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Kingston Maurward College Corporation Membership

Robert Lasseter – Chair of the Corporation

Robert Lasseter is the managing partner of the family business Corton Farm Partnership.  The farm has high welfare pig and arable enterprises.  Business interests currently being developed are renewable energy and carbon sequestration.  The business is on its journey to net zero.

Previously Robert was a partner at Strutt and Parker and then Director of Evershot Farms.  He has held non executive roles at Childhay Manor, Wessex Grain, NFU (Regional Chair, National Governance and Crops,) Oxford Farming Conference and AHDB (Cereals.)  He is currently also on the Dorset AONB Board and a member at the Dorset Studio School.

Robert is married to Holly who runs Holly Lasseter Designs from her studio at Corton.  Their daughter Matilda works as an interior designer in London.  Their son Archie is the sustainability lead for Utilita.

Away from home, these days Robert is happiest in mountains or crossing the UK on foot, which he has done three times to date.


Richard Barker – Vice Chair of the Corporation

A retail professional with extensive senior management experience in sales, marketing and change management.

Richard has been a director of Waterstone’s Booksellers, Managing Director of Blackwell Retail Ltd and General Manager of the Post Office Network.

Other posts held include Chairman of Book Tokens Ltd, and Chair of Governors at Stanchester Academy.

Richard is now owner and Managing Director of Dorset Retail Ltd, with shops in Bridport, Beaminster and Sherborne, and a growing wholesale business covering Dorset and Somerset.

Richard is a season ticket holder at Exeter Chiefs, and fanatical about English cricket.

Luke Rake – Principal

Luke Rake joined Kingston Maurward as Principal and Chief Executive in the summer of 2016.

An Oxford-educated zoologist who grew up on the edge of Dartmoor, Luke is a specialist in biological and outdoor education, a qualified science and environmental studies teacher as well as a qualified climbing instructor.

Luke has held senior roles in both schools and colleges for the last 25 years, and is an elected Fellow of the Linnean Society in recognition for his work in promoting understanding of the natural world. As well as these academic skills, Luke’s experience as a Mountain Rescue Team Training Officer for 10 years in the Brecon Beacons National Park helps support the College’s work with outdoor adventure and military partners.

Luke holds and has held a number of concurrent senior sector, regional and national roles to support the College and wider Dorset community, engagement with nature and sustainable food production. He is Chair of Dorset Local Nature Partnership and board member of Dorset AONB. He is also a board member of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership for whom he chairs the Rural Enterprise Group, Skills Advisory Board, and also the pan-Dorset Careers and Enterprise Steering group, working with schools and businesses across the county to improve life chances for young people.

More widely he is currently chairing a regional LEP Rural food, Farming and Fishing programme board, building on work from the SW Rural Productivity Commission in 2017 where he was Dorset’s commissioner, to support rural resilience and communities. He is a current National Director of Landex, representing land-based and environmental education across the UK, and formerly a National Director of the Environmental Alliance of Universities and Colleges.

John Bullen – Chair of the Estate Committee

Having completed a 30 year career in civil engineering and airport management, John ran his own business carrying out project management, interim leadership roles and business/career/leadership mentoring.

He has worked on major projects such as Heathrow Terminal 5 and has led large operational teams, including budgetary accountability.  John acted as a crisis leader at Heathrow at times of operational disruption.

He maintained an active interest in safety and workforce development throughout his career.

John was pro bono chair for the 10 years of its existence of a not-for-profit employment and workforce training intermediary.

More recently, John’s mentoring experience has included working with Dorset SMEs and in the charity sector, as well as with students taking the Chartered Management Apprenticeship at Portsmouth University. He has, in the past, been accredited as a youth coach for both cricket and rugby.

John has distant family connections in farming and now has a keen interest in how KMC can stay ‘ahead of the curve’ in this fast-changing sector.

John and his wife, Dawn, have lived in the New Forest since 1995, where they have brought up their 3 children.

John enjoys golf, gardening and walking the dog.

Hannah Crocker – Staff Governor

Andrew Davies

A veterinary surgeon who has been Managing Director of Synergy Farm Health, a 40+ vet local Farm animal practice , since 2009 and will from end of 2021 become Senior Director on the Board.

Andrew is also a Non- Executive Director on the Board of the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS) a professional indemnity insurance company and is Principal Official Veterinarian (POV) and Chairman of Farmcare West Ltd, provider of official veterinary services to government in the Southwest region. He is also a Medicines Procurement Adviser for XLVets UK Ltd.

He is very motivated by people development and education and has been heavily involved with the setting up of an internship programme and the Farm Animal Teaching rotation for final year veterinary students with the Royal Veterinary College, University of London.

