Welcome to RNC website image
John Ryan - Chair of Governors

It is an enormous privilege to chair the RNC Board. I joined the Board in February 2016, became chair of the Education and Training Committee in 2017 and Vice Chair in February 2019. I began my three-year term of office as Chair in February 2020. My professional life was spent mostly in higher education, carrying out a variety of roles over a 36 year period at four universities, the last 15 years at the University of Worcester. I stood down from my role as University Secretary and Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) in July 2015 and for the next three years, undertook work for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and taught on a Postgraduate Certificate course in Leadership, Management and Governance.
I am passionate about education, social justice and about supporting people to achieve their full potential, in spite of any challenges or barriers placed before them.

It was for these reasons that I wanted to serve on the RNC Board. After four years I continue to be inspired by the dedication and commitment of RNC staff and the resourcefulness and resilience of our students. Our mission - education, empowerment and employment for all people with a visual impairment - is so important and my task as Chair is to develop further and strengthen the College's reputation as the leading national provider of education and training to people who are blind or visually impaired.
Jonathan Brew - Vice Chair of Governors



Jonathan has recently retired from a distinguished career in the law. He trained with a large firm in Manchester and on qualification moved to Chester where he met his wife Anne. They then moved to Worcester in 1983 with Jonathan joining the then firm of Harrison Clark solicitors as a salaried partner. Initially he specialised in criminal law but quickly realised the potential for a family law practice and set about building one of the largest family law departments in the country. He became the firm’s overall senior partner in 2003.

The firm has since expanded considerably, merging with Rickerbys in Cheltenham and with Shawcross solicitors in Ross-on-Wye and now includes its own clinical negligence firm, the Medical Accident Group, and its own HR specialists Eagle HR. In May 2017 Harrison Clark Rickerbys merged with Gordon Lutton and Co. Solicitors in Hereford, and more recently with Hewitsons Solicitors of Cambridge, London, Northampton and Milton Keynes.
Jonathan sat for 5 years as a Deputy District Judge on the Oxford and Midland circuit. Since retiring as a full time lawyer, he continues his association with HCR on a consultancy basis. He was appointed as a Fellow of the University of Worcester and has a strong association with the Law School at the University forming and chairing its legal forum. The Worcestershire Law Society presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2018 in recognition and acknowledgement of his expertise in family law and his contribution to the local legal profession.

Jonathan is now serving a second term on RNC’s Board of Governors and sits on the Finance, Development & Commercial Committee and is the Governor Health & Safety link. He is also a trustee of Blindcare, a charity established in 1993 to support people with sight loss.
Jennifer Barnes

Jennifer is Associate Head of School for Student Experience at Coventry University, supporting academic staff, educating senior NHS leaders and international Global Healthcare Management students. She is a director of JBH Training Ltd in Worcester which provides complementary therapy and teacher training. She is also a university external examiner/external advisor, a board member of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) and a trustee of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine (RCCM).
As a holistic and sports massage therapist, complementary therapist and educator for over 15 years, she is passionate about equality, inclusivity and making learning and professional experiences available to all. Jennifer is a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy, member of the Massage Training Institute (MTI) and Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT).

Elliot Bastable


The majority of my career so far has been in the legal/housing sector. From 2016 to 2021, I was a Paralegal for a multinational law firm based in Birmingham, where I specialised in conveyancing for some of the largest house builders in the UK. I have vast experience and expertise in residential as well as affordable housing property transactions.

I also have experience in the areas of regulation, quality assurance and compliance which I have gained in my capacity as a Regulation and Assurance Officer for Citizen Housing, a large social housing provider based in Birmingham.
I have roots in Hereford, where I was born, so I feel incredibly proud to be a part of RNC, which is of course a huge source of pride for Hereford.

I have a huge passion for supporting people to fulfil their potential and achieve their goals. It is for this reason that I look forward to using my skills to serve the College and its students.
Sonya Bryson


An industry thought leader at the forefront of innovation in commercial insurance, Sonya brings an entrepreneurial, change-oriented approach to control of a £400m SME UK insurance portfolio, motivating an industry-leading team of 400 for Direct Line Group (DLG). 

