2017 / 2018

Henry Ball


After graduating in Electronics, Henry taught in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Essex. He then moved to the Further Education sector, first as Vice Principal of Harlow College then as Principal of Lewes Tertiary College in 1988. Here he was a member of the East Sussex Economic Partnership and of the Newhaven Economic Partnership (NEP) latterly as the Chair.

Henry was appointed as Executive Director of the Sussex Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and later became Regional Director for the South East region. He was also a member of the LSC’s national management team. He was appointed by the Secretary of State to be a board member of the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) and was appointed as a member of the Board of the Specialist Schools Trust.

From September 2008 until April 2012, Henry was a board member of Sussex Enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce for Sussex.

Mike Hopkins

Principal & Chief Executive

Mike began his work at Sussex Downs College in September 2015.

A teacher by profession, Mike has also been a Senior Civil Servant, responsible for further and higher education in Wales.

Sussex Downs College is Mike’s third principalship, his previous two being at Swindon and Middlesbrough.

Mike is also involved at a national level within the Association of Colleges as well as the Principals’ Professional Council, which he Chaired between 2011-2014.

Graham Marsden

Vice Chair

GRAHAM MARSDEN Graham worked in education for 40 years, his final post before retirement being a member of the Senior Management Team at Cavendish School. For twenty years he was an elected member of Eastbourne Borough Council serving as both Leader and Mayor at different times. He joined the Board in 2006 and is Chair of the Finance and Human Resources Committee. He is also a member of the Remuneration Committee.

Tom Wilson

Vice Chair

TOM WILSON Tom studied Philosophy and Politics at St Andrew’s University before pursuing a career in journalism. In 1988 he changed sectors and moved into education. He started at the Association of University Teachers, moving to National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education before becoming the Director of Unionlearn at the Trades Union Congress. He sits on the Finance and Human Resources Committee.

Luka Dancyger Stevens

Student Governor

Mark Fisher


Mark Fisher is a senior member of faculty in the School of Business, Management and Economics at the University of Sussex. His primary area of research covers the development of the University's widening participation programme, which seeks to reach young people who would not usually consider University. Mark is a Chartered Accountant and also runs a consultancy service specialising in supporting not for profit organisations.

Elizabeth Funge


Elizabeth is Head of Education Improvement at East Sussex County Council. She has worked in education for 20 years, predominantly within the further education sector and was previously a Partnership Director at the Learning & Skills Council.

Peggy Hall


PEGGY HALL Peggy is a solicitor/partner at Mayo Wynne Baxter (Eastbourne office). She was formerly a lecturer in Further Education. She sits on the Finance and Human Resources Committee.

Jeff Hayes

Teaching Staff Governor

Jeff is Curriculum Leader for Engineering and Electrical Installation and has been at Sussex Downs College for 10 years. He has previously worked as a lecturer in a Cheshire college for 18 years joining the education sector after working for the Science and Engineering Research Council at Daresbury Laboratory. Jeff is the teaching staff member on the Governing Board.

Russell Higginbotham


Russell Higginbotham is Chief Executive Officer of the UK branch of Swiss Re Europe S.A.

Russell joined Swiss Re UK in 1994. In 2000 he became head of new UK life business and in 2002 he was promoted to run Swiss Re’s Life & Health operation in Japan and later Korea. In 2006 he became the CEO of Swiss Re’s combined Australia & New Zealand L&H and P&C operation, based in Sydney.

In 2010 he was appointed as CEO for Swiss Re’s reinsurance business in the UK and Ireland.

Russell launched his career at Provident Mutual Insurance Co followed by three years at Munich Re.

He graduated in 1990 from the University of Hertfordshire with a first class honours degree in Business Studies, has an MBA in Business Finance and is a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute.

Mark Hilder

Staff Governor

Mark Hilder is currently a Service Desk Technician for Network Services, prior to joining Sussexdowns College he worked for a global IT provider for over 10 years. He started his working life as an Engineer, completing an apprenticeship with a local pump company. Having completed an HND in mechanical engineering, he rose to the level of Production Engineer. This was followed by a spell in a technical sales role before moving to IT. He has lived in the Eastbourne area all his life, enjoying the Sussex countryside with his wife and two teenage children.

