Paul Conway (Headteacher)
I was born in Norton and I am the youngest of 4 siblings. I attended St Edward’s Primary School in Middlesbrough before going to Newlands FCJ School. My Catholic education continued when I attended St Mary’s VI Form College to do my A-levels and Trinity and All Saints University, Leeds to complete a Teaching Degree.
Although I enjoyed my time in Leeds, my heart belonged to Middlesbrough and I returned to teach at my former primary school – St Edward’s. I stayed there for 12 years before successfully applying for the post of Deputy Head Teacher at St Bernadette’s.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as Deputy Head teacher developing my leadership skills under the guidance of an inspirational Headteacher. In July 2017, Mrs Cobbold retired after 23 years in post. I was delighted to succeed Mrs Cobbold as Headteacher of St. Bernadette’s.
I am a passionate advocate of Catholic Education and look forward to every challenge and opportunity to continuously drive our school further forward.
I have been a governor at the school since my appointment as Headteacher in September 2017.
Mary Bilous (Chair- Foundation Governor)
I come from Lincoln where I was born and brought up with my parents and sisters. My father was a GP in Lincoln but came from Ireland. I attended St Joseph’s Convent in Lincoln and then Presentation Convent Matlock for sixth form where I boarded for 2 years. I trained as a nurse at Guys Hospital in London and subsequently became a midwife and health visitor.
I am married to Rudy and we moved up to the North East when my daughter was 4 months old, for Rudy to work in Newcastle. We came to Stokesley when he became a Consultant. I have 4 children who were all at St Bernadette’s school, one daughter Katharine and three boys Thomas, Nicholas and Jonathan, and my association with school dates back over the last 24 years. I have been a Governor at school for 20 years. Therefore St Bernadette’s is very close to my heart.
I work at James Cook University Hospital as a diabetes specialist nurse, a job which I really enjoy. My husband has now retired from the NHS and works for Newcastle University Medical School in Malaysia.
John Shiel (Vice Chair -Foundation Governor)
I am a qualified accountant for 20 years and I work for Gateshead Council as Service Director in Financial Management.
I was born in Middlesbrough and attended St Edward’s Primary School, followed by St George’s Secondary School and then St Mary’s Sixth Form College. I am a St Bernadette’s parishioner and have had two daughters at St Bernadette’s School.
My interests include golf, gardening and walking with the family.
I enjoy being a governor. I am lead governor for outcomes of pupils and have class governor responsibilities.
Paul Benfield (Foundation Governor)
I am born and bred in Middlesbrough. I was educated at St Mary’s College and trained as a teacher at Christ’s College Liverpool. I was fortunate to teach for nearly 40 years in six different Secondary schools in the Cleveland area.
I have always been a keen sportsman including playing local soccer and cricket and I continue to try and play golf!
I have lived in St Bernadette’s Parish for nearly 50 years and my three sons have all had the benefit of being educated at St Bernadette’s.
I have really enjoy supporting St Bernadette’s in its ambition to be the best it can be!
Louise Brady (Foundation Governor)
I was born in Middlesbrough and I am the youngest of four children. I attended Sacred Heart primary school, St Michael’s Secondary school and St Mary’s Convent Grammar. For three years I attended St Mary’s Catholic Teachers Training college in Fenham, Newcastle, where I qualified as a teacher in 1978. My first teaching post was at St Pius X in Park End. After getting married in 1980 I went on to have four children, one boy and three girls. During their early years I took on some supply positions until securing a full time post at St. Bernadette’s. My own children attended St Bernadette’s too. Initially I taught Y1 and Y3 until applying for the position of first nursery teacher at the school. In 1993 I set up the nursery at St. Bernadette’s and this became my passion as a teacher. This to me was the most rewarding post in the school!
In 2012 after much deliberation, I decided that for personal and family reasons I would retire from teaching. I now have seven grandchildren so my days are very busy. I like to play golf and make special cakes for birthdays, weddings, etc. I love gardening and try to keep fit swimming and walking my dog.
