Rob is an Old Dunelmian having attended the School (Poole House) from 1992 - 1999. After attaining an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh and a Master’s degree in Business and Finance at Durham University, Rob qualified as a Chartered Accountant in London with BDO Stoy Hayward in 2007. Rob then spent three years in the City with Deloitte within a specialist tax role before moving back to Durham at the beginning of 2010 to become a Partner at Ribchesters, Chartered Accountants in Durham and Newcastle. Ribchesters have numerous clients in the Educational sector and Rob has a wealth of experience in this area. Rob won the award of North East New Accountant of the Year in 2012. Rob holds numerous other professional positions including directorships of two North East Enterprise Agencies. Rob is also the trustee of The Henry Smiths Charity, a trustee of numerous other trusts and charitable organisations and is a member of the Durham Committee of Barnados, the Children's Charity. At the School Rob sits on the International and the Finance and General-Purpose Committees and is also a director of Durham School Trading Limited.
Geoff Hodgson OBE DL was educated at Durham School and Oxford University, where he read Geography. His early career was spent in Sales and Marketing for multi-national companies, including Procter and Gamble, Diageo and Coca-Cola International. He returned to the North East in 1994 to be Sales and Marketing Director of the Newcastle Breweries and Chief Executive of the Federation Brewery. Since 2004 Geoff has started and sold two leisure companies and acted as a non-executive director to a number of companies and bodies. He is an active investor in various local businesses. He currently serves as Chairman of The Port of Blyth, Trustack and Nigel Wright Group. In recent history he has been the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, been Chairman of the North East Tourist Board and the region's representative for the London Olympics. He was awarded an OBE in 2023. Geoff is also a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) for Tyne and Wear.
Mr Keith Ballantyne is a highly experienced human resources generalist, whose strengths include excellent communication and inter-personal skills gained in FMCG, automotive, oil and gas, and technical business service sectors.
Alongside his career as a corporate HR Director, Keith also draws on his experiences running his own consultancy business, which offers a wide range of people management related services to clients across all sectors.
A former parent at both Choristers and Durham School, Keith brings to the board a passion for new challenges and significant experience in organisational development, change management, corporate governance, employee engagement and strategic business planning.
Simon is an Old Dunelmian (1977-1982). In his final year at Durham School he was Head of School and Head of School House. After leaving school, Simon went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where he was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment. After leaving the Parachute Regiment Simon returned to the North East where he worked for a Newcastle based IFA and then worked for Arthur Andersen, until it was subsumed into Deloittes. In 1999 he joined Dickinson Dees' Private Client Department as an IFA and he has remained there ever since. The firm is now known as Womble Bond Dickinson. In his role, he advises wealthy individuals and trustees on financial matters and helps to organise their complex personal affairs. In his spare time, Simon enjoys rowing; in 2011 he was appointed Chair at Tyne Rowing Club. In the role, he oversaw the funding, construction and adoption of Tyne Amateur Rowing Club’s £1m boathouse which was then opened by the Duchess of Northumberland in 2016. This work also included, converting the club from an unincorporated association to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. He continues to compete at regattas and head races and frequently encounters Durham School pupils and staff as they represent the school at events in the community and further afield.
Chris was Head Chorister at The Chorister School and Music and Art Scholar at Durham School (1984-93). He holds an MA in English from the University of Glasgow, and a PG Dip, MMus and MOpera from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
With over 25 years in Executive Search and Leadership Development consultancy, he is the founder of Elliott Armstrong, a collective of senior headhunters, consultants and coaches, working with blue-chip & SWF clients through to start-ups across Europe and the Middle East.
A leading Birkman Certified Consultant, he helps individuals and executive teams understand how they can best achieve maximum productivity and happiness, and helps senior school and university students to make the right start in life.
Privileged to have worked around the world, he co-created the Executive Search arm of the largest Tech recruitment group in Europe, then in 2000 set up and ran the Executive Search division of Australasia’s leading dot com recruiter. There he also co-founded VC Watch, which became Australasia’s principal networking forum for Internet entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists.
Chris then joined Heidrick & Struggles, the world’s leading Executive Search Firm, where he specialised in Financial Services & Technology before becoming co-head of their UK Healthcare & Biotech Practice.
Alongside his consulting career, over 14 years Chris devised and ran children’s workshops, first for the Edinburgh International Festival, and then Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) and the Arts Learning Festival Melbourne. He also acted as advisor to the CEOs of both ISV and The Association of Independent Schools of South Australia (AISSA) on structural reform, arts-centred education and other matters.
Chris is President of the Old Dunelmian Society, the body that represents all DCSF alumni. He also enjoys a career as an operatic tenor.
Kate was born and bred in London and has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading. She moved up to Weardale, Co Durham with her husband and children in 1998. Originally Kate worked in Investor & Media relations for FTSE 100 clients and then moved to headhunting, working across many different industries, including pharmaceuticals, FMCG and finance. She is currently a director of a farming company and runs a property, holiday lettings and catering business. In addition, she is also a College Tutor at St Chad’s College, Durham University.
Alongside working, Kate has held a number of voluntary roles including working as a school governor for 20 years for three different schools, where she had responsibility for both marketing and bursaries. She also spent five years as a member of the Cathedral Council at Durham Cathedral.
