Movers & Shakers: Julia Smith named as new chair of governors as Writtle College

Writtle College outgoing chair Lise-Lotte Olsen and incoming chair Julia Smith.

Writtle College outgoing chair Lise-Lotte Olsen and incoming chair Julia Smith. - Credit: Archant

Julia Smith has been appointed to take over as chair of Writtle College’s board of governors.

Julia, who has served as a governor at the Chelmsford-based land college since July 2010, will take over from Lise-Lotte Olsen, who is due to finish her term of office after eight years in the role. During this time, the college achieved a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted inspectors, it opened the Titchmarsh Centre for Animal Studies and was given Taught Degree Awarding Powers, which means it will be able to award its own degrees.

Julia said: “I very much look forward to this challenge as we enter an exciting phase in our history with the ability to award our own degrees and our ambition to further strengthen our Further Education provision, building on our very successful last Ofsted inspection.

“I am firmly on the side of the student and will be championing them throughout my term of office, making sure they get the very best education if they choose to study here with us at Writtle College.”

Julia, a maths specialist adviser and author, is a qualified teacher, with experience in further education and secondary education. She is an Ofqual (Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) maths subject specialist and a lead for the Association of Colleges in the Eastern Region (ACER). She is also an author for the Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press, and has worked on BBC Bitesize and My Maths.

Julia comes from a family farming background. She married to St Osyth farmer Guy Smith, vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), past chair of the Essex Agricultural Society and a familiar face at the annual Essex Food and Farming Event hosted by the college.

Lotte, a business and training consultant, said: “I wish Writtle College and the Governing Body every success going forward. Hopefully during my tenure as chair we have started to build a sound base for the future and I think Julia will be an extremely able chair to continue this process.”

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: : A would-be retailer who took the plunge four years ago and transformed her business dream into reality by setting up in a high street shop is celebrating a new milestone with the launch of a ‘shabby-chic’ room and garden makeover business.

Merritt Short, of Harwich, signed a lease and started trading from a pop-up shop in Dovercourt.

She was the final tenant to grab the chance to test out her ideas without having to take on the burden of paying rent and rates, which were covered as part of the deal.

Merritt ended up continuing in the same premises when the scheme ended and has been trading from the site in the town’s High Street ever since. She is now preparing to move into the former HSBC bank building down the road with new business partner Jane McGarry.

Merritt started out as Vintagefresh selling shabby chic furniture, refurbishing furniture, selling vintage china and glass, as well as hiring out vintage tea sets for functions.

Jane, who joined up last summer, runs Forget Me Not and together they will be trading as Boutique Paint Station.

“Looking back to when I took on the pop-up shop in 2011 it was a huge leap of faith from running my business from home through my website,” said Merritt.

“It was an opportunity for me to have a shop window in the town centre. Things went well and I decided to take on the premises when my tenancy ended after four months and the rest is history.”

Merritt says she has learned a great deal over the past four years and has made significant changes, including Jane coming on board last summer.

“The pop-up shop certainly gave me that chance to enter the world of the high street as opposed to the cosiness of my own front room,” she added. “It has been a real learning curve and I cannot pretend it has all been plain sailing but we are now in a position where we feel the time is right to expand.

“We are excited about the prospect of a larger building as we have run out of space where we are.”

Jane, also from Harwich, has helped provide the investment to move on and is enjoying the partnership.

“We are able to do so much more together and we are taking on whole room makeovers, tackling gardens and running classes,” she said. “Everything gets that shabby chic look and it seems to be very popular with our customers.”

The pop-up shop initiative was set up by Tendring District Council (TDC) with £22,000 of Government cash. Two other tenants, one from the Dovercourt site and one from Clacton, are still operating. Katrina Olive trades in Harwich and Jenny Weaver has a shop in Clacton.

TDC’s communications manager Nigel Brown said: “Merritt took on the tenancy in Dovercourt from May to August 2011. It is fantastic to see just what she has achieved in a relatively short period of time and we wish her and Jane every success.

“They have taken over a larger empty building in the town centre and are going from strength to strength.”

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Kevin comes to the role with a wealth of experience, not only in finance with previous career positions with the National Audit Office and Willis Insurance Brokers, but also with significant sector knowledge having been finance director with Kent Blaxill for just under 10 years.

Midlands-born Kevin has lived with his family in West Bergholt for almost 30 years.

Managing director Tim Rowbottom said: “As an independent family-owned business, we particularly recognise the importance of recruiting the right people to secure future growth and development. Finance is a pivotal role, underpinning performance at all levels. We are delighted to have Kevin join.” us as part of our close-knit team and know that his experience, outlook and talents will be very much appreciated.”

Kevin Sturdy is happy to step up to the challenge: “I was fortunate enough to start with Collier & Catchpole in an interim role and so had the opportunity to get to know the role and the business before taking on the permanent position as finance director. I respect how Collier & Catchpole values its customer base and aims to differentiate itself from the competition by its service levels. I look forward to being part of the team as the business goes through this period of growth and diversification.”

: : Carl Studd has joined the expanding team at Gipping Construction, based in Baylham, near Needham Market, as senior contracts manager.

Carl has spent more than 28 years in the industry. He started his career as a carpenter with what was then Sadler & Sons of Ipswich and has advanced his career. to manage many multi million pound projects throughout East Anglia.

He said he was “delighted” to be joining the team.

“I am looking forward to working with such a professional and experienced team on the exciting projects that Gipping undertake.

The positive and friendly approach to construction is a refreshing model in our industry. I I have been very impressed.” by the quality of craftsman and operatives at this award-winning company.”

Carl enjoys water sports and is part of the rescue team at Waldringfield Sailing Club - ex auxiliary Coastguard. He also likes ballroom dancing, competing at a high level.

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Adam Hudson joins from C Spencer Ltd where he has spent the last four years working as a senior project surveyor.

In his new role, Adam will be involved in all commercial aspects of live projects, working closely with the site teams and clients.

Director Simon Girling said: “We are really pleased to welcome Adam to the SEH French team. He brings with him a great deal of enthusiasm for the role and we’re confident he will be a great fit for us as a business. We’re looking forward to seeing the benefits of his skills.”

Adam said: “I have already been made to feel very welcome at SEH French, and there is a great sense of camaraderie. It’s great to be part of a team that’s so passionate about their job and their industry. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”