Ian Hick – Chair of Local Advisory Board

Ian has an Engineering degree and is a qualified Chartered Accountant, working in London for accounting firm Ernst & Young for 11 years on clients such as British Airways. Ian joined Sellafield in 1995 when it was part of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL). He worked on the Finance side of the business for 22 years, from dealing with monthly management accounting through to being Chief Accountant, responsible for the statutory financial reporting of the business. Along the way he project managed a major Finance and Procurement system implementation, and was on the project board of the subsequent implementation of HR functionality.
Since 2017 Ian has had the role of Business Relationship Manager within the Sellafield Information Communications Technology (ICT) function.
Sellafield has a strong interest in supporting the education of the potential future workforce in West Cumbria.

Whilst Ian’s background is not in Education, he believes he can bring directly relevant skills and experience to the Local Advisory Board. He has experience of working with Government departments over many years. Sellafield operates in a highly regulated environment with a strong focus on health and safety, and his understanding of these governance disciplines will help frame his approach to the activity of the Local Advisory Board.

Stephen Wilkinson – Vice Chair

Stephen is CEO of The Queen Katherine School Multi Academy Trust and has responsibility through the MAT Board and Governors of MAT schools for the success of The Queen Katherine School, Walney School and George Hastwell School. He also heads up the MAT Management Team which provide back office services to the schools and others.

Stephen is Appointed Governor of the Local Governing Body of George Hastwell School, The Queen Katherine School, Walney School, the Pupil Referral Unit in Barrow and the Virtual Headteacher Board for Looked after Children.

He is also Senior Lead for the North West Maths Hub and Local Organiser for the Association of School and College Leaders in Cumbria

Formerly, Stephen was Headteacher of two schools between 1995 and 2013, most recently of The Queen Katherine School. Until April 2017 he was seconded to the post of Chair of Local Alliance of System Leaders (LASL) in the south of Cumbria and the Board of the Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders (CASL). He was until recently the voluntary Chair of the Cumbria Partnership for Emotional Resilience and Mental Health.

Stephen’s three children attended The Queen Katherine School and his wife taught at Sandgate Special School until her well-earned retirement.

In his spare time, he is a keen photographer, wildlife admirer, hill walker, glider pilot and official family dog walker.

Chris Sutcliffe – Lead Director

Chris was born and raised in Lancashire, just north of Manchester. He was educated at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School before attending Keele University, where he gained a joint honours degree in Maths and Physics. He has been married to Jo for 25 years, and lives near Cockermouth in the barn they bought and converted together.

Chris has a long history of learning and development, mostly in the education sector, but more recently in private industry. Starting his working life as a teacher, he went on to lead several innovative projects for the local authority, before becoming a School Improvement Officer with responsibility for IT. He then progressed to a national role helping the Government roll out the National Strategies. After a time as an independent consultant, he now works in industry where he has recently undertaken an MA in Strategic Development.

He is passionate to see children and young people achieve their potential and gain the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Chris is keen to share this knowledge and experience to help shape the CET academies to provide exciting and relevant curriculums, delivered by dedicated and motivated teachers, giving pupils every chance of achieving success and exceeding their ambitions.

After spending time on the Workington Academy Local Advisory Board, Chris became a CET Board Director in June 2017.

Lorrayne Hughes – CEO

Lorrayne is the Chief Executive Officer of Cumbria Education Trust, the county’s largest multi-academy school trust.

Lorrayne took up her first Headship at William Howard School in Brampton in 2007 and in 2014 was commissioned by the Local Authority to bring about rapid improvement in two special measures schools in Workington. One of the schools was removed from Special Measures within 20 weeks.

She has led CET since inception to its current position where it is responsible for the education of more than 4,000 children across three secondary schools, eight primaries and West Coast Sixth Form.

Lorrayne passionately believes in inclusion and that all young people deserve a high-quality education. Children are firmly at the heart of all her strategic decision-making.
All schools work closely together following Lorrayne’s lead that collaboration can make a difference to all involved, from pupils and students to staff and their communities.

