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Governor Pen Portraits to help you find out a little more about our Governors.


Full name,

type of Governor and reason for becoming a Governor


Who appointed

Date of appointment

  • Date stepped down


Governance role in other

educational institutions

Mrs Cathy Bednal - Headteacher and Governor



I am the Headteacher at Ripley Nursery School and have been in post for 6 years, prior to that I was the Deputy Head for 8 years. I have been an advocate of high quality nursery education for 26 years and moved from a large Nursery School in London to relocate to Derbyshire.

I live in the local area with my husband, two teenage sons and a contrary but lovable dog.

I am passionate about the outdoors and in my free time you will find me camping, cycling or walking in Derbyshire or in North Wales.

My recent achievements are completing the 100km London Ride the Night, in aid of women’s cancer charities, and developing my parallel turns on the ski slopes!

I am proud of developing the reflective nature of Ripley Nursery School which inspires all of us to view ourselves as lifelong learners and continually improve our offer to all the children of this special school.


Mr Ron Ashton - Governor (Co Chair of the Board of Governors)



My work background is that of an Electrical Engineer. I have run my own business, based in Ripley, for 35 years – I am now semi-retired.


I became a Governor 8 years ago when Amber Valley Borough Council encouraged local Councillors to get involved with community work to benefit young people in Ripley. This work has enabled me to support and help Ripley Nursery School deliver a good standard of education for the area.


Taking up the role of Councillor for Amber Valley Borough Council (for 8 years) and Ripley Town Council (for 12 years) has given me the opportunity to represent my local community and play a leadership role in creating and implementing the community’s vision, strategic direction and values. I am the Vice Chair of the Planning Board for Amber Valley Borough Council and Leader of the Conservative Group for Ripley Town Council.


I have been involved with the local Scouting movement for the past 30 years, supporting fundraising work and activities. I am also Group Scout Leader for the 1stst Ripley Scout Group. I find it rewarding to help the young people discover the wider world and develop their individual personalities.


I am a member of the Ripley League of Friends and have been for the past 5 years.


Mrs Deborah Bowater - Parent Governor (Co Chair of the Board of Governors)



I volunteered as Parent Governor in the hope I would be able to make a valuable contribution to the governance and strategy of the school. I have almost 20 years of business administration experience in education and recently performed the role of Clerk to Governors for two primary schools, so fully appreciate the importance, breadth and depth of the work of the Governing Body and committees. My eldest son recently left to start Primary School and he thoroughly enjoyed his time at Ripley Nursery. He received all the support and kindness he needed to develop into a confident and able young man ready to start 'big school'. My youngest has been attending since 6 months old and has received the best care from the Ladybirds team and now is enjoying the new challenges as a Busy Butterfly! It is my sincere privilege and commitment to support the school and Headteacher in return for the invaluable work they do.      

Mr Derek Jones - Parent Governor




I’m an Engineer working for Rolls Royce.


I have been a Parent Governor at Ripley Nursery School for the past two and a half years. Both my children Josh (8) and Rosa (5) attended the school from a very early age, initially using the Child Care provision, and then moving on to the Nursery School. As a family, our experiences of time spent at the school have been wonderful. The children benefited from being in an environment where they could learn through play. My wife and I had complete confidence they were safe and secure but, most importantly, having fun.


As I look back on my children’s time at Ripley Nursery School I recognise the benefits they have gained from attending this remarkable school. Looking to the future, I feel the least I can do is to apply some of my skills to help the school continue to grow and flourish, giving children the best start in life possible.

  • Stepped down July 2017

Mr Chris Buckley - Parent Governor



I became a Parent Governor for Ripley Nursery School so that I could make a positive contribution to my local community and help with the continued success of Ripley Nursery School. I live locally with my wife (Su) and two children Thomas (4) and Lilia (7). I work in Derby for East Midlands Trains in Human Resources, as part of my role as Parent Governor I sit on the Personnel & Resources Committee. I try to give my input as a parent but, will also contribute where possible, as a HR professional.

Outside of work I enjoy all sports but, due to time restrictions, this is generally limited to playing rugby most Saturdays. Sundays are always a family day and, weather permitting, I like to get out and about in the countryside and see if I can tire out Thomas & Lilia!


My son, Thomas, currently attends Ripley Nursery School three days a week, he has received great support from Mrs Bednal and her team.


Mrs Sherida Morgan - Co-opted Governor



I believe Ripley Nursery School is an excellent school, providing and delivering high quality care and education for children 0-5 years.


I am passionate about early years. I have a background in this age phase both as a Teacher, Headteacher and Early Years Quality Improvement Officer and consultant.


I am very interested in Early Years educational research, child development and the challenges for the Early Years sector.


It will be a privilege to be a Governor and be part of the journey the school is continuing to make to create and enhance the unique and exciting learning opportunities for all the young children at Ripley and therefore, achieve the best outcomes for them.


Mrs Donna Brown - Assistant Headteacher and Staff Governor




I am the Assistant Headteacher and work full time at Ripley Nursery School. I consider my Governing body role to be very important. Through supporting our Headteacher Cathy to create an environment where every child can reach their potential, and also sharing first-hand experience of the teaching and learning taking place in our school with the rest of our governing body.


