Mark Hopton FCA
Mark was appointed Chairman of Governors in January 2011. Mark also chairs the Strategy, Finance & Premises Committee. He is an Old Silhillian (Shenstone) who left the school in 1973. Mark had a 40 year career with leading global professional services firm, KPMG, where he was Chairman and Senior Partner of the Midlands Practice until 2007, and then held leadership responsibilities in the EMEA Region until his retirement in 2012. Mark is also Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Birmingham City University and Chairman of Trustees of Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust. Mark’s principal interests are playing golf, as a life long member of Olton Golf Club, and watching rugby.
Damian Kelly BA
Damian was appointed a Governor in 2011 and Vice Chairman in 2021. He chairs the Human Resources Committee and is a member of the Strategy, Finance & Premises Committee. He is an Old Silhillian (Windsor) who attended school between 1981 and 1988. Damian is a Partner at the award winning law firm, Higgs & Sons, specialising in employment law. He has extensive experience of a wide variety of HR matters and works closely with the firm’s Business Development team to attract new business of all kinds. Damian is a member of Copt Heath Golf Club and is a life-long supporter of Birmingham City Football Club. His other interests include music and real ale.
James is passionate about using technology to positively affect communication. He founded a company in 2012, working with organisations to identify and communicate key messages and ideas. James believes in an iterative approach based around listening and learning before thinking and applying. His approach has grown the company from an idea that came from school, through to a startup based in Warwick, to a studio employing 12 people working out of Birmingham. James was appointed to the Board of Governors in 2017. He is an Old Silhillian (Jago, 1999-2010).
Dr Andrew BurtenshaW
Andy was appointed as a Governor in 2017 and has four years of prior experience as a Governor at a local school in the state sector. As a hospital consultant specialising in Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthesia he has almost 20 years of experience in the NHS. He has additional professional interests in post-graduate education (including speciality recruitment and high-fidelity simulation training), clinical research and patient safety and is passionate about continually redeveloping the processes through which patients are managed to create consistently safer and more effective care. Andy is married with two children (both at Solihull) and has recently been enjoying introducing them to his lifetime interest in sailing.
fenella de minckwitz
Fenella became a Governor of Solihull following completion of the merger in January 2020, having previously served as a Governor of Saint Martin’s School since 2011. Fenella is a member of the Human Resources Committee and also the Marketing Forum. Fenella herself attended Saint Martin’s from 3-18 and has had a long family association with the School. Fenella's passion for food resulted in her studying at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School before pursuing this professionally. She spent time living in Germany with her husband, who was a serving Army Officer. Fenella returned to solihull and started her own catering business and four years later acquired another local catering business leading to the provision of event management and catering services locally for the past 20 years. Both Fenella's sons attended Solihull and she was President of the Parents' Association in 2003. Fenella is passionate about balancing a child's academic and practical abilities in a secure learning environment. She enjoys swimming and gardening in her spare time.
HELEN ELLIS BA PGCE
Helen became a Governor of Solihull following completion of the merger in January 2020, having previously served as a Governor of Saint Martin’s School since 2015. Helen is a member of the Education Committee. Helen has had two careers - firstly in senior management in the NHS, running major teaching hospitals in Oxford, London and Birmingham, and secondly as Head of Economics & Business Studies at Stratford Girls' Grammar School where she was also Assistant Head of Sixth Form. Helen has strong historical links with Solihull. She has two sons who were both J1 Troopers at Solihull, the elder becoming Deputy Head Boy and the younger Head Boy. She was the first ever female President of the Parents' Association and was, until recently, a Trustee of the SSPA Trust Fund. Helen is also a Trustee and Treasurer of the Solihull Children’s Special Needs Association, a Trustee of the Birmingham Boys & Girls Union, which runs Woodlands Adventure, and a Trustee of Jobs Close in Knowle. Most of her spare time is spent on the family farm in the Brecon Beacons and her other passion is watching Wales play rugby.
