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Board of Governors

Wrexham Glyndwr Board of Governors

Introducing Glyndŵr University’s current board of governors:-

Neil Ashbridge

Neil Ashbridge

Appointed September 2015

Neil Ashbridge was born in Yorkshire, was brought up and educated on Merseyside and has lived in Wrexham since 1992. He retired in June 2015 as the Agent in Wales of the Bank of England having joined the Bank in 1973 and having spent 16 years in London undertaking a range or positions covering banking and market operations and international monetary institutions. His role as Agent for Wales involved his assessing business conditions in Wales and providing monthly updates for the Bank’s policy committees.

Neil has extensive experience in the delivery of public services and his high level and strategic thinking has been a key part of this work and in other appointments undertaken outside the Bank. He  has held a number of voluntary positions including Deputy Treasurer on the University of Liverpool’s Governing Council and President of the Institute of Bankers Liverpool District.  He remains a member of a number of Committees and Boards including the finance committee of Liverpool Cathedral and the Oxford University Business Economics Forum. He was recently appointed as Vice Chairman of Disability Sports Wales and as member of the Board of Cartrefi Conwy.

Paul Barlow

Paul Barlow

Appointed November 2016

Born on the Wirral peninsula Paul enjoyed a 26 year career with Barclays Bank before joining Avox, now a wholly owned subsidiary ofthe Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC).

The last 10 years of his career with Barclays was in change management culminating in leading cross functional global change programmes with annual budgets in excess of £5 million, reporting at Board level. Paul successfully delivered programmes included back office centralisation, process outsource/ offshoring, transformational front office change, payments, risk and HR change initiatives.

Paul joined Avox, based on Wrexham Industrial Estate, as its 46th employee in 2006, and has since played a key role in growing the operation to its current headcount of 550, with further growth forecast through 2016/17.

In his role as Avox Chief Operating Officer and DTCC Wrexham Site Lead Paul commits time and energy to building strong external relationships with local business and education leaders, championing DTCC as an employer of choice in the Wrexham area.  He is a firm believer that having a strong FE and HE sector in the locale is absolutely key to supporting business growth and is keen to provide whatever support he can to growing Glyndŵr’s business and capability in the near and medium term.

Travis Davies

Travis Davies

Appointed July 2016

Travis Davies is originally from South Wales. He moved to Wrexham to attend Glyndŵr University in 2012 where he undertook a BN (Hons) Nursing (Adult) degree which he completed in 2016.

Travis was initially elected in 2015 as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Officer for the Students’ Union. Travis ran in the Students’ Union elections for 2016/17 in which he was elected as vice president and he was subsequently elected as Students’ union President for 2017/18.

Travis is committed to representing the student voice during his time in post.

Celia Jenkins JP

Celia Jenkins JP

Appointed May 2015

Celia Jenkins was brought up in Cheshire and has lived in North Wales for over 25 years. She read Modern Languages and Linguistics at Cambridge University. Her professional background is in marketing and communications. She was a self-employed consultant to international business information providers for several years; more recently she has been concerned with fundraising and development in the educational sector.

Celia sits as a magistrate in North East Wales, is a member of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee for Clwyd and is on the management board of various local not-for-profit organisations. In 2013 she was High Sheriff of Clwyd.


Barrie Jones

Barrie Jones

Appointed November 2016

Barrie Jones is Editorial Director of NWN Media, where he has overall responsibility for overseeing the editorial development of the company's daily title The Leader along with its fourteen weekly titles across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.

A Philosophy graduate, he started his journalistic career as a news reporter more than thirty years ago.

In the 1980s he spent time working with the then independent North Wales Weekly News group as a News Editor and then for a period with Thomson Regional Newspapers as an Editor at Chester.

He returned to NWN in 1989 as Editor of the broadsheet weekly Wrexham Leader before being appointed Assistant Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of the Evening Leader.

He has in recent years been closely involved in creating a new multi-platform newsroom. He joined the family-owned company’s board of directors in 2010. 

He was recently involved in developing a pioneering training course for journalists with Wrexham Glyndŵr University. The NCTJ accredited course was the first partnership of its kind in the UK between a news organisation and an academic institution. 

He was made an Honorary Fellow of the University in 2010 for his services to journalism and education. He is also a board member of the Society of Editors.

Professor Sandra Jowett

Sandra Jowett

Appointed May 2016

Born in St Asaph and educated in Wales, Professor Sandra Jowett was a senior manager and strategic leader in both the public and private sector for more than 25 years. She led research teams at the National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales, focusing on the impact of national policies on individuals and communities. 