I have lived in Ripley since I was a child, attending the local primary and secondary schools myself, therefore I feel a strong connection to the local community and want to ensure we continue provide an exciting, stimulating environment at Ripley Nursery School where children form the foundations to their education and are encouraged to be enthusiastic learners and investigators.


I am also Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCO) and enjoy working in partnership with parents and outside agencies to provide excellent care and education for our children with additional needs.


Outside of nursery I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, walking in the local countryside with my dog, listening to music, reading and skiing.


Mrs Alison Seaton - Co-opted Governor



I originally joined the Governing body as a Parent Governor when my daughter Isabelle attended in 2013. I find the role rewarding and it enables me to give something positive back to the school.


Since 2015 I have extended my position on the Governing Body and am now a Co-opted Governor. I have served on the Finance and Personnel Committee and am now Chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee.


Having worked in the education sector myself for seventeen years I have seen first-hand the great contribution that Governors and staff working together can make to a school.


The role of Governor at Ripley Nursery School has given me a chance to support the school in making a difference to the children in the local community.


As both a Headteacher at a Primary School and a Governor I am able to bring skills from my working life to support both the children and adults to ensure the best outcomes for the young people of our community.


Mrs Denise Findlay - Staff Governor




My name is Denise Findlay and I work full time at Ripley Nursery School as an Early Years Educator working with children with additional needs.


I have worked at the school for twenty years but my affiliation here started a long time before then. I was a student here thirty years ago and both of my children, who are now in their twenties, attended. I knew then what a unique nursery Ripley Nursery School is.


I have worked with children with additional needs for a large majority of my time here, however I was involved in setting up the Childcare element of the School and was instrumental in running the facility of the first five years. I also served as a Director for the Childcare Company for eight years.


Over the years I have worked with children with a wide variety of needs but I do have a special interest in the development of speech and language.


I am driven by a desire to get the best from all children at Ripley Nursery School as well as supporting their families and the wider community. I am passionate in my desire to help achieve the best possible foundation for children’s education.


Ripley Nursery School is already a fantastic place and I want to continue to support and develop it further.


Mrs Nicola Brown - Co-opted Governor




Hello my name is Nicola Brown and I am delighted to be a Governor at Ripley Nursery School. I have a passion for early education and have had the privilege of teaching within outstanding nursery schools for nearly 17 years (Ripley Nursery School for nearly 12 years); this includes work with 0-3 year olds, as well as 3-5 year olds. I believe every child has the right to a high quality, aspirational early education, where they are valued, respected and viewed by the adults around them as competent, curious, knowledgeable and full of potential. I know that this is what Ripley Nursery School strives to offer every child and I am looking forward to supporting them in their mission. 


In September 2014, with the support of Ripley Nursery School I started working as an Early Years Consultant; supporting the Derby City Early Years Quality Improvement team by mentoring and coaching early years teachers and practitioners; providing high quality CPD and project managing an early communication, language and literacy programme funded by the DFE. I have been leading the ECaM (physical development programme) training in the city for both schools and the PVI sector for the last 2 years. 


I am also an SLE (Specialist Leader in Education) for Early Years in Derbyshire; supporting schools to develop effective child-centred provision for 0-5 year olds, with an affiliation to Ripley Nursery School.   


A quote that captures my philosophy on early education; 


‘…each child is valued as infinitely capable, creative and intelligent. The job of the teacher is to support these qualities and to challenge children in appropriate ways.’ 


Carla Rinaldi 


Mrs Rosie Stone - School Business Manager - Associate Governor



In April 2016 I started working at Ripley Nursery as the School Business Manager. I feel that being on the Board of Governors helps me to utilise my skills and knowledge to support discussions and improvements to take the school forward.      

Mrs Melissa Eggleston - Parent Governor



I think Ripley Nursery School is an excellent nursery school, delivering high quality learning opportunities both within, and outside, the classroom. I have one daughter in the school and another in the Nursery.


Just like every other parent at Ripley Nursery School, I want the very best for my children. I want them to be happy, confident and become the very best they can be. As parents, we need to support the school but when necessary we should also put the school under tough scrutiny. I am not afraid to ask difficult questions and I am used to speaking out and up for what is most important. Frankly there is nothing more important than our children.


Ripley Nursery School is already a super starter school and just like everyone else, I want it to continue to succeed and improve further. The role of parent governor is a vastly responsible one and I would like an inside look at how things work and a chance to make a difference as well.


I believe that the first years of a child’s education are crucial to their later academic achievements and – just as importantly – to the development of social and other life skills.


Mrs Jo McHugh - Clerk to Governors


I have been Clerk to the Governors at Ripley Nursery School since 2013.


In the past I have worked as a Community Development Officer, prior to which I held various administration roles which I now use to the benefit of the school.


My two children attended Ripley Nursery School in the 1980's, and more recently, my five grandchildren have also enjoyed time at the school.


As a member of the local community, I am keen to support and encourage local schools in raising standards and provide a safe environment to enable every child to receive a good education and achieve their full potential.