We pride ourselves on having very experienced, friendly and enthusiastic staff at The Elms. They provide a fantastically broad and in-depth education to the children at The Elms, making learning fun and inspiring.
Senior Leadership Team
Ed LyddonHead B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E.
Before working in education, I worked in the recruitment industry for 7 years, managing teams and placing people in roles in the professional and financial services. I have worked in education since 2007, when I joined my old prep school, Woodcote House in Surrey. After 8 years I moved to Windlesham House School, where I was Head of boys’ boarding for 4 years. Prior to joining The Elms I was Deputy Head at Sandroyd Prep. My wife, Hattie, and I have three children. Mimi, our eldest, is reading Psychology at the Open University and working as a TA . George is a Sixth Former at Bryanston, doing A Levels and playing 1st XV rugby. Romilly is our youngest, and a pupil at The Elms.Email Ed Lyddon
Jonathan BungardDeputy Head (Academic and Operations) and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead M.A. (Cantab)
Having been based in the South-East since starting at University, the first time I came across The Elms was shortly before the first lockdown, when news was increasingly ominous. My first wander through the website sold me an almost impossibly beautiful dream of school, yet when I came to interview it was clear that the website was not overstating the case. From the moment I was shown around, to the glorious interview in the library with four pupils and all that came in between, what shone through was the kindness of the pupils and the exceptional location.
Having now lived The Elms experience since my wife, son and I relocated from Hertfordshire in September 2020, it is everything that I could have hoped for. I have three elder children who are all boarding choristers at Kings’ Ely. My role is to help the pupils find their passions and develop them by enabling the academic and operational sides of the school to co-exist in (almost!) perfect harmony. I am hoping that 2023/24 might be the year when I am finally able to finish my M.Ed. dissertation…
I have worked with and taught prep-school aged children since 1996, first in my previous career as a professional singer and individual music teacher and then as a full-time educationalist since 2012. Alongside this, I am a passionate sportsman (although finally had to hang up my rugby boots with the move to a school which works on Saturdays) and outdoor enthusiast, a keen gardener, avid reader and an adventurous foodie!Email Jonathan Bungard
Lee CardDeputy Head (Pastoral) and Designated Safegaurding Lead B.A. (Hons), Q.T.S.
Joanna MonroDirector of Finance and Operations BCOM FCA Email Joanna Monro
Helen TaranczukSenior Master, Director of Sport and Marketing Assistant B.Sc. (Hons), P.G.C.E
I joined The Elms in 2015. Prior to this, I worked at Ribston Hall High School in Gloucester as Head of Physical Education and at Wycliffe College as a Hockey coach. I gained a BSc degree in Sport and Physical Education at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff in 2004 and then was awarded a distinction in a Secondary PGCE at the University of Gloucestershire. In my previous teaching job I taught GCSE and A level Physical Education and I was a team leader for examining GCSE PE for AQA.
As a junior, I enjoyed playing all sports but my main strength was Hockey. I was selected to play County Hockey at the age of 13 and from there stemmed a successful career playing for the West of England and getting selected for the U18 England Hockey Development Squad. I captained the senior Gloucestershire County Hockey squad and I’ve played National League Hockey for a number of years. One of the highlights of my playing career was winning the Welsh Cup and captaining my side in the European Cup in Prague in 2004. I now play Netball in a local league and I still have a huge passion for sport and all that it offers.Email Helen Taranczuk
Aurora MercerHead of Admissions and Marketing L.L.B, B. A. (Hons), Dip. Digital Marketing, Dip. Graphic Design
Having spent my teens being educated in Malvern, I could hear the Malvern Hills beckoning me to return! The Elms ethos immediately resonated with me when I came for interview, as a school where children can truly be children, where there is ample opportunity for country pursuits, and which brings out the best in every individual. It is a school with a wonderfully large heart.
As a brief career as a research scientist for the MoD, in what I sometimes refer to as my life ‘B.C.’ (Before Children!) and several years following the drum with my military husband, I began my second career in independent schools on our return to the UK. I have enjoyed over a decade working in marketing and admissions roles in Dorset and North Yorkshire and also revelled in the challenge of strategic business development for several years in Dorset and, for a brief spell, in the Falkland Islands.
With three children who are now all at university, all of whom benefitted hugely from a prep-to-13 education, it is wonderful to be in a prep setting once again, surrounded by the boundless energy and enthusiasm of Elms pupils.
