Who are the Governors?

Governor Pen Portraits

This page provides more information about who your governors are and why they have chosen to be Governors.  If you are interested in knowing more about us, or about being a Governor, please contact us through our Clerk to Governors, Mrs Vicki Rutt, on clerk@sussexspires.co.uk 

Catherine Cottingham - Executive Headteacher, Ex Officio

As the Executive Headteacher of  the Sussex Spires Federation schools I probably have one of the best jobs in the world.  It is a joy to work with the children at both schools, they make me smile every day, and working with children there is always something new to learn.  I have been a governor at three different schools and fully appreciate the commitment and hard work that governors put in to their role.  Governors from different backgrounds and different experiences enrich the leadership of our school.

Tina Nay - Foundation Governor

I have spent my working life in education. Most of these years were spent as a teacher of English within secondary schools, FE, HE and adult education. I am interested in culture and believe that the arts are essential in education to develop rounded and curious individuals. 

Since having grandchildren I have become involved in primary education and have been a governor at Parklands Primary school in Eastbourne before volunteering for the Sussex Spires Federation. I sit on the General Synod as a lay member of this Church of England body and pay great attention to matters of national Christian education in addition to recognition of the pluralistic society in which we all live. At present I chair the Teaching and Learning Committee and am a member of the Ethos Group.

Nigel English - Foundation Governor and Chair of Governors 

I have an extensive experience of the UK Financial Services industry. Until 2001 I worked in the Retail Banking arm of Lloyds Bank Plc, contributing to and leading a number of change and operational initiatives at both strategic and local level. I then joined Lloyds TSB Registrars (now known as Equiniti) where I led and contributed to large change initiatives. Latterly, I worked for A J Bell Limited and was responsible for managing the company’s Tunbridge Wells Change Team, whilst continuing to manage and deliver my own suite of projects. Now retired, I enjoy walking, watching rugby, natural history, reading, listening to music, travelling, and socialising with family and friends. I am a Trustee and Treasurer of the Heathfield and District Volunteer Centre and Chair and Treasurer of the Friends of Holy Cross Care Village. As a Foundation Governor, I am part of the Ethos and Steering Groups and I have recently taken on the role of Co-Vice Chair with specific responsibility for finance.

Jenny Alder - Co-opted Governor

I became a governor in October 2016 and have an interest in developing community links.  As a governor, I am currently Co-Vice Chair have a specific responsibility for governor training and development, safeguarding, Mental Health and Wellbeing.   

I have also been a Parish Councillor since 2014 and I  am involved in Planning, Highways and the Neighbourhood Plan.   I am officially retired with two grown up sons and two granddaughters.  I enjoy crafting and working with metals especially silver and copper, beadwork, quilting, embroidery, knitting and when time allows I enjoy sailing, camping by motorbike, car and camper travelling whenever the opportunity arises.  I am as busy as I was when I worked fulltime and in all my interests! I will retire again one day.

Stuart Ritchie - Head of School at Herstmonceux and Associate Member

Pen portrait to follow...

Ailsa Clark - Head of School at ASSR and Associate Member

Originally hailing from Perthshire, Scotland, my career in education has spanned well over a decade, working in a diverse range of settings - including International Schools, Adult Education, and most significantly private and state primary teaching and leadership. I am passionate about church school leadership, and am excited to be part of the Sussex Spires federation, where we are improving childrens’ lives with the optimism, care and high quality education provided at our schools. 

VACANT - Foundation Governor

Elizabeth Ford - Foundation Governor and Vice Chair 

I am a foundation governor. As a member of Herstmonceux Free Church, I have had the pleasure of leading church assemblies at Herstmonceux C of E for some years. I have really enjoyed getting to know the children and teachers in this setting, and have been impressed by the ethos of the school, and the way they value their pupils as whole persons. As a foundation governor, I hope to support both schools in the Federation in maintaining and developing this child sensitive ethos in line with our Christian values. I am originally from South Wales, but have lived in Herstmonceux for 10 years and am really thankful for this lovely community. I have experience in charity volunteer work in Romania and with the homeless in Eastbourne. I am a partner in our family farm, and have two children, both of whom attend Herstmonceux C of E. 

VACANT - Parent Governor

Claire Boorer - Staff Governor 

I have worked as a teacher in both primary and secondary schools since 2001. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the different ages I have taught throughout my career. I am settling into life in a small church school after a long stint at a large secondary comprehensive in Eastbourne, where I had a special responsibility for SEND as well as teaching English to KS3.  I spent the vast majority of my adult life in Eastbourne but have recently moved to a small village closer to ASSR. I have two grown up children, one who still lives  in Eastbourne and the other is currently living in Brighton.  When I'm not working, I try to run regularly to make up for the cake baking I also enjoy doing!

Joel Cottingham - Parent Governor

My wife and I have 5 children, three of whom attend Herstmonceux CofE Primary School.  I have worked with children and young people in many different capacities but most recently have been working as a trainer / assessor supporting teams working in residential childcare developing safeguarding, behaviour management, first-aid and risk assessment with the staff. Since moving to Herstmonceux in 2019 we have been thrilled to have found such a fantastic community for us and our children to be a part of. Being a parent governor is one way I hope to enhance village life for children in the local schools, but I also enjoy helping coach at Herstmonceux cricket club in the juniors’ section now that my son has started playing. Aside from work and sports, I enjoy being outside and, having grown-up on a dairy farm, have been working on transforming our back garden into my own miniature smallholding with the addition of a vegetable garden, chicken coop and rabbits, though I am told that I am not allowed any more livestock! It is my firm belief that children should have every opportunity to be the best version of themselves and that we as parents, teachers and adults in their lives should model empathy, care and curiosity for them whenever we are given the privilege. 

Mark Atkinson - LA Governor 


Mark Atkinson is a Co-opted Governor. A retired Business Consultant, Mark has lived in the Heathfield area most of his life. His children attended Broad Oak Primary School (where he was Chair of Governors) and then Heathfield Community College, so Mark has close ties to the local community. Mark has a keen interest in supporting local causes and has volunteered for several charities: Age UK, Age Concern and The Citizens Advice Bureau.  Mark now hopes to bring his support and experience to the Sussex Spires Federated schools to assist them in delivering excellence and fun in education. 

Barnaby Sanders - Co-Opted Governor

Pen portrait to follow...