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East Bergholt CEVC Primary School

'I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full' John 10:10

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Helen Armstrong - Chair of Governors

I became a Governor in 2015 because I am passionate about education and wanted to make a positive contribution to our children’s learning. Coming from the private sector, starting my early career in HR and later running my own business, I felt I had a lot of skills to offer. I took over the role of chair in March 2017.


I have been running my own businesses successfully since 2009, and therefore I am able to bring my expertise of strategy and leadership, along with the ability to build relationships and “get things done”, to our Governing Body. I am qualified in HR and project management, which is also useful for this role.


Outside of my businesses, I am a Freeman of the City of London and am involved in lots of charity work related to IT activity in the city. I mentor many women in business, mostly from the charity sector, and I am an avid gym goer alongside being a wife, mother to two girls and the owner of Emmi, the black lab.

Reverend Canon Stephne Van de Toorn

I was ordained in South Africa 26 years ago after hearing the clear call of God to follow him into ministry. Married with four grown up daughters, we have been living in the UK since 2001. I served in the Diocese of Pretoria, and then from 2001 in the Diocese of Winchester before coming here. Throughout the years I have been very involved in my local schools. One of the delights of my work as Rector of East Bergholt and Brantham is that I am a Foundation Governor of the school (ie the Church connection) , and get to be with the children often. Their enthusiasm and thirst for learning is a joy to behold. Jesus came to offer fulness of life to all people, and it is an immense privilege to be able to share the Christian principles which are foundational to the school, and to participate in various activities such as Open the Book and the programmes the church offers to the school. Coco my guide dog is a celebrity in the village, and she helps me enormously.

Jan Plumstead

After moving into the village, I briefly assisted in a classroom at our school before taking up a permanent finance role in a large Ipswich primary school. I now also manage the finances for a Teaching and Research School based in Ipswich. In 2016, I became a parent governor, and later chair of the finance committee.


Before becoming a mother of two, I travelled extensively. After a some years in banking in Australia, I retrained in London and worked as finance manager/accountant in the travel, engineering and media sectors.


As an advocate for life-long learning, I am again retraining in the education sector. I enjoy the experiences afforded by supporting and working for a variety of school settings. In supporting our school as governor, I have the opportunity to explore, learn and share best practice that can support our school’s children and their families; and over five hundred families in Ipswich.

Kathryn Sumner

East Bergholt is a fantastic place to learn. It is through watching my own daughter thrive in such a rich learning environment that I want to stand as parent governor and support the school in continuing with the wonderful work they are already doing.

I have been a primary school teacher for many years and a teacher governor in the past. Last year I worked in year 6 at the school and I am working with reception at another local school at present. I have two older children who have been through the school system and tutored children from primary age right through to key stage 4. I have an excellent understanding of the education system, both as a teacher and as a parent, and I am in a great position to support the staff at East Bergholt to deliver an outstanding primary education to all pupils at the school.

I joined the Governing Board as a Staff Governor in Spring 2017. I have two children at Green Street Green in year 3 and year 6, and have worked at the school since 2014, enjoying a variety of support roles within several year groups as well as the Speech and Language Provision. I currently work as an Intervention Support Assistant in year 4, and also represent the school as an Autism Champion - coming together with primary and secondary professionals across Bromley schools to promote inclusive practice and greater understanding.

Being both a non-teaching staff member and parent on the Governing Board enables me to appreciate issues which effect the school from several perspectives. I am committed to being part of a Governing Body which is focussed on building an enabling and safe environment where children are excited by their learning and able to excel.

Ian Thoroughgood

All schools have a limited amount of money, time and goodwill with which to help us bring up our children and I feel that the governors of a school are a key element of ensuring these are used in the best way to achieve the right outcomes.


My work life to date has been a combination of education and accountancy. Having qualified as a secondary teacher in an inner-city London school I then changed careers into accountancy where for 10 years I was involved in auditing and advising companies. Becoming a dad meant a change of gear work wise and I so I now combine both roles as I work for a training provider to teach people how to pass their accountancy exams.


As a parent governor I always aim to use my experience to help the school be the best it can be and with three children who will pass through the school over the next 10 years I also aim to bring the perspective of a parent into any discussions.

Gavin Smith

Hi, my name is Gavin Smith and I joined the governing body as the Local Authority governor in April 2018. Prior to my appointment as Governor, I used to be a Business Mentor for a Kent based Technology College being an advocate for STEM and preparing students for the future.

I work for Juniper Networks, a US Internet technology company, looking after British Telecommunications (BT) as a customer in Martlesham, Suffolk. I’m married to a primary school teacher who works at another local school and have a lovable Staffy called Minnie.

Chris Burns

Having been a teacher for 38 years, 22 of them at East Bergholt High School, I originally became a Governor to help foster stronger links between the Primary and High School during a period of significant change in education. During this period, I was Deputy Head and then Acting Head of the High School, gaining a range of experience that I have been able to bring to my role at the Primary School. Having retired in July, 2019, I currently work with a high school in Colchester on intervention strategies. I also act as a Specialist Assessor for examination access arrangements.


Away from my role in education, I am grandad to four, three of whom attend local Primaries. Talking to them about their experiences of school helps me to understand the sector that they are in. I am a keen runner, avid reader and music fan. When time allows, I play 5 a side, watch Colchester United and support Preston North End!

Richard Wheatley

Having moved to the village in 2019, I joined the governing body as a parent governor in November 2020. My eldest daughter has recently started in Reception Year and I am passionate about supporting the learning and engagement of all of the children at the school. 

In my day job I am an actuarial advisor to trustees of occupational pension schemes, a role that brings many diverse challenges as schemes seek to improve the funding and security of their members’ benefits.  Through my 15 years as an actuary, I have developed a wealth of experience in financial planning, budgeting, negotiation and promoting good governance.

Simon Rothwell

Hello, I’m Simon Rothwell and I was appointed as a Foundation Governor in January 2020. My family have lived in East Bergholt since 2009 and I have a daughter at the school who started in Reception in 2019. As a family we regularly attend Family at Church at St Mary’s and I was delighted to have been approached by the church to be offered the opportunity to serve the school community.

I’m currently a regular commissioned officer in the Army but will be retiring in due course after 23 years’ service as an RGN and, prior to this, 6 years in the NHS. I have previously been co-opted to governance roles within the charitable sector, education and within a variety of healthcare organisations. My wife, Victoria, is a senior midwife at Ipswich Hospital, and I have two older daughters who are both in secondary education and live in Southend, where I was also a parent governor at their infant and junior schools.

Sue Williams

Hello, my name is Sue Williams and I have been a teacher for over 20 years, 12 of those being a headteacher in a Suffolk church school. I am now retired. I am passionate about education and love to see the wonderful environments schools create to enable children to learn.
I became a governor in order to continue supporting the school to give the best that they can for the children, staff and community they serve.
I am a proud parent of two children and also a grandparent of 5 girls and 1 boy. They keep me busy and help me to understand the issues that parents may have.
I enjoy walking, gardening,reading, music and being childish with the grandchildren!

Mark Hurley

It is a pleasure to be back working with East Bergholt Primary School, I originally started my working life at EB, originally, I started as an apprentice TA and over seven years became the school Emotional Literacy Support Assistant. Eventually it was time for a change, and I am now working in a leadership role at Northgate as the School Engagement Leader, I work with families and pupil with any barriers that may occur. I am a firm believer that the mental well-being of pupils is key to an effective and positive time at school, I want to use my skills I have gained and bring them to East Bergholt and hope to make a difference for staff and children.

I am a current sitting Parish councilor and seek to strengthen ties between our primary school and our community.