When I am not at school, I love hill walking, fly fishing and rough shooting, in the company of family, friends, spaniel or ferret!Email Aurora Mercer
Widad Alami-ButcherHead of Early Years and Pre-Prep and Designated Early Years Safeguarding Lead B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E
I studied for my undergraduate degree in Education and Early Childhood studies in Cardiff, followed by a PGCE with Early Years specialism. After qualifying I spent three years teaching in Cardiff in two very different state schools, before moving to Worcestershire to start my Elms adventure. After joining The Elms I completed my Montessori training. What I enjoy most about teaching the Early Years is seeing the way the children engage with the Montessori environment, allowing them to become independent and confident learners. There is nothing like the joy on a child’s face when they are able to work something out for themselves.
I am mum to two young children. I am at my happiest spending time with my family, being outdoors and travelling and exploring new places.Email Widad Alami-Butcher
Hannah WelshHead of SEND B.Sc. (Hons) Criminology and Sociology, P.G.C.E., NASENCO Award
Growing up in Worcestershire, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying all it has to offer and happily moved back here a little while ago with my husband Steven and young daughter, Evangeline. On visiting The Elms, I was a little in awe of the setting and all it can provide to children and staff alike. The warm welcome I received on arrival cemented my feelings that I would be very happy to join the team. I have worked in education, in a range of settings, for over 15 years. Most recently as Director of Learning support at the excellent Edgbaston High school for Girls. I’m passionate about encouraging and supporting every pupil to be the best all-round version of themselves, encouraging them when working over, through and around potential barriers or challenges they may face. I am always looking for innovative ways to enhance pupil experience, reading studies and researching new theory and practice. When not working I enjoy, of course, spending time with family and friends as well as travelling, dining out and going to the gym or running.Email Hannah Welsh
Early Years and Pre-Prep Teaching Staff
Gigi CameronYear One Teacher B.Ed. (Hons)
Having graduated from Worcester University with a Bachelor of Education in Primary Art I taught in local primary schools. There I enjoyed teaching throughout the Primary age range, leading art departments and taking on the role of Head of Key Stage 1. After our first child, Mark & I had some time out on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, a truly wild and incredible place! On return, I enrolled Daisy & Hamish in Kindergarten and started teaching at a local Prep School, focussing on Early Years Education and learning about the Montessori teaching method. This, along with Art and Outdoor Education has long been a passion and an inspiration in my teaching. Wanderlust took us away from The Malverns again and I became Head of Early Years at a Prep School on the south coast. Here I introduced a Montessori curriculum from 2 ½ – 5 years and developed the outdoor learning environments. As our children moved on to their senior schools, we moved back here and I was delighted to be enticed back into a Montessori Early Years classroom here at The Elms. Working in Early Years has been a pleasure, with each day offering a unique mix of fun, awe and wonder! When away from school, I enjoy family time with the dogs, walking, gardening, eating well and playing with vintage Morgan cars.Email Gigi Cameron
Kate ClayYear 2 Teacher B.A. (Hons)
I grew up near Winchester where I spent a lot of time playing outside with my family’s Labrador in tow. Having received a lot of support and brilliant teaching whilst attending The Gregg School in Southampton, I chose to undertake a course in Outdoor Education. Upon leaving college I embarked on a career in Outdoor Education. After working in the Outdoor Industry for two years I went to university to study Outdoor Adventure Leadership, in which I graduated with a First-Degree Honours.
I have been lucky enough to work in a variety of spectacular locations including leading river-based expeditions in the Canadian Yukon, DofE and personal development courses based across Snowdonia National Park. Most of my roles have been instructional based, but I have also worked as a nanny, boarding house tutor and as a Youth Worker. Alongside work opportunities I have been on personal canoe-based expeditions across Scotland and Temagami National Park, Ontario. My personal adventures also extend to kayaking in the Julian Alps, trekking in the Dolomites and climbing in Spain. My partner and I enjoy spending time at our cottage in North Wales where we can explore the sea, rivers and mountains with our friends and family.