Heather Gay BSc PhD
Heather retired in August 2014 after 20 years in teaching, latterly as Deputy Head Academic of Edgbaston High School, 12 years as a Lexicographer for Longman Dictionaries and 6 years in scientific research at Imperial College, London. She has a degree in Zoology and a PhD focusing on sheep. Heather was appointed to the Board of Governors in 2015 and is a member of the Education Committee. Heather is married with two children; Rebecca, who works for Google, and Alex, who is a Captain in the Army and a former Head Boy of the school. Her interests are choral singing and crosswords.
Cathy Gilbert BA Hons MBA
Cathy re-joined the Board in November 2017. She brings a wealth of experience in new market developments, marketing and PR with a particular interest in developing personalised marketing through digital media. She is currently Director of External Relations at the University of Birmingham where she holds a leadership role with 300 staff responsible for UK and international student recruitment and admissions in addition to a global marketing remit and has most recently overseen the university’s new campus development project in Dubai. She has an Economics degree, and an MBA from Warwick. Before joining the University of Birmingham she was a Board member at UCAS and has also held senior positions in BUPA and was non-executive director of Solihull Health Authority. Cathy has two children and keeps chickens and bees.
Ian was appointed as a governor in January 2020. Having been a pupil at Warwick School, he joined the police aged 19 and worked within West Midlands Police. He has 21 years policing experience across a number of areas including child safeguarding and investigations (covering both Solihull and Coventry for three years) and local policing, where he is currently responsible for policing within Birmingham and working with senior partners and educational establishments. Whilst in work Ian completed a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Management with Warwick University and has previous governor experience as a parent and safeguarding governor at a local primary school where he served for four years. Ian is married with two children (one at Solihull) and enjoys running, watching rugby (having hung his boots up some time ago) and family time, which includes walking his two dogs.
Judith Hetherington FCA BCom
Judith was appointed as a Governor in 2017. She is a member of the property and investment sub committees. Judith is a partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP specialising in the provision of pension audit and assurance services. She is responsible for graduate and non-graduate recruitment for the firm and oversees the audit trainees training and development programme. Judith’s son attended Solihull. Her interests are holidays and reading.
DR sue houghton mb bs mrcs lrcp
Sue became a Governor of Solihull following completion of the merger in January 2020, having previously served as a Governor of Saint Martin’s School since 2018. Sue has taken a keen interest in the pastoral and spiritual life of Saint Martin’s, including the initiation of a prayer and faith space. Sue is a member of the Human Resources Committee. Since moving to Knowle with her family 25 years ago, Sue has been a GP in a respected local practice. Sue has three adult children who, in their time, attended either Solihull or Saint Martin’s and who now themselves teach in both the independent and maintained sectors in other areas of the country. Sue has also been active in the community through involvement with youth work and mentoring at Knowle Parish Church. Sue enjoys tennis at Knowle & Dorridge Racquets Club as well as other local sports interests.
Anne Lavery LLB
Anne was appointed as a Governor in 2014. She sits on the Human Resources Committee as well as the Development Committee which supports the school’s alumni relations strategy. Anne’s children have both been educated at Solihull. Anne was a practising solicitor until 2005. She chaired the SSPA in 2010/11, is heavily involved in fundraising for the Marie Curie Hospice, West Midlands, and is also a member of its Development Board. Anne likes to keep fit, mainly through dog walking and cycling.
Carol MCnidder bsC
Carol became a Governor of Solihull following completion of the merger in January 2020, having previously served as a Governor of Saint Martin’s School since 2013 and its Chair of Governors since 2015. Carol is a member of the Strategy, Finance & Premises Committee. Carol is a Pharmacist Manager in an independent Community Pharmacy and sits on several local professional representative committees. Carol is the widow of an Old Silhillian and has two sons who both attended Solihull during which time her late husband was President of the Parents' Association in 1999 and 2003. Carol is also a Trustee of Elizabeth House care home in Solihull. In her spare time she enjoys reading, theatre, travel and watching rugby.