Career highlights include turning around NIG to deliver double-digit growth for the first time in a decade, establishing an effective profit improvement plan followed by a seamless transition into sustainable growth. Sonya future-proofed NIG, establishing a new strategy aligned to emerging market trends.
Driven by values of honesty, transparency and meritocracy, she is inspired by a love of learning and is a champion of diversity and inclusion, with a passion for empowering women in workplaces traditionally dominated by men.
Jeremy Clarke-Morris



Jeremy is the tax partner of Kendall Wadley LLP a chartered accountancy firm which employs around 40 people over three offices in Worcester, Malvern and Hereford and is one of the largest independent chartered accountancy firms in the area.

Jeremy has overall responsibility for the firm’s tax department and deals with all aspects of taxation. As well as a vast amount of personal tax experience, Jeremy has much expertise in dealing with corporate and transactional tax. His client base includes high net worth individuals, professional practices and multi-national companies.

Over the years Jeremy has acted as a trustee of many not for profit organisations, including Sight Concern Worcestershire and Worcestershire Ambassadors, and is currently Treasurer to the Worcestershire Community Foundation. The role of the Foundation is to distribute donor funds to the local community. He has also been entrusted with the role of managing a charitable trust set up by a philanthropic client.

Jeremy is a member of the Finance, Development & Commercial Committee.  

Kerry Diamond

Kerry is a qualified accountant with over 30 years’ experience at senior level within the Automotive and Packaging sectors including international assignments in Belgium and Germany. Kerry was Chief Finance Officer of Zytek, a German owned Automotive group of companies, from 2008 and was responsible for Finance HR, Law and IT for the group in the UK and USA. She grew up in Chester and graduated from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Economic and International Politics and worked in North Wales until moving to Herefordshire in 1996. She is experienced in the areas of restructuring, acquisition, integration, and securing State Aid support in Wales and England and is Chair of the Welsh Investment and Development Advisory Board.
Kerry was a founder member of Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and was Vice Chair 2014-17, chairing the funding group for 6 years. More recently Kerry has been invited to chair the Birmingham City Council Green Bridge and HS2 Supply Chain European funded Grant panel, which also includes the Herefordshire based businesses.

Kerry is Chair of RNC’s Audit & Assurance Committee.
Peter Flynn

Peter enjoyed a long career of twenty-five years in the military, serving as an officer in the Parachute Regiment; he has a deep knowledge of strategy, planning, operations and leadership. He also spent two years in the Royal Household as Equerry to TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. During this time he had a great deal of interaction with the Prince’s charities and voluntary organisations, including the Royal National College for the Blind, of which His Royal Highness is Patron.

Peter is now a Director at PwC where he specialises in career transition, senior talent management, general consulting and facilitating strategy planning sessions for charities and Not For Profit organisations. He is also on the board of a number of other charities.

 

Peter feels a great affinity with the College and its work, having grown up nearby and attended the primary school opposite RNC! He wanted to be as supportive as possible and tends to help with overall strategy, fundraising and general networking, particularly in London, where he works during the week.

‘I get an enormous amount out of working for RNC. The hope that a young person’s life is profoundly changed for the better, by their experience at the College is a strong motivation. I’ve been so impressed by the determination and achievements of the students and I feel privileged to play a small part in helping them to achieve their goals.'
Peter Gebbie

I served in the Army for 14 years, working mainly in security duties. Most of my service was in the United Kingdom but I also had postings to (West) Germany as part of the grand old British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), Lebanon and Hong Kong.

Following my army service, I was a police officer and police staff member for nearly 26 years. My duties included management of police resources, as well as the command of critical incidents such as pursuits and firearms deployments. Nearly all my service was in Herefordshire.

Currently I work for the local authority in a business continuity and emergency planning function. This is a wide-ranging role covering amongst main things, county wide flooding planning and response, as well as cyber related events.
I am really pleased that I can use my skills and experience to support the Trustees and provide the necessary oversight at RNC.

I have lived in South Herefordshire for nearly 30 years with my wife. We have two dogs and my punishment and her enjoyment is our unruly garden.

Peter is an Associate Governor and attends the Audit & Assurance Committee.
Simon Hairsnape

Simon worked in the NHS for over 40 years, firstly in hospital services and public health and then in several senior management roles, most recently as Accountable Officer of Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Simon is now involved in several local and national charities, the magistracy, chairs a local Parish Council and is a Fellow of the RSA.

Simon chairs RNC's Finance, Development & Commercial Committee.

