When I first became Leader of the Council, the late and irreplaceable James Hehir - CEO of Ipswich Borough Council - said to me: “You have to become a governor of Suffolk New College”; and so my journey of being involved in education in Ipswich began.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that my education was cut short, when my father was moved from Warwickshire to become manager of the Claydon Cement Works. I was 14 going on 15, and instead of continuing my education I was sent to Miss Holmes Secretarial College and then straight out to work. So to then become a Corporate Member of the College, where I studied in the evenings, was more than a great honour.
Having been involved with the College for many years, I have seen many changes from top to bottom: from the old building, to the wonderful new premises we now inhabit. I have chaired the Audit and Risk Committee for several years and although my time at the College is coming to an end, I have enjoyed and learnt so much and feel very proud of its achievements.
I am also a governor at Parkside, which is a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) dealing with children who are unable to cope with mainstream education. They come to Parkside for the wonderful education, help, care and love they are given. My involvement over the years has seen us become a Multi Academy Trust - known as the Raedwald Trust - which takes in all the PRUs in Ipswich and, although in its infancy, is very exciting.
I was asked to join the Foundation Trust at Ipswich School, to help raise funds enabling bursaries for less privileged children to be educated at this wonderful school and all the opportunities it offers. It isn’t easy for a student to do this or for the parents to agree, but we have seen some remarkable success stories.
Finally, I am very proud to have been asked to become Patron of Student Life and to help this new and important publication to grow amongst the education world, which has enabled students to discuss openly their many issues.
Although I very much want to see education improve in this town, we must always remember that ‘educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all…’