Teachers network (SSAT) I am a keen follower of developments in teaching best practice. I am keen to use my experience to help the Foundation deliver outstanding outcomes for all of its beneficiaries.
“I believe passionately that we all need access to quality and excellence”.
I became a Trustee of the Seckford Foundation in 2017, having previously served as a Care Committee Member. I was born in Suffolk, graduated from University College London in Geography, am a Fellow of the Institute of Housing and now live in Felixstowe with my family. I have led charities and housing organisations such as Chair of World Habitat and Orwell Housing Association and served as a trustee of charities and housing associations with local, national and global reaches.
Dr Geoff Holdcroft
“I hope to represent the interests of the community on the Foundation Board”.
I became a Trustee in 2017 as the Woodbridge Town Council nominee. I have now lived in Suffolk for half my life having moved from Staffordshire to join BT at Adastral Park in 1985. During my time there, I had a number of career moves starting with research into optical electrochemistry and ending up helping to launch new start-up businesses. I am a lifelong learner with a law degree, a doctorate in Chemistry and an MBA in Strategic Management. After leaving BT, I spent ten years in local government, the last four as Deputy Leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council.
“I have a particular interest in pastoral care and safeguarding”.
I am Suffolk born and bred and attended Farlingaye High School before completing a Law with German degree at the University of Birmingham followed by Law School at the College of Law in York. After several years away, I returned home to Suffolk to join Birketts LLP, where I remain today as a Senior Associate in the shipping, logistics and international trade team. I live in Woodbridge with my husband and young son.
I joined the board in 2017 and am the governor responsible for safeguarding at Woodbridge School. I have a particular interest in pastoral care and hope to support and encourage the excellent work that the Foundation and School does in safeguarding and nurturing the young people within its care.
Margaret McKenna MA MBA FCMA
I am a chartered management accountant with an MBA from London Business School, which I obtained after taking a degree in Physics at Oxford University. I have worked for over twenty years as Bursar of sizeable independent schools (Sherborne, then Felsted) and have experience of Prep and Senior Schools, boarding and international students. I have also served as Governor of two independent Prep Schools (and Chair of Sherborne Prep School) and as Chairman of the Independent Schools’ Bursars’ Association. I can therefore bring significant experience of schools, both at a strategic and operational level. Whilst my primary focus is on Woodbridge School, I am proud to be involved with Seckford Care and SET and continue to develop the ways I can contribute to their success.
“The cultural and historic heritage plus sense of community that is so prevalent at Woodbridge School is an impressive combination”.
With over 30 years as Director of a property development company, my business career has been focused on the creation of large-scale research and business parks across the region, such as Colchester and Chelmsford Business Parks. My wife and I have lived in Woodbridge since 1981 and our three girls all attended Woodbridge School. I have been Woodbridge Town Mayor on three occasions. As a Trustee of Woodbridge Museum, I am keen to see the wonderful history of Woodbridge told to an even wider audience. I bring this passion and experience to the Seckford Foundation and try to ensure that the estate is managed in a way that contributes positively to the Foundation and wider community.
“The various Seckford Foundation operations are in activities experiencing profound market and sector changes”.
Our family came to live in Woodbridge after spending twenty four years in different parts of the world. Our children have been at Woodbridge School and it has been a pleasure to use my business experience to support the Foundation and the community. Recently I have been able to draw on my experiences to help the board evaluate strategies and management to navigate the challenges of Covid.
A healthy Seckford Foundation is incredibly important for those in our care in Woodbridge and the surrounding area, and being a Governor has really connected me to the place we are lucky enough to live in.
James Wellesley Wesley
Chairman of Seckford Education Trust
“I’m proud of the contribution that the Seckford Education Trust has made to state school education in Suffolk and its particularly positive impact on Disadvantaged students”.
We’ve lived in Suffolk for over 30 years and have seen all five of our daughters thrive at Woodbridge School and then move on to diverse careers – art, finance, dance, communications and medicine. For 30 years my career was in investment banking and then moved in more entrepreneurial directions including setting up IT services and recruitment companies. Since 2011 I’ve been Chair of the multi academy trust established by the Foundation to run secondary and primary state schools in Suffolk. Our fully comprehensive schools live up to our vision to focus on ‘each and every child’. At the top end we get great academic results but we also deliver significant progress for about 40% of our students who are Disadvantaged, including many who have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
Co-opted Committee Members
Sarah Hill embarked upon a career in media planning with BMP following her English degree from Exeter, subsequently becoming media director of DMB&B in Hong Kong. Returning to London she became a board director of Young & Rubicam. During her family’s five year stint in Moscow she was trustee and chair of the British registered charity Action for Russia’s Children.
Sarah has four children at Woodbridge School. She is a Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer and is a member of Ipswich Orchestral Society. She also enjoys running, cycling and sailing.
Finance & Audit Committee
Stephen Doe is a Financial Planner and Managing Director of Big Skies Wealth Management. His career as an IFA followed 20 years in equity research in London, Hong Kong, Jakarta and New York for firms including Morgan Stanley and UBS. In his spare time Stephen is Treasurer of the Ipswich Town FC Supporters Club, a trustee and Assistant Treasurer of the Disability Advice Service East Suffolk and is a keen traveller.
Alex Skailes is Director of consulting at the Cass Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness and teaches on the Cass MSc programme. Prior to focusing on the nonprofit sector, she held senior roles with PwC and Deutsche Bank. Alex is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and holds their post graduate diploma in charity accounting. She has an MSc in Voluntary Sector Management from Cass Business School, a BA in Geography from University College, London and is a Fellow of the RSA and RGS. Alex is a Freeman of the City of London and until 2016 was Chair of Community Action Suffolk.
Dr Alison Townsley is a GP partner at Framfield House Surgery and medical officer for the boarders at Woodbridge School. She grew up in Sydney Australia and moved to the UK where she went to school in Surrey. She studied medicine at The University of Nottingham and then moved to London where she completed her GP training at Ealing and Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals. She moved to Suffolk in 2011 and took up her current position at Framfield House Surgery. She is very involved in training and teaches medical students from the UEA and is a postgraduate trainer of future GPs. She lives in Aldeburgh with her husband, their two children (one of which has just started at Woodbridge School Prep) and their two spaniels!