Ian Jungius


IAN JUNGIUS Ian is the retired Head teacher of Willingdon Community School and is a member of the Audit Committee.

Jeremy Leggett


Jeremy is Chief Executive of Action in rural Sussex, a Sussex based Charity that supports rural community life in East Sussex and West Sussex. In particular AirS provides support for village halls, local affordable housing schemes, rural transport initiatives, village shops, local community based economic initiatives and local community care services as well as providing training for rural community organisations and lobbying to ensure that rural areas are not forgotten wherever public policy is being made or implemented.

He was a commissioner on the Government’s Affordable Rural Housing Commission and is a Secretary of State appointed member of the South Downs National Park Authority.

Jeremy was born and brought up in West Sussex and after working for a number of national charities returned to Sussex to work for the Rural Community Council (now known as Action in rural Sussex) in 1990. He lives in a small village in central Sussex and has two children at the local secondary school.

He completed an MBA with Kingston Business School for which he carried out a research study into Human Resource implications of teleworking.

Jonathan Reid


Gill Short


I have always worked in the public sector firstly in the NHS as a nurse and health visitor and then in Further Education. Over a career of 38 years I started as a part time tutor and ended as a senior manager responsible for adult and higher education, employer led provision and International work. Since 2009 I have worked as an education consultant undertaking a range of projects for local Colleges. I am now semi-retired retaining one piece of work as an AOC Beacon Assessor.

Alan Wenham


Alan worked in local government and completed his career as the chief executive of a local authority for 15 years. He returned to his home town of Eastbourne upon his retirement. He is the chairman of 3VA, the council for voluntary services for the Eastbourne, Lewes and Wealden areas, and also chairs the Eastbourne Central branch of the University of the Third Age.

Nicki Whitehead


Nicki has recently set up her own company, "The Care Business", where she is in the unique position of being a Care Consultant giving advice to businesses providing care to people in their own homes. Nicki has had over 15 years experience in leading her own successful home care company, employing over 500 staff, across 8 branches along the South Coast and winning many awards. Before that, she was employed by Lewes Tertiary College.

Rebecca Wilson

Student Governor

Ra Hamilton-Burns

Director of Governance

Our Director of Governance is Ra (Sara) Hamilton-Burns who reports directly to the Chair of the Board but also works closely with the Principal. Ra holds a certificate in FE Governance from the ICSA. Prior to joining Sussex Downs College in 2011, Ra was Clerk at Sussex Coast College for six years and Bexhill College for one. Originally with a background in IT marketing, her current ambition is to make optimum use of technology to keep the Board informed but not snowed under!

Co-Opted Members Of Board Committees:

The Board has the power to co-opt persons who are not Governors of the College to serve on the Committees. The following appointments have been made:

SUE FOSTERSUE FOSTER Sue joined the Board in October 2009. A partner in the firm of Knill James (Lewes office), Chartered Accountants, Sue is a co-opted member of the Audit Committee.

KEITH RIDLEYKEITH RIDLEY Keith enjoyed a 42 year career in local media, publishing and editing newspapers across the midlands and south of England. The final years of his press career were as editor-in-chief of titles in Eastbourne, Hastings and Lewes. He now runs his own communications business and clients include the local council and the chamber of commerce. Keith is a board member of the Eastbourne Education Business Partnership and serves on the advisory boards for charities People Matter and the Friends of Sussex Hospices. Keith lives in Friston, has twin sons and is married to Amanda, a local dentist.

DAVID RUSSELL David joined the Education and Training Foundation as CEO in January 2014.  He has grown the Foundation from a fledgling organisation to one delivering effective support programmes for leaders, teachers and others across the education and training system.  David has a wide range of policy and programme management experience on national education and skills policy in England, including the Academies Programme and the Adult Skills Strategy.  Until 2013 David was Director of ‘Closing the Gap’ in the Department for Education, responsible for FE and Vocational Education Reform, Apprenticeships 16-18, and a range of school’s policies including the Pupil Premium and pupil behaviour. Prior to joining the civil service David was a teacher.

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