Simon notes that:

'I joined the RNC team because I wanted to contribute to an organisation which benefits young people. Since becoming a governor, I have found my personal involvement to be hugely rewarding.'
Helen Miles

I am a solicitor who specialises in advice to companies and trustees on the operation of occupational pension schemes. I have spent more than 20 years as a partner in several international legal practices, currently at Gunnercooke lip. I have been recognised by the leading directories (Chambers' Guide and the Legal 500) since 2002 and have been shortlisted in the Professional Women in Pensions Awards three times.

Outside of my legal practice, I am Chair of the NHS Pensions Board, the statutory body responsible for reporting to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the administration of the NHS Pension Scheme. My knowledge of, and enthusiasm for good pension schemes is used in oversight of the practicalities of operating Europe's largest pension scheme, covering over three million NHS employees and pensioners.

I am a member of Council and Chair of the Audit Committee at Birmingham Metropolitan College, a further education college operating in central and north Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. My involvement with BMet stems from my wish to support the provision of education for a broad variety of participants, with multiple needs and challenges, and particularly to support education as a route to work.
I am also a Guardian of the Standard of Wrought Plate in Birmingham. Guardians are the non-executive governing body of the Birmingham Assay Office, known for its work in hallmarking precious metals, including much of the lovely jewellery produced in Birmingham's historic Jewellery Quarter.

Although I work with businesses and pension schemes across the UK and internationally, I see myself as an (over)enthusiastic Midlander. My parents were both born and raised in Herefordshire and I am a regular visitor to the city, spending time with members of my large extended family. I was brought up in Derby. I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a LL.B in the early 1990s and attended Nottingham Trent University to complete my Law Society final examinations. I currently live in Sutton Coldfield, with my office base in central Birmingham and the City of London.

Away from work (and pensions) I enjoy music, dance and theatre, playing a little tennis and golf, driving fast cars at reasonable speeds, and going for walks with my husband Ian and our dog, Paddy.
Suzanne Penny

Since joining the RNC Board in early 2018, I have enjoyed learning more about our amazing college history and how young lives are being transformed by the opportunities we offer. Meeting students and staff has given me a greater insight into their challenges, resourcefulness and enterprise.

My professional career has centred on Human Resources in industry, the non-statutory sector and latterly as an NHS Director in Wales and England and Health Director in Lesotho, southern Africa.
After leaving a full-time career I have found particular satisfaction in being able to use my own varied experience to bring a wider perspective to the Board. I am very keen that RNC continues to be a good employer as well as a leading provider, as I strongly believe this ensures the very best for students.

I am chair of the Education & Training Committee as well as serving on the main Board, which has given me the opportunity to work with fellow governors and executives who always demonstrate that our students are at the heart of all we do. 
Andy Powell

After several years working as an electronics service engineer, I joined RNC in January 1996 first working in the Technical Resources Department predominately servicing and selling Mountbatten braillers.

After a couple of years, I moved into IT Technical Support and in 2009 became department manager, managing a team of technicians looking after the College’s ICT systems and providing technical support to students and staff.

In 2020 I joined the board as a staff governor where I can use my passion, experience and knowledge of RNC and supporting visually impaired students.

Lucy Proctor

After a number of years working as a recruitment consultant, I moved in to the third sector to join Severn Hospice in Shropshire. As Community Fundraising Manager I worked on a successful £5m capital appeal to build a new hospice while building strong relationships with businesses, organisations, the public and the media in order to achieve challenging revenue targets.
Having grown up in Hereford, I welcomed the opportunity to return to the city to work for an organisation I have admired all my life. My role incorporates oversight of all aspects of the charity, with a personal emphasis on income generation, communications, public affairs and development projects. I am motivated by the transformative impact RNC has on the lives of its students and trainees, and by the potential the College offers to empower people with a visual impairment across the UK and abroad.
Victoria Pugh


Having taught in early years, primary and secondary schools for 15 years, both in the UK and Europe, I moved into university teacher education at the University of Worcester. I am currently a senior lecturer in Primary, Personal, Social, Health Education (PSHE) and lead SEND, inclusion and diversity work across the Primary team.

My current doctoral study focuses on inclusive practice, social development and pupil voice, something which I am very passionate to develop and promote.
My passion for social justice and inclusion led me to join the board of governors at RNC and I am continually inspired by both the staff and students. I am currently a member of the main board and of the Education and Training Committee and it is a privilege to be part of such an empowering and innovative college.
Lisa Roberts

I have been working in FE for almost 30 years and have spent the last 12 years at RNC. I teach A Level Spanish and Extended Project and I am also lead tutor. I am the Duke of Edinburgh co-ordinator for the College.