She has also worked in four universities leading a range of learning and teaching, research, knowledge transfer and corporate service functions and retired recently as Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria. She has served on a variety of national advisory committees and boards concerned with health, research and education and is currently Vice Chair of the National Open College Network and a Non-Executive Director of the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Entering university as a mature student, Sandra is very personally aware of the transformational power of higher education and is fully committed to the delivery of high quality learning, teaching and research.

Angus Hamill-Stewart

Angus Hamill-Stewart

Appointed July 2017

Born in London and living most of his life in Southampton Angus Hamill-Stewart came to Glyndŵr University to study business at  undergraduate level in 2015. Whilst studying he became involved in the student union through, first, becoming a trustee for the Students’ Union and securing the post of equal opportunities officer.

Taking part in and later leading the Sci-Fi society alongside his work with the Union led to his election as Vice President of the Glyndŵr Student Union.

He took office in July 2017 on a mandate of protecting the students within the university, promoting engagement and supporting the student societies. 

Gill Kreft

Gill Kreft

Appointed January 2017

Gill Kreft is a well known figure in the business community of North Wales and a highly respected Chartered Accountant. She established the pioneering Pendine Park organisation with her husband, Mario Kreft MBE, in 1985. They now employ more than 800 people at seven care and nursing homes in Wrexham and a centre of excellence for dementia care in Caernarfon along with  an in-house training company, the Pendine Academy, and a domiciliary care company, Independent Living. The golden thread running through Pendine Park is their award-winning enrichment programme which put the arts right at the centre of how they improve the quality of life for residents and also the staff looking after them.


Gill champions the importance of the social care sector as a positive economic driver and also played a fundamentally important part in helping Pendine Park and Independent Living achieve IIP Gold. In addition, she has played an integral role as a director in the growth and development of Disclosure and Barring Services Ltd which specialises in CRB and other vetting check and is now the seventh largest organisation of its kind in the UK.


Gill works hard to promote the links between education and the worlds of business and industry to foster a seamless progression through school, further and higher education through to the world of work.She is passionate about the value of professional training for businesses, especially giving young professionals and entrepreneurs the necessary skills to succeed.


Gill practised for many years as a Chartered Accountant as a partner and director she steered the firm toward Investors in People Gold. She is a passionate advocate of the value great business advice can play in helping businesses grow and prosper and continues to play an active role in the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.


In addition, she is a founder member and chair of the influential Wrexham Business Professionals group which is made up of highly skilled professional firms and other businesses working together with business to raise the profile of expertise and enterprise that exists in the region and beyond, with the ultimate aim of powering regional prosperity.


In her spare time, Gill enjoys adventure holidays like gorilla trekking and is also a great lover of the arts in general and opera in particular.


Paul McGrady MBA CPFA

Paul McGrady

Appointed May 2016

Paul has lived in Wrexham since 1977 and attended what was Yale sixth-form college, prior to going on to work for Wrexham County Borough Council and training as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant.

He worked for Stoke City Council and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council as Head of Programme Co-ordination and Chief Accountant respectively. In 2005 Paul moved to Denbighshire County Council as Head of Finance and Assets where he managed the Council’s financial affairs, its property portfolio of business units, land, farms, public buildings and offices and was head of the Council’s housing department. During this time he also worked on a number of high profile projects including construction of a new harbour and bridge in Rhyl and a new hotel and restaurant development.

In June 2015 Paul took up the role of Director of Resources at Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, a registered social landlord that manages 6,300 homes in North West Wales. His responsibilities include finance, human resources, ICT, legal, governance and audit.

Tim Mitchell (Co-opted member of the Audit Committee)

Tim Mitchell

Co-opted member of Audit Committee

Appointed September 2015

Tim was born in Wrexham and has lived here all his life with the exception of a three year period spent at the University of Sheffield, to study for an Honours Degree in Mathematics.

Following University Tim started his ACA training with a Shropshire based accountancy practice in 1995 and later joined a national accountancy firm operating from South Manchester where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant. In 2000, he joined McLintocks and became a partner in 2006.

In 2010 Tim headed up the opening of McLintocks’ third office in Wrexham but also looks after an established client base in Chester and Wirral.

As well as dealing with general accounting and tax compliance matters, he has extensive experience in new business startups, corporate accounting, internal and external audit including foreign group audits, charity and religious organisations and solicitor account rules.