Lorrayne is a board member of the Confederation of School Trusts, the sector body for school trusts.

Nigel Youngman – Headteacher

Nigel grew up in King’s Lynn and spent his school days in the west of the county. He went on to Bristol University to read English and French Literature and then chose to spend time teaching in Pakistan. He returned to the UK to complete his PGCE at Nottingham University before teaching in Birmingham and Bristol.


A Head of English department role saw Nigel returning to his Norfolk roots, where he spent 7 years at Thorpe St Andrew High School. He then moved to be Deputy Headteacher at Alderman Peel High School before becoming Vice Principal at City Academy Norwich. He became Headteacher at Beccles Free School from the Open Academy where he was Director of Sixth Form and Director of Strategic ICT. Nigel now joins Cumbria Education Trust as the Headteacher of The Whitehaven Academy.


Nigel is married and has two children; and the whole family are very much relishing the opportunity of living and working in the Western Lakes.

Steve Jennings – Parent LAB member

Steve was born and bred in Cumbria and enjoys the rural life it has to offer. He went to school in Wigton, but since the age of 18, has lived most of his life in Whitehaven. Steve is married with 3 children. He has a son and daughter at Whitehaven Academy and an elder daughter, who is an ex-student of the Academy.

Steve has worked in the Nuclear industry for over 30 years, where he has held several senior positions in Engineering, Project Management and IT. He is a Chartered Engineer and Registered Project Professional. Steve is an individual who expects high standards of himself and has an ability to instil trust in people around him. He is naturally collaborative and believes in sharing ideas and good practice.

Steve passionately believes that all young people should be given the best possible education, to gain the skills they need, to achieve their full potential. He also believes that a good education should be available from their local school and that students should not have to travel miles to a good school.

He is keen to see a varied curriculum and strong 6th form that provides a good academic education alongside opportunities in the arts, technology and sport. He is also keen that Whitehaven Academy, under CET, builds on its primary school and community links and once again becomes a school of choice for the young people of Whitehaven.

As a member of the Interim management Committee (AMC), he saw first-hand the drive, dedication, hard work and passion from all the teaching staff to provide a good education in a caring, supportive environment despite the obvious challenges they faced. Steve would like to see CET harness that energy and ambition and direct it to making Whitehaven Academy a success in the future. Steve would like to play a part in assisting staff and CET to deliver that vision.

Judy Davidson, LAB member, Safeguarding member

Judy originates from South Yorkshire and was educated at Doncaster High School for Girls. After teacher training in Birmingham, Judy’s first teaching role was at Doncaster Grammar School.

Judy moved to West Cumbria in 1979 where she taught at both Whitehaven and Cockermouth Grammar Schools prior to holding both academic and pastoral positions at Whitehaven School until her retirement in 2011. Subsequently, she became both a teacher and then, a community governor at the school.

In addition to teaching, Judy in the 1990s trained with Relate and became a counsellor for them in the local area.

Now that she has retired from teaching Judy is part-owner of a local counselling centre. Some years ago she trained to be a family consultant and continues now to use her experience and skills to help people suffering from family conflict or relationship difficulties.

Judy is passionate about building a better future for the people of the local area and, as a member of the Whitehaven Academy LAB, is committed to providing the best possible education for its students.

Outside of work Judy enjoyed a number of sporting activities and at one time was Cumbria tennis captain. Today, she can often be found on the golf course.

Julie Pennington, LAB member

Born in Whitehaven, Julie has qualifications in Business & Management & Psychology. A NEBOSH qualified Health & Safety Practitioner, Julie is also a ROSPA qualified Instructor & Assessor.

Following 2 years in the Chemical Industry, Julie spent 23 years in the Nuclear Sector. Predominantly based at Sellafield, she also provided consultation, training & development to Nuclear Sites throughout the UK.

Her career began as a Personal Assistant. When British Nuclear Fuels introduced a new financial accountability system, Julie became a Cost-Engineer & took on the reporting of multi-million pound projects. She developed a knack of training others in the process & was approached to join the Safety Management Team.

