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Biographies - Trustees

Debbie Fleming OBE (Chair) - Foundation Trustee

Debbie Fleming retired at the end of March 2022, having been an NHS Chief Executive for 21 years. Her most recent role was that of Chief Executive for University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust – a new organisation established in 2020 following the merger of Poole Hospital and the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals. Debbie successfully led this merger to establish one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, with a turnover of almost £700 million and employing 10,000 staff. Under Debbie’s leadership, the Trust was successful in securing over £200 million capital funding from Treasury, which is now being used to redevelop three hospital sites, thus enabling the reconfiguration of acute hospital services across Dorset.

Debbie has held a variety of senior leadership roles within the NHS both within the hospital and the community sector.  She spent fifteen years as a Primary Care Trust Chief Executive, including leading Hampshire Primary Care Trust, the largest PCT in the country.  Debbie has also held the post of Area Director (Wessex) for NHS England, responsible for overseeing the planning and delivery of health services for the people of Dorset, Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Over the years, Debbie has gained significant experience of strategic planning, strategic leadership, mergers/acquisitions, organisation change and organisation development.  Debbie is committed to learning, and throughout her time in the NHS, has always prioritised developing people.  She also fully understands the importance of effective partnership working and as such, has developed considerable skill in working with others to deliver complex change.

In January 2022, Debbie was awarded the OBE for services to the NHS.

Debbie currently chairs the Performance and Standards Committee and is Lead Trustee for Safeguarding.

Geoff Bates

Geoff has worked in marketing and communications for over 20 years, running marketing departments in both large and small companies in the financial services and legal sectors. Working in senior roles in regulated industries has given Geoff extensive experience of what good governance looks like and how it benefits the running of complex organisations.

Prior to being appointed as a Trustee, Geoff spent 8 years Chairing the Local School Committees at four different schools within the Trust. He has also been involved in supporting the wider aspects of Trust governance such as recruitment of Head Teachers and representing Local School Committees at Ofsted inspections.

Geoff currently chairs the Growth Committee.

Clive Bath

Clive was a community Governor and vice chairman of the Sir John Colfox school/academy from 2010 to 2016. He previously attended the Alfred Colfox School in Bridport

Prior to retirement, Clive was the Chief Executive of the King Edward VII hospital in Marylebone, Deputy CEO of Nuffield Hospitals Group, Director of UK consultancy for International Hospitals Group and previously ran two central London NHS teaching hospitals.

Clive was elected chairman of the Minerva Learning Trust on its establishment in 2016 and was appointed Trustee of Initio Learning Trust in February 2023 as Minerva joined with Initio.

Clive sits on the Growth Committee and is Lead Trustee for Careers.

Hilary Evans

Following a successful career as a school and local authority leader, Hilary now works as an Independent Education Consultant and Adviser. Her experience in mainstream and special school leadership roles as SENCo, Headteacher, Ofsted Inspector, School Improvement Partner and Local Authority Strategic Lead underpins her focus on school improvement and the opportunities provided for every child and young person. She currently coaches school leaders across the UK, leads training in school governance and acts as a national adviser in respect of special educational needs and inclusion. Hilary is also an Independent Advocate supporting vulnerable parents as they navigate court and other legal processes.

Hilary sits on the Performance and Standards Committee, Growth Committee and Resources Committee.

Noel Harrison (Vice-Chair) - Foundation Trustee


Noel has spent the majority of his career in senior finance & commercial roles in global companies ranging from Cleaning to Technology to Drinks, starting in the City of London and living in Russia, the USA and Italy along the way.

He came with his family to Wimborne in 2008 to work as CFO & Executive Director at Condor Ferries, and to invest more time in the education of his 4 children who between them attended 3 WAT schools.

Since 2016 Noel has worked as a Director of SIL, a US-based Language Development non-profit organisation that works with minority language communities worldwide, in Bible Translation and Literacy & Education, helping those communities flourish through their own languages.

In addition to SIL Noel has since 2016 been able to invest time in supporting Education in Dorset, he is a Director of the Salisbury Diocese Board of Education, Chair of Governors at Beaucroft Foundation School. 

Noel currently chairs the Resources Committee.

Stuart Ingram

Stuart works as a Regional Director at United Learning, the largest Academy Trust in the country. He has worked for United Learning since 2015 where he started at Glenmoor and Winton Academies in Bournemouth and works with 12 academies in the South and North of England. Stuart has extensive MAT-level secondary educational expertise and an impressive track record of school improvement. He is also a serving Ofsted inspector. Stuart's interests outside of work include coaching at his local cricket club and being an active parent for his three children.

Patricia Mackenzie


Patricia is an executive director with more than 20 years’ experience in the financial sector. She worked for Willis Towers Watson, a large global advisory, broking, and solutions company for 11 years, holding senior business and corporate roles. Most recently, Patricia was the Group Head of Enterprise Risk Management, with responsibility for the implementation of a robust risk management framework and risk governance across the entire group.

Prior to joining Willis Towers Watson, Patricia worked as management consultant, specialising in change management and operational transformation projects in the UK and internationally.

She is currently providing risk advisory services to a fintech start-up insurance company.

Patricia sits on the Resources Committee.

John Miller - Foundation Trustee

John has worked in the manufacturing sector for 30 years working in various companies from large multinationals to smaller local family-owned businesses.  Roles within these companies have included project, supply chain and operations management.  Since 2019, John has moved into consulting, providing organisations with expertise in continuous improvement making tomorrow to be better than today.  Time is split between working with commercial and charity organisations.  Part of this includes managing operations at The Lantern Church, Merley, two days per week.  In the past John has been a churchwarden (trustee) of the Lantern church which is part of Canford Magna Parish.

He lives in Merley with Mandy his wife and can be often seen out walking their cocker spaniel or on the golf course.  They have 3 children, all of whom once attended Initio schools and have now grown up and fled the nest.

Richard Purchase - Foundation Trustee

Having qualified initially as a pharmacist, Richard spent the first c20 years of his career in the healthcare sector before moving into education in 2006. Since then he has held a number of board-level leadership and governance roles in education companies, school groups and individual schools. He is currently Chair of Governors of St George’s CE Primary School and Chair of Trustees of St Georges Pre-School Langton CIO in Langton Matravers.

He lives in Purbeck with his wife Alison and their two dogs. They have 4 children and one granddaughter. Outside of family and Purbeck, Richard remains a committed hockey player, and has represented England Hockey Masters at over 50 and 55 levels, and has just ‘graduated’ to the over 60s.

Richard sits on the Performance and Standards Committee and is Lead Trustee for Inclusion.