Tim is a director of the newly formed North Wales Crusaders Rugby League team. He is also a member of Wrexham Round Table No 305, a member of the Wrexham POETS BNI Chapter, the Honorary Secretary of the Chester & North Wales Society of Chartered Accountants and member of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Judy Owen

Judy Owen

Appointed 1st May 2016

Judy moved from the South of England to North Wales with her parents when she was 13. She was educated at Denbigh High school up to ‘A’ level before embarking on a career in Finance.

She joined Pilkington P.E. Ltd in St Asaph (now Qioptiq) in 1973 as a trainee accountant qualifying in 1979. During the next 20 years, she progressed through the finance department in Pilkingtons to Site Accountant. After 26 years in Pilkingtons (in 1999) she took an opportunity  to expand her knowledge and moved to Euro DPC Ltd, a medical Diagnostics company based in Llanberis which was the European manufacturing location for the DPC group whose parent company was based in Los Angeles.

A year later she was made Finance Director and as part of the management team drove the expansion of the company by circa 20% per annum for the next 6 years.   Euro/DPC Ltd was taken over by Siemens in 2006 and in 2008 she was part of a small team that was instrumental in the transfer of manufacturing from the parent company in LA which more than doubled the size of the Llanberis based company which now employs circa 450 employees.

In 2012 Judy was given responsibility for the Finance department in LA (approximately 150 staff remained in LA producing critical raw materials for the site in Llanberis) and over the next 3 years travelled regularly to LA to align the budgets and reporting processes with those she had developed in Llanberis.

Judy retired at the end of November 2015 after 42 years of working in both Pilkingtons and Siemens during which time she has built up a substantial knowledge of business and finance.

Judy is married with 2 grown up sons and has lived in St Asaph for over 30 years.

Maxine Penlington OBE

Maxine Penlington OBE

Appointed as Chair of the Board, December 2015

Maxine was born and raised in North East Wales. She retired as Chief Operating Officer of Birmingham City University in 2013 and has 33 years’ experience of higher education management and governance.

Her professional career has been spent wholly in the post-92 sector of higher education, actively concerned with the growth and development of maturing institutions.  Additionally, she served for 12 years until 2004 as a governing body member of a sixth-form college, the last 9 years as its Chair, supporting its development into a larger and more broadly-based tertiary institution.

Maxine’s responsibilities and experience have encompassed institutional planning and strategy, corporate resource and budget planning, marketing strategy and market positioning, estates rationalisation and new campus planning, and leadership of the professional services. 

Governance was a core element of her responsibilities as Secretary to two higher education governing bodies between 1987 and 2009. She has experience as both Secretary and Board member of steering formal constitutional change, the development of governance policy and practice and of developing Board effectiveness.  Latterly, as Secretary to the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) from 2009 to 2013 she was involved more widely in promoting high standards of corporate governance in UK universities.

Maxine was a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) for the10 years to 2013, a founder member of the Board of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator from its creation in 2003 until 2009 and a member of the Higher Education Regulation Review Group from 2004 to 2008. 

Maxine was awarded the OBE for services to higher education in the 2014 New Year Honours list.

Professor Norman Sharp OBE

Professor Norman Sharp OBE

Appointed October 2012

As former director of QAA Scotland, Norman Sharp was responsible for the development and implementation of QAA’s policy and practice in Scotland, through the board’s QAA Scotland Committee. In this context, he played a major role in the development and implementation of the Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework – a framework which binds quality assurance and enhancement closely together involving extensive student participation.

Originally an academic economist,Norman’s interest in quality assurance and enhancement was stimulated by his roles in curriculum development and course management for ‘traditional’ higher education students and also in the context of wider patterns of provision. Norman was an assistant director in the Higher Education Quality Council prior to taking up his former appointment.

Normanhas had extensive international involvement in quality matters including work inSouth Africa, Ireland, Namibia, Luxembourg, Serbia and Albania. He has also been a consultant on quality matters to a range of employers and professional regulatory and statutory bodies. In 2006 he was the chairman of National Health Serivce (NHS) Quality Improvement Scotland, the body responsible for the assurance and enhancement of NHS provision in Scotland. Norman was awarded the OBE for services to higher education in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List.

Norman Sharp is an honorary fellow of Glyndŵr University.

Askar Sheibani

Askar Sheibani

Appointed January 2016

Askar Sheibani is the Chief Executive of the Comtek Group which has its Head Office in Deeside.