Email Kate Clay
Laura DuffinYear 2 Teacher B.Sc. (Hons), P.G.C.E
I was born in Bangkok and spent my early life abroad travelling with my parents’ jobs. I arrived back in the U.K. aged 5 and I went to a Montessori nursery in Sussex before heading to Swanbourne House in Buckinghamshire. I have a degree in Equine Dental Science and almost made this my career until I fell under the spell of teaching. I began my teaching as a Reception teacher at Swanbourne House before moving to coordinate maths and teach Year 2 at St. Hugh’s Prep School in Oxfordshire. I am extremely passionate about working with young children and watching them flourish. I am thoroughly looking forward to bringing my passion for teaching to The Elms. I have always spent most of my spare time riding horses competing in British Dressage and British Eventing competitions or training my working Springer spaniel. However, the arrival of our son William in 2018 meant a few tweaks to our lifestyle were required and my horses have had to take a back seat since!Email Laura Duffin
Rebecca FinneyEarly Years Montessori Teacher B.A. (Hons), Mont. Dip
I was born and raised in China, and came to the UK for University. Although planning to return home, I ended up staying in England having met my now husband while studying.
Having been bought up in the rigid Chinese education system, I was very drawn to the Montessori Philosophy when we had our first daughter. I decided to actively learn more about the philosophy purely to be a better Mum.
I was in awe when I visited The Elms Early Years for my placement. I enjoyed working with the children so much that I really wanted to be part of the team and jumped at the opportunity when it presented itself, and haven’t looked back.
I am passionate about travelling with my family, enjoying good food and I love cooking.Email Rebecca Finney
Alexandra GirlingEarly Years Teacher Mont. Dip.
I attended Rougemont Prep School in Wales, followed by six very happy years at The Royal School Bath girls boarding school, where I was Head of House. From there I moved to London to St. Godric’s Secretarial College, where I lived and worked for several years, progressing from a personal assistant role in Advertising, to a Marketing Consultant. I took time out aged 22 years to travel and work my way around the world for a year.
I then decided to pursue my dream to work with children, and attended St. Nicholas Montessori Centre in London. I have had the pleasure of working in four different Montessori educational environments, in addition to assisting in a Primary School. I have also had the privilege of working in a Therapeutic Horticultural Environment for children with severe disabilities. This helped hone my belief in the natural world as an incredible learning environment. I am married to Simon, and have two sons Edward and James. My passions are my family, the children I teach, nature…and my chickens!Email Alexandra Girling
Catherine JonesEarly Years Teacher B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E, I.M.P.
After five very happy years at Llandovery College, I studied English and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London. I then spent a year working in a Secondary School supporting teenagers with challenging behaviour as well as students with special educational needs before embarking on my journey into teaching.
Following my PGCE, I taught in Primary Schools in Swansea and Cardiff for two years and was then drawn to the child – centred Montessori Philosophy. In 2013, I found the unique community that is The Elms and haven’t looked back. Developing my knowledge through training at Montessori Centre International in London has been very fulfilling. I am passionate about the holistic Montessori method of teaching which develops a love of learning, enabling children to become more independent and self-motivated. It is such a privilege being part of this journey with our children.
I have also completed Mindfulness Teacher Training and truly believe in the benefits of Mindfulness for children, with their well-being at the core, to enable them to reach their full potential academically.
My Australian genes have instilled in me a passion for travelling. I also love music, theatre, reading and sport, particularly climbing mountains and running. Having run in multiple 10K events as well as a Half Marathon, a Marathon is next on my list…Email Catherine Jones
Bryony KirbyEarly Years Teacher MA (Cantab), Mont. Dip.
I grew up by the sea in Dorset, before studying History of Art at Cambridge University. After graduating, I moved to London and for eight years, worked at Sotheby’s as a specialist in Old Master Drawings. Although this was a magical job, when our first child was born my focus changed, and I helped to run a company which held lectures for parents with babies and small children in London galleries and museums.
My husband and I moved to Herefordshire in 2015, to take over the family farm. We worked in partnership to run the farm, until our middle child started in Early Years at The Elms, and I found myself falling in love with the Montessori philosophy, and our beautiful school.
This inspired me to become a Montessori Teacher, and after studying at Montessori Centre International, I gained my Montessori Diploma in 2019. Since then, I have been proud to be part of the Early Years and Pre-Prep team at The Elms and see the children’s learning and independence flourish.Email Bryony Kirby
Louise AllenTeaching Assistant
After studying languages at Exeter University, I began my career in London working in finance. During this time, I worked as a volunteer reader at an inner-city primary school and found my true vocation. I realised I got far more helping children reach their full potential than working on Credit Derivative Swaps! I completed my PGCE at the Institute of Education and began working in a school in Hammersmith. Since then, I have never looked back. After a couple of years, I got married and moved with my husband’s job to the South Coast where I continued teaching in local schools. Several years later, we moved to Herefordshire and I decided to take a break from teaching to raise my three lovely children. Living a field across from the Elms, I often hear the sound of the children during games and am grateful that I can be part of such a wonderful school. In my free time, I love walking the hills (occasionally running them), eating good food and generally enjoying life in Shires!
