Trustees

Chair - Cheryl Mathieson

Non Foundation Trustee – End of term 1 Oct 2025

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.

Nicky Dunford – CEO

Non Foundation Trustee

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.

Fiona Walters

Foundation Trustee – 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.

Dominic Course

Non Foundation Trustee - End of Term 31 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.

Sarah Cox

Foundation Trustee - End of Term 31 Dec 2024

Sarah was born in Exeter and returned to Devon in 2016 with her twins and partner, having spent several years running her own language school in France, teaching children and adults French and English. Since her return she has worked on a consultancy basis for a portfolio of different companies in varying sectors, consulting on Operations and Financial planning. She enjoys helping companies old and new.

She is a member of the Drakes School PTFA and actively involved as a Trustee on local charities and with any leftover spare time enjoys looking after her horses and cooking

Paul Waterworth

Foundation Trustee - End of Term 31 Dec 2024

Paul was born in Bath and educated in Devon. After qualifying as a solicitor he practiced law in London and later in the Midlands, where he was for 10 years the joint managing partner of a large firm.

Having for some years sat as a deputy judge, he was appointed as a full time judge. He was a judge for 22 years, first in the Midlands and later in Devon: he specialized in civil and family cases including care and private law proceedings, from which he has developed a detailed interest in the needs of children with personal and home-life difficulties.

Paul has extensive experience of the charity and public sectors including in education. He was clerk to the governors of a grammar school in Stratford upon Avon, has sat on the management committees of several charities and has often acted as chairman. He recently stood down after 6 years as Chair of the Devon and Exeter branch of the international charity, the English Speaking Union.

Graeme Scott

Foundation Trustee - End of Term 24 Jan 2026

Graeme has worked in education for 37 years, in both public and private sector schools. He has held leadership roles for the past 26 years, both in the UK and overseas. In his time as a Headteacher of Hampsthwaite Church of England Primary School in North Yorkshire, an 'Ofsted' outstanding school, he worked closely with the Church and Parish Council to ensure a values-based education, where care and compassion were key principles upheld by all.
Subsequent leadership positions have included roles as Principal of the International School of The Hague, Deputy Superintendent of the International School Bangkok and Founding Director of Fairgreen International School, the Middle East's first sustainable school.
Graeme has a broad understanding of the challenges and opportunities in education and with over 20 years teaching primary children, appreciates the issues from a teacher perspective as well as through a leadership lens.
Graeme has the strategic and operational experience to support the Link Academy trust and anticipates his role to be an exciting and humbling experience.

Christopher Norman

Foundation Trustee - End of Term 1 Feb 2026

Christopher is a highly experienced management director and procurement leader with a track record of delivering business and people focused facilities management strategies within the public sector. In a previous role as Head of Department for a City Council, a substantial element of his work involved supporting the city's schools in delivering effective, economical, and site-specific facilities service to enhance the education experience and individual pupils learning.
During his time in senior leadership roles, Christopher gained an MSc in the build environment and environmental management, a post graduate in management and more recently gained corporate membership of Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply.
He see's becoming a Trustee as an exciting opportunity to join an established and progressive trust which has a successful operating model of bringing small schools together and is looking for ward to adding his property expertise and representation to the Board.

Katherine Evans

Foundation Trustee - End of Term 15 Feb 2026

Kate comes to the Link Academy Trust with extensive experience leading school improvement and has a huge passion for improving the educational outcomes for all pupils. She conducts school improvement consultancy for both Guildford and Southwark Diocese, where her skills and experience are very highly valued, evidenced by both Dioceses offering additional schools, some of which are in vulnerable circumstances and require careful partnership support alongside LA services.
Kate strongly upholds the distinctively Christian values of church schools and the Church of England Vision for Education. She will be a great addition to our Board and her skills and knowledge will only enhance the strong committee responsible for standards & curriculum.

Benjamin Thorne

Non-Foundation Trustee - End of Term 21.02.2026

Ben is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a Diploma in Charity Accounting. He has spent 14 years working in an accounting practice in Plymouth, specialising in the charity and not for profit sector, where he also oversaw staff training on academy trust matters. Ben was seen as the expert for advising clients across the whole firm on handbook and compliance matters.
During his time in the accountancy practice, he has overseen the preparation and audit of financial statements of a large number of trusts ranging from single academy trusts to very large (35+school) multi academy trusts.
Ben is now teaching at the University of Plymouth, lecturing on Audit and Financial reporting. He has a vast amount of experience within the sector and will bring a critical financial eye to the Board, with additional knowledge of risk management and audit responsibilities.

Charlotte Roe

Governance Professional inc Clerk to the Trust

clerk@thelink.academy