An entrepreneur from age 8 Askar created Comtek over 25 years ago in a garden shed. The Comtek Group now has offices in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Deeside, Reading, and Belfast and has recently expanded to Silicon Valley, USA through the acquisition of Sorrento Networks a leading telecoms R&D and manufacturing company. Comtek has seen an impressive growth rate recently. It has created outstanding, cutting edge, world class telecommunications technology centres.

Askar has been appointed by the Business Minister to promote entrepreneurship and business start-ups in Wales. He has been business advisor to the Secretary of State for Wales and various other UK Government Ministers. Askar is founder and Chair of Deeside Business Forum.

Dr Colin Stuhlfelder

Dr Colin Stuhlfelder

Appointed March 2016

Elected ‘Teaching’ Staff Governor

Colin is a Senior Lecturer in the Built Environment at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, and has been Programme Leader for Architectural Design Technology since 2014.

Colin’s background is in architectural studies and he holds a masters in art history and theory and a PhD relating the social impact of HIV on communities in the UK.

Prior to joining the University, Colin worked across various housing and construction related roles, including delivering social housing and community buildings as part of the Halsall Lloyd Partnership of architecture in Liverpool, at the Race & Housing research project in the University of Manchester, and working on challenging estates in North Liverpool as part of the social housing provider Cobalt Housing.

At the University the team Colin is part of has delivered housing strategy across North Wales and down to the South Wales Valleys and he has spoken on issues ranging from anti-social behaviour to tackling issues relating to the sustainable use of resources at national and international events.

Colin is currently working on projects relating to Building Information Modelling, housing stock conditions, and developing new material relating to architectural visualisation, and conflict & architecture.

Outside of the University Colin is a Board Member with Riverside Mersey North, a social housing provider working in some of Liverpool and the North Wests most challenging estates, and has previously chaired two North West HIV charities. He is also an avid if not necessarily very fast runner, and has to live with two judgemental cats; neither of whom approve of the running, but will occasionally watch a film with him.

David Subacchi

David Subacchi

Appointed September 2016

David Subacchi is a published writer, magistrate, chartered surveyor and former UK Government senior civil servant. He has almost 40 years’ experience dealing with property matters in the Valuation Office Agency where his last ten years before retirement in 2014 were spent in various Director roles. These included responsibility for strategy, policy making, leadership, change management and operational delivery as well as advising Ministers and other civil servants. He had shared responsibility for up to 5000 civil servants in some 80 locations nationwide.

David is currently Chairman of the Central North Wales Bench. He is a former member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee in North Wales where he dealt with the recruitment and selection of Magistrates. He is the current Chairman of the Denbighshire Bench and a member of the Welsh Bench Chairmen’s Forum and the National Council of the Magistrates Association.

A member also of the Wales Board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) David has lived in Wrexham for 29 years and is a fluent Welsh speaker. He has been continuously active in local education both as secondary and a primary school governor since 1989.

In his spare time David is one of the organists at Wrexham/s St Mary’s (RC) Cathedral and he enjoys the cultural and Arts scene in Wrexham and the surrounding area. He has four published collections of poetry in English and also writes in Welsh and Italian.


Professor Maria Hinfelaar

Professor Maria Hinfelaar

Professional career

On 1st April 2016, Maria took up her post as Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive at Wrexham Glyndŵr University. She is a Dutch national who has spent a significant number of years living and working in English-speaking countries.

At Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Maria aims to drive up student numbers and deepen links with industry and the community, in line with the Strategic Framework adopted by the Board which positions WGU as the anchor institution of and for North Wales. She also has ambitions to expand enterprise, innovation and incubation facilities offered by the University. She sits on the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, the Mersey-Dee Alliance Board and the North Wales Business Council. In addition, she is the Universities Wales nominee on the board of the UK-wide Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

Maria joined the University after a successful tenure as President and Chief Accounting Officer of Limerick Institute of Technology in Ireland. She oversaw significant development of the Institute, increasing enrolments to nearly 7000 students and adding campus locations in Limerick and Tipperary. Similar to WGU, LIT offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the domains of Art and Design, Business, Social Care, Sport, Tourism and Hospitality, Science, Engineering and Information Technology.

In her previous roles both in Ireland and The Netherlands, Maria secured substantial funding from various funding agencies and industry for access projects, teaching and learning innovations and for applied research and she is confident that the potential exists within WGU to achieve successes in these areas too.

Education and publications

B.A. (Hons) Degree in English Language and Literature, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

M.A. Degree in Modern English and American Literature, Leicester University, UK.

Post-Graduate Certificate in Education, Leicester University, UK.