Michael Morris LLB
Michael was appointed as a Governor in 2006. He is a member of the Strategy, Finance and Premises Committee and is the Governor overseeing Health and Safety. Michael is the parent of three boys and one girl, all of whom attended Solihull, and currently has a grandson in the Senior School and a granddaughter in the Preparatory School. He was President of the Parents’ Association in 1990 and 1993. Michael was a Partner in a firm of Solicitors in Birmingham until 2002, and a District Judge from 2002 to 2016. He is involved in a number of charitable organisations.
Paul Newby FRICS MCIArb
Paul was appointed to the Board of Governors in 2013. He is Chairman of the Endowment Property Sub Committee and is also a member of the Building Sub Committee and Share Investment Sub Committee. Paul attended Solihull between 1969 and 1977 (Shenstone). Paul is a Chartered Surveyor and Company Director working in private practice and is an arbitrator, independent expert and accredited mediator in his specialist market sector. Paul is married and lives in Knowle and has three children, Rebecca, Hannah and Joshua (all former Solihull pupils). Paul’s interests are sailing, golf, rugby and music.
IAN RALPH BCS ACA
Ian became a Governor of Solihull following completion of the merger in January 2020, having previously served as a Governor of Saint Martin’s School since 2015 including as Vice Chair. Ian is a member of the Strategy, Finance & Premises Committee and will also sit on its sub committees which oversee the School's Endowment Funds and Properties. After University, Ian joined PricewaterhouseCoopers practising as a Chartered Accountant for over 30 years. Ian was a taxation specialist who worked from the firm's Liverpool, St. Albans and Birmingham offices. Ian also worked for three years as UK Taxation Manager for a UK listed company. Ian has a son who attended Solihull (leaving in 2007) and a daughter who attended Saint Martin’s (leaving in 2002). Ian likes walking and watching Liverpool Football Club.
Prof Swaran Singh MBBS MD MRCPsych BM
Swaran was appointed as a Governor in 2016. Born in India, he originally trained as a surgeon in New Delhi before moving to psychiatry following his work with children traumatised in ethnic conflict. He moved to the UK in 1991 and has been involved in a number of major mental health reforms, notably the ETHOS early intervention in psychosis services for young people. He is currently head of the Mental Health and Wellbeing division at the University of Warwick Medical School and also a Commissioner for the Equality & Human Rights Commission. When he finds the time, he enjoys literature, poetry, theatre, cricket and fishing. Swaran two children, both at Solihull.
John Shackleton MA
John is Chairman of the Education Committee. After 13 years as a pupil at Stockport Grammar School and four years at university, John taught in the independent sector until his retirement in 2012. He has taught in both senior and preparatory schools (day and boarding), the last 20 years as Headmaster in 4 preparatory schools: Royal Grammar in Newcastle upon Tyne, Fettes in Edinburgh, King Henry VIII in Coventry and finally Hallfield in Edgbaston. John is Chairman of Governors of his local village school and a Governor in two further independent schools. He is a serving ISI inspector, a mentor for new prep. school heads (IAPS) and an appraiser of prep. school heads. He is a double sporting international from the 70s and 80s (athletics and lacrosse) and in retirement has reverted to several outdoor activities including cycling, golf, walking the South West coastal path, Munro climbing and travelling. John is married with two children and four grandchildren.
GILL TILLMAN BSC
Gill became a Governor of Solihull following completion of the merger in January 2020. having previously served as a Governor of Saint Martin’s School since 2014. Gill is a member of the Education Committee. She retains a responsibility as Designated Safeguarding Governor for Saint Martin’s for the 2019/20 academic year. Gill is also the representative director on the joint venture board of Daycare at Saint Martin’s. Gill is a pharmacist in Warwick. She is highly involved with MacMillan Cancer Support, both in terms of fundraising and in their education department. She also acts as a mentor to newly qualified pharmacists. Gill has two daughters, one of whom attended Solihull's Sixth Form. Her Husband, Roger, is an Orthopaedic Surgeon in Birmingham. In her spare time Gill enjoys cooking, walking and sailing.
The Chairman of Governors' contact address is:
c/o The Clerk to the Governors
793 Warwick Road
Solihull B91 3DJ
Telephone: 0121 705 0883