Jane BaileyGames teacher
I grew up in Herefordshire and went to school at St Mary’s, Wantage and Millfield. I represented the county in Swimming, Lacrosse, Tennis and Netball and played Tennis to a National level as a junior. I then got married, lived in Australia and had children, whilst eventing horses. I was shortlisted in Australia for both the World Championships and the Olympics. I have been at The Elms for many years. Two of my children went to The Elms and I have been coaching sport here ever since!Email Jane Bailey
Lily-Hannah BinksHead of Drama B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E.
I grew up in Derbyshire where my love for the stage since the age of 2 led to studying Dance and Drama at Edgehill University. Having toured professionally within the UK and becoming the proprietor of a dance school, I have then relished the opportunity to teach within education across Early Years, Juniors and Seniors. I have taught in both State and Prep schools: Auckland College (Liverpool), Repton School (Derbyshire) and most recently, Malvern St James Girls School, where I joined the Drama, Boarding and Prep Department.
When I’m not in the theatre or performing myself, I thoroughly enjoy travelling, baking, visiting the coast and lovely walks with our beagle, Charlie.
From the first time I came to the Elms, I was overwhelmed by the passionate and kind staff and pupils. I remember I was invited to join in a ‘typical day’. From joining-in with EYFS cross country, to the opening of ‘Pygmy Palace’ and house music (all in one day!), I felt a huge pull of energy to strive to do anything I could to be part of such a wonderfully exciting school. I feel honoured and delighted to be joining The Elms as Head of Drama.
Kate BlanceHead of English B. Ed. (Hons), Level 5/Dyslexia/SpLD, CELTA.
My connection with The Elms began in 1977 when my mother opened the Pre-Prep. Her enthusiasm for her job was infectious and led me into teaching. I trained at the Froebel Institute, part of the University of Surrey, and worked in state and independent schools in London for a number of years. In 2001 we moved to New York with my husband’s job, and on our return we decided that rural life, and The Elms was best for us as a family. I was delighted to be asked to teach at the school and have spent 15 happy years teaching English.
I am excited that I am now able to extend and develop my skills by working in the Learning Support and EAL Department, having recently completed my Level 5 Diploma in Teaching Children with Dyslexia and Specific Learning Disorders, and undertaken a CELTA course.
Outside school, I take pleasure exploring our wonderful countryside with my Labrador, Arthur, or running with friends. As a family we enjoy visits to the theatre and generally spending time in each other’s company.Email Kate Blance
Tamarin BruntonTeacher of Maths B.A. (Hons)
I have been living in Thailand working at international schools for the last 3 years with my daughter Charlie- Anne and am very excited to be joining The Elms. I graduated with a degree majoring in English and Anthropology and have a keen interest in different cultures. I have been very lucky to find my passion in education over the last few years and am looking forward to continue working with children. In my spare time I enjoy reading and leatherwork.Email Tamarin Brunton
Ana BurneHead of French
I recently moved to Herefordshire and I am enjoying getting to know this beautiful area. I grew up in Buckinghamshire, spending most childhood summers in the French Alps. I went to Reading University to study French and Business Management, spending my third year studying in the Loire Valley. My first teaching job was at Watford Grammar School for Boys, where I stayed for 10 years. I left to take up the Head of French position at Heatherton House Prep School in Amersham, where I enjoyed a different experience, teaching a younger age group. I am looking forward to getting to know all the students at The Elms!Email Ana Burne
Kate CookTeacher of Science B.Sc. (Hons), P.G.C.E.
Having taught in prep schools for nearly twenty years, when the time came to move on from Abberley Hall, I knew exactly the type of school I was looking to teach in – The Elms fitted perfectly.
With an awareness that prep schools deliver so much more than just curriculum, the opportunity to be part of another school where the whole child is nurtured, and the great outdoors is held in high esteem was a natural progression.
Having completed a BSc in Zoology and a PGCE in Secondary Science, I began teaching GCSE and A-level students. More recently, CE has been my main exam focus in school, but private coaching and online support have kept my hand in with higher level current practice.
