Chair: Isabel Cherrett

Foundation Director – End of term 7 March 2024

After three years at the Home Office, Isabel moved to Chichester in West Sussex and worked for the County Fire Officer, supporting a number of national projects. In 1987, she was appointed PA to the Director of the former West Sussex Institute of Higher Education with the role of Clerk to the Governors and Trustees being added in 1995. The institution transferred to a private company limited by guarantee in 2003 when Isabel was appointed Company Secretary, adding the role of Freedom of Information Officer three years later. A Member of the Chartered Management Institute, Isabel has upheld the highest standards of good governance, supporting senior management of what became the University of Chichester in 2005.

She and her husband moved to Devon in 2015 to spend more time with their two daughters and four granddaughters and to enjoy the benefits of retirement. The University of Chichester has a long and successful history of widening participation; the creation of the Link Academy ensures that primary schools can retain and enhance their child-focused approach whilst benefiting from the breadth of staff experience and skills.

Nicky Dunford – CEO

Non Foundation Director

Nicky Dunford returned to education after 15 years of running her own highly successful manufacturing business to take up the headship of Hennock Community Primary School in 2006. The school was operating as a ‘satisfactory school’ when she accepted the post, with significant changes made it was subsequently judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in 2008.

Nicky received the NCSL Regional Primary Head Teacher Award in 2009

In 2010 Nicky was asked to take up the role of acting Head Teacher at Bearnes’ Voluntary Primary as it joined Hennock in Management Partnership; the school had been operating well below DfE Floor Standards for a long period of time at this point and was in danger of closure. Requiring robust and rigorous leadership, including major building changes, alongside considerable development of staff and leadership the school moved to a judgement of ‘good’ in 2012. While she has been leading the school the number of children on roll has increased from below 30 children to in excess of 100 pupils.

Since September 2012 the two schools, together with Hennock Foundation Stage Unit and more recently Bearnes’ Foundation Unit have operated as Newton and Teign Federation with Nicky as the executive Head Teacher. Both schools have (April 29/30th 2015) been judged as ‘good’.

Nicky has a degree in Education, NPQH qualification and many training qualifications associated with the role of Head Teacher. Living on the edge of Dartmoor, Nicky has 2 grown up daughters, 2 horses and a large garden- all of which keeps her busy, alongside the demands of being a Chief Executive Officer.

Mike Fisher

Foundation Director - End of Term 6 May 2023

Mike Fisher is a partner at Bailey Partnership and is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He is a talented architect with a broad background of experience and has been involved with various projects, developing schemes from inception through to completion for both new build and refurbishment work.

Roy Gillard

Foundation Director – End of term 9 Oct 2024

Roy became a Civil Servant in 1980 and in his 30-year career, has held many senior Finance Director roles in the Ministry of Defence (MOD), including at the MODs university situated at the Royal Naval Engineering College at Manadon, Plymouth. Roy has an excellent depth of knowledge and experience in detailed business administration processes, financial budgeting and project management skills.

Roy is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and is also a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Roy left the MOD ten years ago to become a CIMA Member in Practice and became the Managing Director and Company Secretary of his own Management Accountancy Practice. Roy has recently achieved an MSc in Strategic Business Management from Manchester Metropolitan University and is also a Member of the Chartered Management Institute.

Roy has been a governor of various schools in the South Hams for the last 34 Years and a governor at Dartington C of E Primary School and Nursery for the past 17 years. He joins the Link Academy Trust as Finance Director.

Jason Hayward-Jones

Non Foundation Director – End of term 9 October 2022

Jason is an agriculturalist by education and profession. Having studied at Seale Hayne Agricultural College in the 1980's Jason spent over 20 years working for various government, not-for-profit and businesses around the world. He settled in Australia for 10 years, got married and had two children, before returning to Devon with his family to set up an agritech consulting business, in collaboration with local research and education institutions. Jason is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Member of the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants. Jason’s children attend Stoke Gabriel Primary School, and he is Chair of The Friends of Stoke School.

Cheryl Mathieson

Non Foundation Director – End of term 15 Oct 2021

Cheryl and her family moved back to the UK following her role as an HR Consultant and the Head of HR for Asia, based in Hong Kong for an International law firm. Cheryl is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel & Development and a UK Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, so brings wealth of experience to the Board for all HR matters.
Cheryl is married with two children currently at Diptford C of E Primary School. The family live in Diptford and Cheryl's husband is an active member of the School Committee and PTFA, Friends of Diptford School.

Fiona Walters

Foundation Director – End of term 1 May 2024

Fiona Walters is a non practising solicitor who qualified later in life after working in music publishing and property development. She won an RDS Conservation Award 1994-2004 for outstanding building. Although she practised law in Exeter as a criminal defence specialist, she gained distinction in the Law Society final exams in property, private client and family papers. She has lived on Dartmoor for 33 years and as a confirmed Christian has contributed to the local church community by singing in choirs, playing the organ and arranging church flowers. Throughout her life she has worked for a number of charities, notably the British Olympic Appeal and NSPCC Full Stop campaign. She is a Patron of Devon Opera and believes exposure to all the Arts is a vital part of education. She is married with a daughter.

Jane Collings

Foundation Director - End of term 31 Aug 2023

Jane originally trained in horticultural science and managed land based enterprises. She moved into teaching leadership, management, HR and teacher training. Since 1987 she has been a Learning and Development Advisor contracting to, the DfE, schools, universities and charities.

Jane worked for 6 years as an Educational Developer at the University of Plymouth specialising in educational development, inclusive teaching, learning and assessment, employability, diversity and narrowing the attainment gap. For many years she has contracted to Governance Consultancy focusing on school improvement, governance and facilitating for the Mediation Service.

Jane has been involved in schools for over 30 years as a parent through PTAs in nursery, primary and secondary phases. As a governor in a large secondary school, a small rural primary school, as a member of an Interim Executive Board before becoming a Trustee with The LINK Academy Trust. She has chaired governor committees, fulfilled the role of chair and vice chair and assisted in recruiting headteachers and with OFSTED inspections

Dominic Course

Non Foundation Director - End of Term 30 Mar 2024

Dominic is a graphic designer who has run his own agency since 1991, specialising in design, marketing and fundraising for the not-for-profit sector.

He has been involved with school governance since 2011 and has held posts as Chair of Governors at Moretonhampstead Primary School, Academy Director, Chair of Audit and, subsequently, Chair of Finance Committee for South Dartmoor MAT. This experience has given him a wide understanding of the issues facing schools and academy trusts from a financial compliance and strategic management viewpoint.
Despite having triplet daughters and a son, Dominic and his wife also regularly volunteer at Moretonhampstead Primary school. As well as organising the annual swimming gala, they lead the school children for a daily morning run – come rain or shine – and they say it is always the best part of their day.

Rachel Hill

Clerk to the Trust