Following catastrophic accidents, including Chernobyl, a global shift in attitude to safety & risk management came about & requirement for cultural change was recognised. Being interested in Behavioural Psychology, Julie joined a Culture Change implementation group that focused on management & improvement of safety standards. She became Behavioural Lead Trainer for UK Nuclear Sites & an Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) Lead Trainer at Sellafield.

Taking on responsibility for strategic planning, implementation & development of safety recommendations required by regulators, she became Culture Change Manager. The diverse role required an in-depth understanding of the Health & Safety at Work Act combined with extensive knowledge of Site Operations & collaboration with Psychologists & Human Factors experts. The aim being to maximise safety & reliability of nuclear power plants worldwide, with emphasis on behavioural change.

It’s her knowledge of government legislation, safety & risk management, plus an extensive background in training, mentoring & development of others that Julie hopes will assist in the continued progress of The Whitehaven Academy & its fantastic students. She’s delighted to join the Local Advisory Board.

A lover of music, gardening, photography, yoga & skiing, she prefers being outdoors climbing the fells. Julie is married & her daughter is a student at the Academy

In a voluntary role, Julie is Secretary to a local NHS Surgery development team.

Nigel Woodcock, LAB member

Nigel grew up in Derbyshire and read Politics & Economics at Queen Mary, University of London before studying at the London Business School and JF Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Subsequently, he was awarded a MBA in public policy & governance from Warwick University Business School.

He has over 30 years Board level experience of working in Cumbria in the NHS, education, social enterprise and charity sectors. Within the NHS this has included being Chief Executive of: West Cumbria Healthcare NHS Trust , North Lakeland Healthcare NHS Trust, North Cumbria Mental Health & Learning Disabilities NHS Trust and Joint Chief Executive of the West Cumbria, Carlisle & District and Eden Valley Primary Care Trusts.

As a Non Executive Director he is currently Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel at Carlisle City Council , Vice Chair at Carlisle FE College and a Trustee at the Oaklea Trust, Right2Work CIC and Cumbria Cerebral Palsy Society. Previously, he was Independent Member and Chair of the Standards Committee at Copeland Borough Council.

In addition, he was chair of Accelerate CIC an award winning health care social enterprise in London and Lay Member on the Individual Funding Panel at NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group.

Within education he has been a Parent Governor, Governor and Chair of the Audit Committee at St. Martin’s College (Lancaster & Ambleside) and Governor at the West Lakes College, Lillyhall. He passionately believes that all young people should have the opportunity of accessing an excellent education to enable them to realise their full potential and make a positive contribution to their local community and wider society.

Will Hatton, Parent LAB member

Will was born and bred in Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, and attended the local comprehensive school before attaining a BSc in Management Science & Computer Science at Keele University.  After graduation, he moved to Warrington and started working for BNFL as a software developer before moving to West Cumbria in 1999 to take up an IT role on the Sellafield site.

Will has acquired a range of valuable skills and experience from his 17 years of working for both BNFL and Computer Sciences Corporation.  He has held roles in software development, project management, change management and problem management, and has a strong work ethic, high standards and a healthy dose of pragmatism.

Following voluntary redundancy, Will dedicated himself to caring for his family whilst also studying to attain a qualification as an AAT Level 4 Bookkeeper.  He is passionate about learning, believing it to be a life-long venture, and wishes to pass this enthusiasm for education onto his two children.

Will believes in the best possible education, coupled with the best possible educational experience.  His aim is to give all children cherished memories of their time at Whitehaven Academy and to help them develop into well-rounded adults.  Consequently, Will believes strongly in children learning both practical life skills and obtaining academic qualifications.

In his spare time, Will enjoys reading, drawing, photography, gardening, relaxing with his family and is a keen motorsport fan.

LAB members in the previous 12 months:

  • Andy Keep – 17/07/20
  • Emma Williamson – 18/06/2021

To view the Meeting Attendance Records and Registers of Interest for the The Whitehaven Academy Local Advisory Board click the button below.