Our Lady Of Furness Catholic Federation

Our Lady Of Furness Catholic Federation

Lovingly we Learn in Harmony

  1. Federation
  2. Governors
  3. Governor Profiles

Governor Profiles


Mary Page.

Category of governor: Foundation Governor/ Chair of Governors. 

Term of office: 24 February 2023 - 23 February 2027. 

Work: Retired.

Governance experience:

I was a governor of my children’s primary school in Bolton during the 1990s.

Associated to the governing body when I was a deputy head teacher in Preston.

Governor of St Bernard’s Catholic High School where I was headteacher.

Worked for the Cumbria Learning Improvement Service where I advised and supported governing bodies across the West of the county.

 Hobbies and interests:

Walking, reading, knitting, singing and more recently, cycling, learning to paint and looking after my two grandchildren.

Links to the school/area:

I live in Baycliff and attend St Mary’s Church in Ulverston. I was head teacher at St Bernard’s Catholic High School and have taught in Catholic schools for 20+ years.

 Why did you become a governor? To support Catholic education in the area.  

Isabel O’Donovan.

Category of governor:  Foundation Governor / VIce Chair of Governors.

Term of office: 28 June 2019 - 26 June 2023.

Work: I have been a full-time GP working in Barrow for the past 20 years.

Governance experience: I have been a foundation governor at St Mary’s prior to the Federation and have now been a Governor in the Federation for the past 3 years.  I am also a parent Governor at UVHS. 

Hobbies and interests: I enjoy cooking, travelling, my 5 children and 2 dogs.  I am trying to get better at Orienteering – a sport my children all love!  

Links to the school/area:  My children all went to St Mary’s  - a total of 35 children years! I have lived near Ulverston since we moved here in 1996 and worked in Barrow all of that time. 

Why did you become a governor?   

I come from a family of teachers and head-teachers so passion about education seems to be in my genes. I want young people to be ambitious for themselves; to have opportunities and aspirations and to be confident that they can find a place for themselves in a very difficult and fast-changing world.  Our education system, primary and secondary, has a vital role in that development and I love playing a very tiny part, trying to make sure it is as good as it can be. 


Rebecca Whyte

Category of governor: Parent Governor for St Mary’s Catholic Primary School

Term of office: 6 October 2021 to 5 October 2025. 

Work: Raising Standards Leader at Furness Academy Barrow.

Governance experience: This is my first role as a school governor. 

Hobbies and interests: I enjoy exploring the Lake District with my husband, daughter and family dog Walter. My hobbies include running, wild swimming and managing a local book club.

Links to the school/area: I was brought up and educated in Furness and returned to the area in 2018 to take a teaching post at a local secondary school. My daughter attends St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

Why did you become a governor? I became a Governor when my daughter joined the school as I wanted to contribute to the wider life of the school and my local community. My role within secondary education means that I have a professional interest in learning more about school governance and the ways that governors can support the federations that they serve.

Neil McLaughlin Cook.

Category of governor: Foundation Governor.

Term of office: 9th September 2022 to 8th September 2026.

Work: Retired (University Registrar).

Governance experience: I served two terms as Foundation Governor at St Anthony of Padua Catholic Primary School, Liverpool, and one term as an elected Staff Governor at Liverpool Hope University, the only ecumenical Christian University in Europe.  I am currently a Trustee of Furness u3a.

Hobbies and interests: Walking [I regularly lead walks for several walking groups]; photography; theatre; gardening; cryptic crosswords and Sudokus.

Links to the school/area: I have lived in Ulverston, close to St Mary’s school, since 2018; two of my nieces attended Our Lady’s school in Dalton; I am a Reader and a Special Minister at St Mary’s church.  I am also Secretary of Furness u3a, a volunteer steward at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston, and a volunteer guide at Dalton Castle.

Why did you become a governor?         To help support and guide our schools through these challenging times.

 Laura Byrne

 Category of Governor: Headteacher. 

 Term of office: 1 January 2021 - until employment with the school ends. 

 Work: St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

 Governance experience: 2 years as Staff Governor and 1 year on sub- committee (Staffing and Curriculum). 

 Hobbies and interests: Spending quality family time, camping, live music, theatre, dance, swimming (including wild swimming) and education. 

 Links to the school/area: I have 2 children that attend St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. I have taught at the school since September 2018.

 Why did you become a Governor? I became a Governor when I took on the role as Deputy Head. I wanted to gain further insight into the governance of the school and Federation. 

Bernadette Charnley

Category of governor: Ex officio (Acting Headteacher)

Term of office: 1 September 2022 - 

Work: I have been a teacher for twenty years, eighteen of which were spent at St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Ulverston.  I became Acting Headteacher of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary School in September 2022.

Governance experience: This is my first experience of being on a governing body, although I have worked closely with governors throughout my time as a teacher.

Hobbies and interests: I play the piano and sing and love attending live music events.  I enjoy reading and pretending to be a chef!  Few things make me happier than spending time at home or on days out with my husband and two children.

Links to the school/area:  I moved to Ulverston in 2004, taking up my teaching post at St. Mary’s.  My eldest child left St. Mary’s in 2020 after seven successful years, and my younger child is currently in Year 2.

Why did you become a governor?  

I have a passion for education and care deeply about our federation schools and Catholic education in general.  Being a governor will give me the opportunity to be part of a positive driving force that will ensure the best outcomes for all of our children.


Samantha Friars

Category of governor: Staff Governor

Term of office: September 2021- July 2025

Work: St Mary’s Catholic Primary School

Governance experience: 1 year as staff governor completed

Hobbies and interests: Reading, hiking, boxing and theatre

Links to the school/area: Trainee teacher/Senior teaching assistant.

Why did you become a governor?

I became a governor so that I could learn more about how a school is structured. I also wanted to do this role to gain more insight into the running of our federation and be able to support the staff overall. This is also a great contributor to my own professional development too.      


Rachel Jewell

Role: Clerk to the Governors.

Work: I have worked as Clerk for the Federation since 2016. I also work as Clerk for other Catholic primary and secondary schools in the Furness and Millom areas. 

My role is to provide procedural, legislative, administrative and organisational support to the Governing Body to ensure that they are meeting their statutory duties and working in accordance with legal frameworks.

My previous work experience includes sales and sales management with local and regional newspapers including Cumbria Newspapers and the Manchester Evening News. 

 Hobbies and interests:

I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, cinema and music. 

 Links to the school/area:

I have lived in Ulverston most of my life and have two children, one of which currently attends St. Mary’s school. 

Paul Lewis.

Role: Business Manager.

Work:  I began working for the Furness and Millom Catholic Primary Schools Cluster in January 2019. Prior to that I spent well over 20 years working in the public sector, most recently for Cumbria County Council, Children’s Services.

The key element of my role is to ensure good financial management across the cluster, establishing efficient and effective systems and procedures to ensure best value is obtained while maintaining a high quality learning environment in each school. As part of the schools’ leadership team I have lead responsibility for strategic planning, decision making and policy setting in financial and related matters.

Hobbies and interests: I am an avid fan of most sports and music. I enjoy travelling, learning about different cultures and trying different cuisines, particularly anything spicy!

Links to the school/area: I have lived with my family on Walney for 15 years (my wife originates from the area).