Meet the Governors

trustee_vinceMr V Flower
Chair of Governors

Born and educated in Torquay, I have been fortunate enough to maintain strong roots in the area throughout my life. I retired, after a long career with Shearings Group Ltd, in October 2018 after 40 happy, productive and successful years with the business and in the leisure and tourism industry. My former role at SGL was Managing Director of Shearings Hotels Ltd, who used to own and operate 45 hotels in the UK. I served on the main Shearings Group Board for many years dealing with all the hotel and property matters. I was also the lead Director for Health & Safety and Sustainable Tourism across the Shearings Group.
In addition to my role within Shearings, I have the honour and privilege to be the current Chair of Governors at Torquay Academy, formerly known as Torquay Community College and Audley Park School. I was educated at Audley Park in the 1970s and have a very long and proud connection with the school. Prior to becoming a Governor at Torquay Academy, I served for over ten years on the Governing Body of South Devon College in the capacities of Vice Chair and Chair. I also Chair the Board of the Torquay Economic Development Company (TDA).
In 2020 I was appointed as the Chair of Young Devon, a charity which has looked after young people across the county for over 70 years. In February 2020 I was appointed as the Chair of the Torquay Town Deal Board, which has recently secured in excess of £22 million towards the regeneration of Torquay town centre. At the end of 2020 I was also appointed as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Heart of the South West LEP. Since being appointed I have become Chair of the Skills Advisory Panel, for the Heart of the South West LEP.
At the start of 2021, I became the Chair of Visit Devon, a leading destination management organisation representing over 600 businesses from the visitor economy across the county. I am still working hard, listening, learning, evolving and developing my skills to try and make a difference to the community and organisations that I serve.

Leo Critchlow Photo B&WMrs L Critchlow
Vice Chair

Born and educated locally at Cockington Primary and Audley Park School followed by a Foundation course at SDTC Art school and some years later distance learning at Hereford College for various Hotel and Catering courses.
Currently Vice Chair of Torquay Academy Governing Body and Chair of the HR and Safeguarding committee taking a special interest in Safeguarding and looked after children.
From 1999 I was employed as a Project Officer by Devon County Council representing the client, working in the Built Environment team. My work was directly associated with the delivery of major capital school projects including new primary, special schools and the new Cranbrook community school provision in East Devon. I worked with school stakeholders, local authorities, technical design and construction team members. Prior to this I was employed within the catering service for schools, covering the whole of Devon.
I am also a governor on the Torbay’s Virtual School Governing Body that scrutinises in detail the education provision and outcomes for children who are looked after. Passionate about the importance of the highest quality of education in the growth and development of all our young people and preparing them for the challenges the future will bring.

Cheryl SmithMrs C Baxter

I moved to Devon to undertake my law degree at Exeter University over 20 years ago and fell in love with the South West. I am now a Partner, leading the Commercial Property team at Boyce Hatton LLP as well as taking on the responsibility of Training for the firm. I am also one of the founding members of Boyce Hatton’s Women in Torquay and Totnes (WITT) networking group promoting local women and their business interests.

As a mother of 3 boys, all of whom either have attended and still attend Torquay Academy, I am committed to supporting the school’s vision of excellence and passionate about creating real opportunities for our local children.

In my spare time I am a local Scout Leader and enjoy teaching the scouts to sail during the summer months making the most of our beautiful environment.

Robin CausleyMr R Causley

Educated at primary and secondary schools in the South Hams and Torbay, followed by Foundation and Degree courses at Ruskin College, Oxford and the University of Sheffield. I became a Parent governor in 2013 am now a Community Governor and member of the HR and Safeguarding Committee. I have worked in the voluntary and community sector for over 30 years; formerly Chief Executive Of Age Concern Torbay, I’m now Community Funding Advisor at Torbay Community Development Trust, Vice-Chair of Torquay United Supporters Trust and am also trustee of a small, local men’s health charity. I’m a member of The Chartered Institute of Fundraising and a Fellow of the Dartington School for Social Entrepreneurs. I fully support the creation and development of the Multi-Academy Trust and believe every student at Torbay Academy has gifts and talents that need to be recognised and developed. Torquay Academy is now an impressive environment and distinctive place of learning, and as a governor my aim is to help maximise the opportunities the Academy provides for both students and the wider community.

Dave Graham

Mr D Graham

Originally from the South West, I moved around the UK as a child before settling, and then completing a Mechanical Engineering Degree, in Aberdeen. I subsequently took a commission in the Royal Navy, specialising as a Nuclear Propulsion Engineering Officer, passing out of Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1988. This followed a very rewarding 26-year career in the Service with appointments in 3 ships, 4 submarines and numerous shore-based roles around the UK, including at the Navy’s Headquarters, the Ministry of Defence, the centre for equipment procurement and the Navy’s submarine base in Scotland, as Head of all Engineering delivery on-site to achieve readiness for Defence Outputs.

As part of the above, we returned to the South West in 2007 upon appointment to the Naval College in Dartmouth as the second-in-command and following that role have cemented our roots in Torquay, where my wife is originally from, with our eldest attending Torquay Academy.

Today, I am the Managing Director of a medium sized engineering consultancy providing critical support to the Defence and Civil Nuclear sectors and I am passionate about enabling access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related undergraduate and apprenticeship opportunities to all.

