Viv Hughes – Member

Viv has a passion for the innovative education of SEND and SEMH children and young people. Since becoming a Parent Governor 11 years ago, Viv has gained extensive expertise and widespread knowledge and experience of governance. As a Chair, she has grown and led school governance to Ofsted ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ ratings. Her leadership philosophy ensures that all governors are very knowledgeable and highly competent to thrive without her at the helm. Viv was appointed a NLG in 2015. Viv was an All-through MAT Trustee before resigning to focus on BEST. Any spare time is devoted to gardening and house restoration.

Carrie Irvine – Member

Carrie has held a number of senior leadership roles, including Executive Director of Operations for Scope, the large national disability charity and Chief Operating Officer for Ambito, an Independent provider of services for Adults and Children with complex, health and learning disabilities including pre-school, education and fostering.

She has extensive experience of leading national portfolios through organisational transformation and improvement processes and enjoys building high performing teams.

Carrie is also an Independent member of an Audit and Risk Committee for the charity, Signhealth and in her spare time she enjoys the demands of her small holding which includes 24 animals, travel and relaxing with her family.

Mark Merriam – Member

Mark qualified as a solicitor in 1982. He became a partner of the firm now known as Ashtons Legal in 1989 and has been with them for more than 30 years specialising in Dispute Resolution. He was managing partner of the firm between 2001 and 2010 and Chairman between 2011 and 2018. He became a governor at Riverwalk in 2017 before becoming a member of BEST in January 2019. He is now semi-retired and using his spare time to try and improve his golf handicap.

Stephen Watts – Member

Steve has been working with children, young people and families in the public, charitable and faith sectors since 1993. He currently leads on safeguarding and data protection for a multi-academy trust, which includes primary, secondary and special schools. He is also a governor at two of the schools within the trust. Steve has a calm approach, which couples a keen eye for detail with the ability to think strategically. In his free time, he enjoys making music; playing the clarinet, guitar and singing at the church he belongs to.