Long-serving governor who helped found independent school nearly 30 years ago calls it a day

Ian McCreath and Tim Manning. Ian McCreath is to retiring as Chair of Governors from Longridge Towers
Ian McCreath and Tim Manning. Ian McCreath is to retiring as Chair of Governors from Longridge Towers

LONGRIDGE Towers chairman of governors Ian McCreath has stepped down after an association with the school dating back nearly three decades.

Mr McCreath has been a governor since 1982 when as a parent he received a letter stating that Longridge, then a convent school run by the Ursulines, was to close.

Immediately Mr McCreath,long with a number of other parents and lay staff, decided that they would to try to save the school.

They invited all parents to a meeting and formed a steering group which in the summer of 1982 offered £400,000 to purchase the estate.

The offer was accepted, a charitable company was immediately formed and a fundraising campaign launched. The school opened its doors with 115 pupils in September 1983 with Dr Michael Barron as its founding headmaster.

Mr McCreath said: “The school remains greatly indebted to the first chairman, Jim Stobo and Dr Michael Barron who was head for 22 years.

“Without their hard work, total dedication and foresight, Longridge Towers School would not have survived the early years.”

He was appointed chairman of governors in March 2000 and during his term of office, much has been achieved both educationally and physically, including the construction of the extremely attractive and functional Stobo Building.

He said: “Although I am very sad to be leaving as a governor after serving for so long, now is an entirely suitable time for a change of chairman.

“I know that I am leaving the school in extremely capable hands and at a very exciting time in its history, with a comprehensively strong management team and board of governors possessing the whole range of the skills necessary to run such a large organisation.”

He added: “I attended my last event as serving chairman of governors last Saturday evening for the school’s final production of the musical ‘Annie’ at The Maltings.

“This outstanding performance was a credit to every member of the cast and the production team. It epitomised everything that is good about Longridge.

“I was immensely proud of my association with the school that evening - a fitting way to bring my term of office to a conclusion.”

Tim Manning, headmaster, said the school was indebted to Mr McCreath for the dedication and support he has given to the management over so many years.

“I personally would like to thank him for his invaluable advice in assisting me and the management team in the process of restructuring the school,” he said.

At the Annual General Meeting, John Smithson was appointed the new chairman.

Mr Smithson was a Longridge parent between 1985 and 1995 when his three daughters were pupils.

John has lived in the Borders since 1985 and most recently has been responsible for raising £5m for the restoration of Dewar’s Lane Granary in Berwick and managing the project up to construction stage.

A governor since 2009, John said: “I want to build on what has been achieved in the first 28 years and work with the senior management team to consolidate Longridge’s reputation for delivering a first-class all-round education; to continue to increase numbers insofar as practicable; deliver new science facilities and do all this while safeguarding and consolidating the school’s financial position.”