In his spare time, he is a keen follower of both rugby union and football- being a passionate Welshman avidly following the national rugby team but also a lifelong supporter, for his sins, of Swansea City AFC!

He is a member of Briantspuddle Singers and also enjoys walking the Dorset coast and countryside with his family and their dog.

Dan Knight – Chair of Audit & Assurance Committee

Having grown up on a dairy farm on the Dorset/Somerset border, Dan spent a number of years working in agriculture before becoming a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Adviser. Harnessing both his practical and professional experience, Dan has spent the last 15 years advising farming businesses across the region on a wide range of issues.

Passionate about his work, Dan specialises in succession planning and restructuring, helping farming families to implement change, accomplish their ambition and enhance the legacy for future generations.

Dan is a keen shot in the field or facing the trap and thoroughly enjoys supporting his young son on the football field.

Graham Ledden – Chair of Finance & Resources Committee

A retired Chartered Accountant who spent the last ten years of his career in education, nine of which were as Vice Principal Business and Finance and Deputy CEO at Hartpury College.

Graham qualified in the City with what is now Ernst and Young and then spent a major part of his career in the Nat West Group. After 6 years as a Finance Director in the care sector, Graham moved into education in 2008.

Graham and his wife moved to Shaftesbury in 2018.  He enjoys rugby, walking, fly fishing and the countryside in general. He is also Treasurer of England Colleges RFU.

Annetta Minard

Principal of the Dorset Studio School

Nicola Newman

Nicola has Non-Executive Director, CEO and Executive Director level experience in leadership, governance, strategic communications – including crisis planning and managing – and marketing, for charities, multinationals, small and medium sized enterprises, national governing bodies of sport, and government. Most of her career has been in the education and sport sectors. She has previously owned an executive search consultancy and a public relations and events business. Nicola is currently a Dorset Chamber of Commerce Board Member, a Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership Board Member and a member of the Dorset Skills Advisory Panel and Board – all voluntary. Her paid work includes supporting a Dorset based, UK wide, health and wellbeing business.

Kay Taylor – Chair of Quality & Standards Committee

Retired in 2019 from the post of Executive Principal of the Minerva Learning Trust – a group of primary and secondary schools in Bridport.  She had previously been the Headteacher of the Sir John Colfox Academy in Bridport.

Originally from Northern Ireland, she graduated from the University of Aberdeen and taught History in Gairloch, Scotland, Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes before moving to Bridport to take up a Deputy Head post in 1993.

She is also a Lay Member of the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body.

Debs Thomas

I was fortunate to have spent the majority of the 80’s in West Germany, including two and half years in Western Berlin.  On returning to the UK, I joined the rank and file of local government in 1989, working as an enforcement officer in a number of roles until I semi-retired in the summer of 2020.

Although never a girl guide, I stepped forward to be a leader in the Scouts in 1983 and have seen various changes over the years including new sections, programmes; and, best of all the introduction of girls in 2000!

I have worked with youth members in all age ranges from six to eighteen years old; travelled to Europe on numerous international events, including a World Scout Jamboree; and, been proud to be a part of a Guard of Honour at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial on one occasion.

In Scouting I have held a number of roles, including District Commissioner; Assistant and Deputy County Commissioner; programme lead for large scale events; and, I continue to be a leader trainer as well as running sections in a local group.

I was the Chair of the Dorchester Carnival Committee that delivered the event in 2016 and 2017.

Richard Williamson

Richard is the managing director of his family consultancy business which provides strategic information to land based businesses. He holds a number of executive and non-executive positions in the industry including executive chairman at Trinity Grain Limited, executive director at Isle of Wight Grain, non executive director at Synergy Farm Health Limited. In addition he is CEO of FruitCast Limited, a technology start up company which predicts crop yield. He acts as a strategic advisor to a large agricultural input company as well as a number of landed estates.

Richard is a member of The Agricultural Forum, an Associate of The Royal Agricultural Society, a Liverymen of The Worshipful Company of Farmers and a member of the BBC Rural Affairs Committee.

Previously Richard was managing director of Dyson Farming Limited which comprised significant land, real estate and energy activities and prior to that he was a director and shareholder of Velcourt.

Richard is married to Catriona, a head teacher, and has two grown up children, Bethan (teacher) and Lara (solicitor).

Richard is an enthusiastic (sometimes overly) supporter of hockey.

Rebecca King – Co-opted Member of the Audit & Assurance Committee

Ben Murphy – Co-opted Member of the Estate Committee

Ben is a Chartered Surveyor and Estate Director for the Duchy of Cornwall, taking a long term approach to land stewardship and building sustainable communities including Poundbury in Dorchester. Ben brings a broad experience of planning, development and estate management, previously as Development Manager of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the lead up to the 2012 Games, and prior to this with market leading developers, private consultancies and public agencies.

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