I am a committed Catholic and I have been a Catechist for the last six years. My responsibilities as a Governor currently are: Behaviour and attitudes, EYFS and ICT. I enjoy being part of the Governance team and seeing St. Bernadette’s school prosper.
Laura Cutler (Foundation Governor)
I spent several years working as a school chaplaincy coordinator in both Middlesbrough and Hexham and Newcastle Diocese before becoming a full time parent. I am now enjoying being a mother to my daughters who both attend St Bernadette’s and working as a chaplain at St Peter’s. I enjoy being part of St Bernadette’s Local Management Board as a foundation governor.
Mike Wren (Foundation Governor)
I was born in Thornaby and I am the youngest in a family of three other siblings. I attended St. Patrick’s RC Primary and Secondary Schools in Thornaby. My Catholic education continued at St. Mary’s Sixth Form College, were my involvement in special educational needs, developing inclusive opportunities for children with disabilities and charitable giving all first began. I am married to Claire, who is a former pupil of St. Bernadette’s. Our daughter loves attending the School and Church, which has really inspired my interest in becoming a Foundation Governor.
In my previous career, I was a qualified social worker for 18 years serving local communities predominantly in Middlesbrough. Taking up my current role, as a Senior Lecturer at Teesside University. Leading on courses, practice placements, modules and CPD opportunities across – Social Work, Education and Health Departments. I graduated from Sunderland, Huddersfield and Teesside Universities with my First degree, MA in Education and Diploma in Management Studies. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My interests include; running, gardening and walking.
I hope to combine my experiences and dedication to Catholic education with a passion for working together to ensure that every child can genuinely be the best they can be!
Jonathan Willett (Parent Governor)
I am currently a managing Director of Henderson Insurance Brokers Ltd – I am a Client Director in addition to being the Managing Director of the Stockton Office so my roles include Client Development & Retention, Health & Safety, Human Resources, Financial Management, Sales & Marketing and being overall responsible for the Success of the Local Office.
I am passionate about the success of St Bernadette’s as a school and have a personal interest as my daughter is in school and I would like to see her education flourish.
I was born in Guisborough and went to school at Galley Hill Primary School, followed by Yarm Grammar School where I sat my GCSE’s and A Level’s.
I then went to Teesside University and studied a Business Management & Communication Degree, qualifying with 2 : 1 Honours. On graduating from Teesside University I went to London for 4.5 Years as a Lloyds Of London Underwriter.
I then returned to the North East, which I am passionate about and became involved in the family insurance broking business called Willett & Ross Ltd.
In 2003, the family business was sold and I worked for the new company Towergate until 2009. In 2009 I left Towergate and set up Henderson Insurance Brokers Ltd.
My interests include: family, golf, tennis, football, rugby and the gym. I am a keen Middlesbrough Football supporter and have had a season ticket since I was 6 years old. I am also Vice President of Middlesbrough Rugby Club.
I relish the role of parent governor and look forward to supporting the school through my experience and passion for education.
Stuart Finn (Parent Governor)
I was born in Middlesbrough and I am in the middle of 3 siblings. I attended St Gabriel’s Primary School before moving onto Newlands FCJ School. I then attended University at Teesside for my first degree. I have continued to develop my studies through further degrees at Bradford and Manchester Business School.
As a governor I currently assume responsibility for a class Governor and SEN.
Laura Stoker (Staff Governor)
I was born in Middlesbrough and have been privileged to experience life at St Bernadette’s not only as a teacher for the last eight years, but as a child too!
After beginning my education at St Bernadette’s, I attended Teesside High School, where I developed a love of Classics, History and English Literature. I went on to study a degree in History before completing my PGCE in Education.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I was appointed as an NQT to my old primary school, due to the fact that as a child, I always felt so supported, loved and welcome within the community of St Bernadette’s. Therefore, I knew it would be an incredible place to start my teaching career. As an adult, I have always been encouraged to continually learn, develop and grow by our Head teacher and leadership team, in the same way I was when I was a child.
I have taught in Year 3, 5 and 6 and I am responsible for Literacy across the school. I love my job and look forward to many more years of challenges!