Michael Hampel was born in the Lake District in 1967 and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon where he was educated at Shakespeare’s school and developed a passion for theatre and music. He read Classics at Durham and trained at Westcott House for ordination. He returned to Durham in 1993 as Assistant Curate of Whitworth with St Paul Spennymoor and then Minor Canon, Precentor and Sacrist of Durham Cathedral. In 2002, he was appointed Senior Tutor and Director of Development of St Chad’s College, Durham. He returned to the cathedral world when he became Precentor of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Suffolk in 2004, Sub-Dean in 2008, and Acting Dean in 2009. In March 2011, he was installed as Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. There, he was involved in the staging of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Service, the Opening Service of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Lady Thatcher’s Funeral Service, the Queen’s 90th birthday service, and the Grenfell Tower Memorial Service, as well as overseeing the daily round of worship, music, and special events there. He wrote the words for the anthem commissioned for the Diamond Jubilee Service – ‘The Call of Wisdom’ – set to music by Will Todd and sung by The Diamond Choir made up of children from every part of the UK, together with the Choristers of St Paul’s and of the Chapel Royal. In 2018, he returned to Durham as Vice-Dean and Precentor of Durham Cathedral where he takes a strategic role in governance and fabric as well leading the team which presents the liturgy and music of Britain’s favourite cathedral.
Having sung as a boy in Peterborough Cathedral and then as un undergraduate at St John's College, Cambridge, where he studied Classics, Richard Hillier came to Durham in 1982 to study for a PGCE (doing his teaching practice at Durham School) and then a PhD, whilst singing as a lay clerk in the cathedral, where he married Elaine in 1984. Richard taught Classics at Durham School from 1987 to 1991, when, on his appointment as Head of Classics, Richard and Elaine moved with their two young sons to Repton School, subsequently becoming Housemaster of Latham House in 1997. When not teaching Classics, housemastering, or continuing to sing on a semi-professional basis, Richard spent much of his time teaching singing or producing drama, directing a total of six plays and musicals at Durham and seventeen at Repton. In 2006 Richard was appointed Headmaster of The Oratory Preparatory School in Oxfordshire and in 2010 became Headmaster of The Yehudi Menuhin School, an independent specialist music school, supported by the Department for Education through the Music and Dance Scheme, in which capacity he also served as Chair of the Music and Dance Scheme Schools. Richard now spends much of his time engaged in academic research and is a Visiting Fellow at St John’s College in the University of Durham.
John Hind grew up in north Nottinghamshire where he attended the Manor Comprehensive School before studying History at Downing College, Cambridge. Completing his PGCE there in 1981 he spent four years at Exeter School before joining Durham School as second in the history department in 1986. Over the next eleven years he became Head of History and Director of Studies as well as coaching sport and serving in the CCF. He also completed a part time MEd degree and PhD. In 1996 he and Ginny held their wedding reception in Big School before moving to Surrey when John became Deputy Head of Kingston Grammar School. The family returned to the North East with their two young daughters when John was appointed Principal of Dame Allan’s Schools in 2004. Retiring from that post in 2020, John now works part time as Director of Education and Leadership for the Rank Foundation, a role which allows him time to serve as a trustee for a local academy trust and also to pursue his interest in campanology.
Young people, education and her native North East are Michaela's passions.
Educated at the then South Shields Grammar School for Girls and Durham University where she studied Law, Michaela's first career was as a solicitor. Married to a solicitor, she decided on a change in career after fifteen years in practice and moved into the voluntary sector. After four years with the Community Foundation serving Tyne and Wear & Northumberland as Director, Special Projects, Michaela accepted an invitation from Sunderland A.F.C. to help them establish a registered charity incorporating their education and community programmes, a pioneering model which has since been replicated by many other sporting institutions across the UK and which now operates as The Beacon of Light.
Now retired, Michaela is a North East Board Member of Maggie's Cancer Care Centres and a Trustee of St Nicholas Educational Trust.
She is married with two adult children.
Katherine has more than 20 years’ experience in a variety of corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions, sales, MBOs, private equity and venture capital transactions.
Katherine acts for clients in relation to all sizes of companies from large corporates to start-ups and everything in between. She also acts for a number of private equity houses. She regularly advises serial acquirers and private equity backed companies on acquisitions and sales particularly in the healthcare and technology sectors. In addition, Katherine has experience advising both management teams and financial institutions on management buyouts/buy ins, private equity transactions and development capital transactions.
Neil Turner is Director and Owner of Howarth Litchfield in Durham. Brought up in York and educated at Nunthorpe Grammar School, Neil undertook two degrees in Architecture at Newcastle University.
Qualifying as an Architect in 1991, he has developed HL Architects into one of the most successful practices in the region, working across the country in multiple sectors. He has further qualifications in Conservation Architecture, Design Project Management and Client Design Advice. He is also a member of the North East Design Review panel assessing the quality of applications and designs.
Neil has extensive experience in the Heritage, Commercial, industrial healthcare, education sectors and design of bespoke one-off houses. He is passionate about the work he and his practice produce. He has won multiple awards with Lord Mayors, Civic Trust, Durham Civic Society, RICS awards and RIBA awards and winner of the Telegraph house conversion of the year. He also specialises in the conservation and development of historic buildings and has overseen a number of projects, bringing old structures back to life. He has considerable design experience in schools across the state and private sectors.
A family man with two grown up sons, his interests outside of a busy career are sport, running and he is a keen artist.
Neil sits on the International, Health and Safety, Chorister committees and Project board advising the new Foundation.