Ph.D conferred in 2004, published as a book entitled Key Success Factors in International Retailing, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Maria is a graduate of the UK Leadership Foundation Top Management Programme and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

She has published various articles in journals on the subject of international retailing; in her early-stage career she wrote Business English textbooks widely used throughout Dutch further and higher education. Her recent international research publications cover Irish higher education policy and collaborations, alliances and mergers in the sector.

Another point of note: Maria is a keen cyclist who took part in road races in Belgium and Holland over many years. She enjoys exploring the beautiful scenery of North Wales on her racebike, joined by her husband Graham.

Vincent Ryan LLB (Co-opted member of the Nominations and Governance Committee)

Vincent Ryan LLB

Appointed January 2015

Co-opted member of the Nominations and Governance Committee

Vincent Ryan was born and educated in Wrexham. Having achieved a law degree at University of Wales, Cardiff he joined Allington Hughes Solicitors as a trainee in 1981 and was admitted as a Solicitor in 1984. He rose to Partner with Allington Hughes by 1988 and remained there until 2009 specialising in a number of areas including; employment law, criminal law disability rights, personal injury, commercial contracts and civil litigation.

During his time at Allington Hughes he worked part time as an employment judge (2002 – 2009). He is a trustee of a number of voluntary organisations and private trusts including chairman of trustees of the Charles Lloyd Foundation and the Wrexham Diocesan Child Protection Management Committee.

Vincent studied for an MA in Healthcare Law & Ethics at Manchester University graduating in 2009. In the same year Vincent was appointed as a salaried Employment Judge of the Employment Tribunals (England and Wales) assigned to the Manchester and Liverpool Region



Emma Perrin (Co-opted member of Audit Committee)

Emma Perrin

Appointed May 2016

Co-opted member of Audit Committee

Emma Perrin is a Director at Guy Walmsley Limited Chartered Accountants in Wrexham and an alumnus of Wrexham Glyndŵr University. Born in Wrexham, after school Emma studied International Business Studies at Liverpool John Moores University, but having realised that was not the career for her, she took a gap year and returned to education studying at Wrexham Glyndŵr University’s predecessor NEWI, where she achieved a 2:1 in Business and Finance.

Emma joined Guy Walmsley and Co. in 2002 as a trainee accountant, gaining her professional ACCA qualifications to become a qualified chartered accountant in 2005. After five years she was offered a partnership with the firm and helped navigate the firm to become a limited company in 2012. She has significant audit experience, and is responsible for staff development and governance within the firm.

Emma also has experience in the voluntary sector and with the limited amount of spare time that she has, she has a keen interest in baking and cooking and spending time with family and friends.




Lee Robinson

Lee Robinson

Appointed March 2018

Lee Robinson was born in Yorkshire and moved to Chester in 1994.

He studied at the University of Liverpool where he obtained a Masters in Public Administration and Management and a Degree in Law.  Lee then worked at management level for Mouchel and United Utilities for a number of years.  In 2009 he was appointed as Strategic Director for Wrexham County Borough Council and is now their Executive Director for Place and Economy.

Lee holds a number of national and regional responsibilities, including Chair of the Area Planning Board, Local Government lead on the North Wales Safer Communities Board, HMP Berwyn Executive and Chair of BIM Wales. 

Lee is passionate about leadership and behaviours and is always keen to learn and develop new skills. 

Lee is married to Cathy and has two children, Isaac and Charlotte.  He has a great enthusiasm for the outdoor life and can often be found cycling around the roads of Wrexham and Chester or climbing in Snowdonia.

Brian Everett (Co-opted member of the Human Resources Committee)

Brian Everett

Appointed September 2016

Co-opted member of the Human Resources Committee

After a year in Malaysia working for Voluntary Services Overseas Brian started his career as a town planner in Local Government. He then spent 30 years working for the University and College Union (UCU) previously the Association of University Teachers (AUT).

Having joined as a Regional Officer for the North West Brian progressed his career to Assistant General Secretary with responsibility for Northern England, Northern Ireland and national action. In the last ten years with UCU he was also their European and International Officer. His work brought him into contact with a diverse academic community in universities and involvement in a wide range of activities such as collective bargaining, case work, monitoring of university policies, climate change and campaigning against trade in education at both local, regional and national levels.

From 2009 to 2015 after early retirement from UCU, Brian worked as an independent  employment relations consultant. Alongside his work he also held a non-legal judicial appointment in the Employment Tribunals from 1983 to 2016.