Within the lab, my lessons are hands-on and pacey. I love teaching a subject where children can learn from doing, and I aim to develop an awareness and appreciation of science in everyday life.
I look forward to starting as part of The Elms teaching team – get your goggles on children; things are about to get sciencey!
Claire CrozierHead of Middle School, Year 5 Teacher B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E., P.G. Cert
After graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London, with a geography degree I decided to return to my hometown of Cheltenham to complete a PGCE at the University of Gloucestershire which I really enjoyed.
I have over twenty years of teaching experience, mainly in local primary schools and also in the independent sector having spent a couple of years as a form and games teacher at Winterfold House School. I completed the National Award for SEN coordination in 2012 and worked as SENCo for six years which, although was challenging, gave me a great insight into the varying needs of children and how to support them.
I love sport and have had a successful rowing career, competing at the under 23 World Championships for GB and also for England and Wales on many occasions. I have been national champion numerous times, am a Commonwealth rowing champs silver medallist and have three elite level Henley women’s wins under my belt. I was honoured to be made a life member of Worcester Rowing Club in 2010, my home club since the age of 12 and am a national umpire for the sport. After having my two children I moved on to cycling and competed at the 2017 Gran Fondo World Road Race Championships in France for Great Britain which was an experience. I’m still often to be found on my bike, in my boat or walking my Labrador, Scout, with my children.Email Claire Crozier
Cecilia DeanHead of Mathematics B.Sc. (Hons), P.G.C.E.
I gained a degree in Biological Science and then worked in the food industry for 4 years, starting as a Quality Technician and rising to a Process Manager, for a multinational company. It was not offering the challenge that I was looking for and I left industry to study for my PGCE. I have been teaching for over fifteen years now and have never looked back. I have had experience of teaching science in many different settings from standing in a field full of cows explaining digestive systems, to explaining sustainability to a room full of degree students who were my seniors. I find that teaching prep school aged children is by far my favourite age — I love the look of awe and amazement that the children have when introduced to the wonders that science offers.
Having taught Science predominantly for a number of years, I realised the joy I got from helping children with their maths and how exciting it could be, I am often to be found carrying out Scholarship papers for the sheer enjoyment and challenge it provides.
I think the most exciting thing for me about maths teaching is the difference I can make in the subject. It is actually one of the most fundamentally easy subjects the children study, the only problem they will ever have is with their confidence. As confidence increases children invariably find they can do it – I find it a joy to be part of unlocking their skills. A solid grounding in the subject will hopefully lead to a lifelong enjoyment and inquisitive nature, regardless of how strongly Maths features in their future careers.
When I am not in the classroom, I can normally be found at my stables riding horses, having competed in dressage to Advanced Medium, or training for half marathons, which I run with massive enthusiasm and a distinct lack of speed! I am so excited to be joining The Elms as not only is it in a beautiful location, but it has equine and farming facilities. I have grown up with horses and farm animals all around and I am certain it will feel like a home from home.Email Cecilia Dean
Anna EllisYear 4 Class teacher B. Ed. (Hons)
My own education started at The Margaret Allen Preparatory School in Hereford followed by seven years at Hereford Cathedral School. I enjoyed sport, outdoor pursuits, drama and music in equal measure, gaining Grade 8 distinction clarinet, and played saxophone and sang in a local jazz band.
After leaving school in addition to travelling around the world, I trained as a Beauty Therapist at the London Institute of Beauty Culture and worked in a Health and Fitness Centre, before achieving an HND in Business Studies. After completing my B.Ed(Hons) at Kingston, I started teaching in 1990 at Holmer Primary School, Hereford, during which time I gained Cert Ed Maths (Oxford), Cert Ed Geography (Warwick), teaching years 1, 4 and 6 and held post responsibility for PSHE, R.S., Humanities, Head of English, produced numerous plays and ran the school steel band. During this time, I spent school holidays running summer camps for disadvantaged children in Romania and also worked alongside social services supporting children I taught who were living in ‘Care’ and prison visiting. I later became joint Deputy Head at Holmer School before being appointed Headmistress of Haberdashers’ Redcap School, Hereford in 2000 where I remained in post for six very happy years. Here, I also taught Year 2, became Safeguarding Lead, gained ‘Outstanding’ in ISI Inspection and gained Investors in People status for the school.