George Grute

Mr G Grute

Firstly I would like to say how delighted I am to be offered the opportunity as a Parent Governor at Torquay Academy.  I am a semi-retired business manager and work for two shortened days with the local NHS Trust in Commercial Development. I have significant experience in both adult social care as a proprietor of a residential home and in children’s services as a director of an independent foster agency. Therefore I am no stranger to working with public authorities.

I became a governor as I am passionate about helping young people achieve their potential by receiving a world class education. I am here to work as part of a team of governors to ensure youngsters have the best opportunities to succeed whilst growing into responsible and caring individuals.

My personal beliefs on how this is best achieved have such close synergy with Torquay Academy’s beliefs that I know I will enjoy working with the children, staff and families within the school community.

Mrs C Holloway

I have lived in Torquay for most of my life.

I have spent many years working across schools and between schools and the local authority and now work as a Social worker locally.

I have a great interest in children achieving their fullest potential, and in the power of an excellent education, views which align well to the values and ethos of Torquay Academy.

I have some experience as a Governor in a primary school, however I am also aware I have lots to learn and am looking forward to both this challenge, and contributing in the role as parent Governor.

Jo Large
Miss J Cornish

My parents were both Torquay born and bred so, although I was born in Manchester it was not long before they returned to Devon. The furthest I moved away since then was Exeter, where I obtained my degree and trained to teach between 1990-1994.

I was a teacher in various schools in Torbay and Devon for 24 years, from September 1994 – August 2018. I taught in secondary, primary, mainstream and specialist settings.

I left teaching to take on a role with Devon Local Authority as a Local Education Officer with the SEND 0-25 team. I am the caseworker for many young people with an EHCP.

I am passionate about ensuring the most vulnerable young people in our society do not miss out on opportunities available and are supported in the most appropriate and effective ways.

Miss V Jelbert

After graduating with a BA in English Literature and Language from The University of Liverpool, I experienced diverse roles in a variety of industries and locations, before following the Teach First pathway into the secondary classroom. This indirect route to teaching has provided me with invaluable real-world life experience and has made me a dynamic, passionate and authentic practitioner.

I completed my NQT year at Northampton International Academy, which had a diverse cohort from a wide range of nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. This revealed to me the rewards of raising the aspirations and self-esteem of disadvantaged children. I also used my strong interpersonal skills, empathy and patience, to build relationships, manage difficult behaviour and encourage pupils to maintain consistent academic progress. I joined Torquay Academy 2 years ago, and I am grateful to have found a school community which aligns with my teaching values.

I have also volunteered as a CFAV Sergeant Instructor in the School’s Army Cadet force. I enjoy this role because it allows me to experience non-classroom teaching, share my love of the great outdoors with young people and develop their adventure training skills.

Ian WestwoodMr I Westwood

I was born In Torquay and educated at the Boys Grammar School. I have worked in local government for over 25 years in customer service and finance.
I was a foundation governor at Torre Church of England Academy until 2016 as well as holding the role of parent governor at Torquay Academy since May 2015.

With two children at the school, I take a keen interest in how the academy is responding to the new challenges that all young people face in our ever changing world.

Mr K Nicholson

I moved to the South West in 2007 to play professional Football with the recently relegated Torquay United.

My then girlfriend came with me and over the last 17 years we were married, had 3 kids, 2 of which attend TA, I’ve experienced great highs professionally in promotion with Torquay United along with some tough times including relegation as a player and the end of my playing career.

I was privileged to play 350 games for a special Football Club and after 7 years as a player I became manager and was a part of the back to back “Great Escapes” to stay in the National League, against many odds.

For the past 4 and a half years I have been Head of Coaching & Player Development at Exeter City FC (3 years), U18 Lead Coach (3 months) and now Assistant Manager (15 months and counting).

As Head of Coaching I was a part of the Elite Head of Coaching course which is funded and run by the Premier League. This course was a Post Graduate Diploma learning about how human beings learn, how we think, how we vary and how there are so many layers to us that if nurtured, mentored and coached can allow great growth, development and accomplishments as individuals and teams.

This is what I hope to bring to my role as Governor, to pass on this learning and hunger to improve.

It has been at the heart of everything I strived for in Football and I want to show that these skills are transferable and valuable to young men and women trying to navigate their way through education and the early stages of their own lives.

At TUFC I worked hard to be transparent and open to help as many people in the local community as possible.

At Exeter City FC I continue to try and bring value wherever possible to community based projects that the Football Club has an amazing ethos and work ethic to plan, facilitate and develop each and every week in the South West.

I genuinely look forward to seeing how I can help as Governor at TA, get a greater understanding of the school’s goals and aspirations internally and externally within the wider community.

Mrs H Jeffreys
Clerk to Governors

Having been born and educated in the North of England, I spent most of my working life in the banking industry before taking a career break to move to Torbay in 2011. I have experience of governance having served for 5 years as a Chair of Governors at a Church of England Primary School in Torbay. I became Clerk to Governors at Torquay Academy in November 2014, and in June 2018, I also took on the role as Clerk to Trustees for Torquay Boys’ Grammar School Multi Academy Trust. I am married with two children and live in Churston Ferrers. In my spare time, I like to play golf and I am a member of Churston Golf Club.