I have joined the board as staff governor as I feel passionate about the welfare of RNC's students.
Paul Walker

Paul attended residential special schools for the vision impaired in Gorleston-on-Sea and Coventry before obtaining a degree in History with English at the University of Winchester, a Master of Science degree in Politics and Administration at Birkbeck College and a teaching qualification at Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Paul has taught history in a Luton comprehensive and spent short spells in policy work at the Teacher Training Agency in London and at Ofqual in Coventry, as well as having held a number of posts at the Department for Education (Dfe) based in Westminster and in Cambridge. He is now based in the DfE's Manchester office, where he is responsible for the legislation and guidance needed for all state-funded schools in England to be run by academy trusts. However, he works almost all his office hours from his Cambridge home.

Paul has a long-standing interest in governance, having been a chair of governors at a maintained primary school in Hailsham and having managed governance in multi-academy trusts in Ely, Streatham and Bexleyheath. He is committed to the continuing role of educational centres of expertise for the vision impaired, both in terms of ensuring their success from the inside through high standards of governance, and from the outside in valuing what they have to offer.
Jill Shechter - Clerk to the Board

I joined RNC in February 2021 and my role as Clerk to the Governors is to attend all board and committee meetings and provide the Board with effective organisational and administrative support. Prior to joining RNC, I spent seven years working with a national childhood bereavement charity and 14 years working in further and higher education. I have also been a charity trustee.

In my spare time, I enjoy volunteering at equestrian events, gardening, musical theatre and walking my Golden Retriever, Elsa.
Co-opted committee members
Ken Bush

After 17 years as an English teacher/Head of English, I became a Deputy Headteacher in a large secondary school in the maintained sector. Thereafter, I became a Headteacher in a rural comprehensive in West Gloucestershire, the only one in the area which was a Specialist Sports College.

While in this role, I trained to become an Additional Inspector with Ofsted and eventually a full-time Senior Inspector with Tribal Education. I led over 50 inspections ranging from infants to sixth form colleges to independent schools and was also responsible for QA of inspection reports.

After working as a Senior Adviser for Ofsted, I became a freelance educational consultant, working in a range of different schools in the maintained sector.
I am now a part-time School Improvement Advisor with Worcestershire County Council and a School Improvement Partner for several schools outside of Worcestershire. I specialise in advising on curriculum development, leadership and management and governance. Throughout my career, I have always regarded inclusion in its widest sense as fundamental to the effectiveness of all settings, hence my desire to support RNC as much as I can.

I live with my family in the RNC locality. I am passionate about sport as participant, erstwhile coach and spectator. I am a member of Worcestershire County Cricket Club and a self-confessed cricket-nut! I am also a very regular attender of a wide range of theatrical performances both locally and at venues such as Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Alastair Glover

Photo to follow
I have a legal background. After five years with a city firm of solicitors, I came to Hereford in 1977 as Company Secretary of Henry Wiggin & Co Ltd, now known as Special Metals Wiggin Ltd. When I left there in 2004 I spent ten years as a governor of RNC, a period of considerable challenge and change. 
Since resigning as a governor I have served as a co-opted member firstly of the Finance & Development Committee and now of the Audit & Assurance Committee.
Ben Rendle

Ben studied at RNC and was Student Governor for a year. On leaving College, he joined Dolphin Computer Access in Worcester – a firm that creates software to allow people with visual impairments and learning difficulties to gain access to computers at home, work and school. As Technical Support Advisor, he is responsible for answering customer enquiries about software issues, where appropriate remotely accessing their system to resolve problems and/or providing phone or email support. He also produces trend and KPI reports and undertakes product testing.

Ben is an Associate Governor and attends the Education & Training Committee.
Sheila Tallon

Sheila was Principal/CEO of RNC from 2011 until her retirement in 2015. During her time at the College she led a team of 190 multidisciplinary staff through a major cultural, financial and organisational change programme. She managed successful OfSTED and DWP inspections and maintained an excellent quality of provision designed to meet each student’s individual needs. Sheila also engaged with key players from government ministers through to national support bodies to help best position the college for stability and success.
Sheila previously held roles as Vice Principal of Cadbury Sixth Form College, Deputy Head Teacher at North Leamington School, and Head of Sixth Form at two other Birmingham colleges. Sheila is a Fellow of the University of Worcester.

Sheila is an Associate Governor and attends RNC’s Education & Training Committee.


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