After daughter Jasmine was born and taking two years out of teaching, I took up the post of Maths Lecturer and Tutor for The Robert Owen Group as a teacher trainer / supervisor, visiting schools all over the West Midlands. In 2012 I was fortunate to join The Elms, getting back to classroom teaching where my passion really lies.
Outside school, I love spending time with family and friends, enjoy renovating my home and still have a huge bucket list to tackle!Email Anna Ellis
Amy ElwinHead of Music B.Mus (Hons), P.G.C.E., DipABRSM
I enjoyed an idyllic childhood on the beautiful Isle of Man where I attended The Buchan School and King William’s College. My time outside of school was predominantly spent singing, riding and running wild on the hills and beaches, although not always at the same time. I studied music at Royal Holloway, University of London, where I was also a choral scholar. Upon graduating, I took up a post at the specialist music school, The Purcell School, where I worked as an Assistant Housemistress, Practise Supervisor and music theory tutor. I moved to Tudor Hall in 2009 where I was Deputy Housemistress, taught music up to A Level and gained my PGCE. It was here that my love for overseas expeditions began and I have since taken students on expedition to Morocco, Bolivia, Zambia and Botswana where we have trekked for days and completed community projects such as making bricks for school buildings and building greenhouses on the barren flats of La Paz. I moved on to a large state secondary school, St George’s School, Harpenden, where I spent five fantastic years in the music department, as a form tutor and in charge of overseas expeditions.
Outside of education I have sung professionally, recorded for disc, radio and film soundtracks and toured with performers such as the tenor Russell Watson. I have also launched wellbeing choirs for a cancer charity, directed church choirs and worked with youth choirs.
I have recently relocated to Herefordshire with my husband who is an opera singer. When music isn’t taking centre stage I love riding, baking and exploring the countryside with our loveable labrador, Lyra.Email Amy Elwin
Emma GreenYear 5 Teacher B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E.
I have worked in education since 1994. I began my teaching career at Warwick Preparatory School working with Year 1 pupils. I then moved to Birchfield Preparatory school for boys, teaching throughout the Key Stage 1 and Early Years departments. It was here that I participated in the full Prep school experience, even teaching rugby during Year 2 games sessions! I moved to Abberley Hall in 2004 with my two young daughters. I predominantly taught Reception and also held a number of management roles, including Head of Pre-prep for 8 years. During my time at Abberley I ran the School Holiday club programme which was available to all children between the ages of 3 – 13. My own girls have benefited from the wonderful Prep school experience at Abberley before moving onto Malvern St James. As they are now away at university, I have time to enjoy singing at festivals and local events as a member of a choir, running, reading and walking with Henry, my wire haired dachshund. I am very excited to be part of The Elms as it is such a charming and unique school.Email Emma Green
Kevin HanrattyHead of History B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E.
I started teaching in 1990 as a History & Games teacher in a state secondary school in Hereford, so it’s a little like returning to my teaching roots joining the Elms!
I have worked in Prep schools since 2000 as a Head of Pastoral Care, Head of Year, Head of Humanities and as a humble History teacher. I have always been heavily involved in teaching Games and love nothing better than getting my boots on in the mud.
After many years playing rugby at a variety of levels I am now very much an arm chair fan of the Ospreys and Wales. Most of my spare time is taken up with our family and my baby granddaughter to whom I am ‘Bampi’.
I am very excited to become part of the Elms family in what will be an exciting future.Email Kevin Hanratty
Mimi HarburnTeaching Assistant
I was born in Leicestershire far too many years ago. I then lead the life of a nomad, living in Australia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Belgium and The Netherlands. I was educated in Kuwait and at various Prep and Boarding schools around England. I have lived in Herefordshire for the last 16 years and have been lucky enough to work in two charming schools, Pencombe Primary and now The Elms.
On leaving school I attended Eastbourne College of Food and Fashion. Following this, I studied at Cheltenham College of Art and then Plymouth College of Art and Design, where I attained a diploma in mixed media with metals.
My working life began in dress design, before moving into catering. In this field, I have worked in France, New Zealand, London and Herefordshire.
A husband and children changed things and in 2008 I began working at The Elms. Initially I helped in the Early Years and more recently I have become one of the Librarians and a Classroom Assistant. My two girls, Isabella and Evie, began their Elms lives in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
I am a true countrywoman at heart; born and raised in rural Herefordshire to a life of rural pursuits. My early years were idyllic, with a menu of ponies, Labradors and plenty of mud. My parents instilled in me traditional country values, a love of literature, music and home grown food. We have a menagerie of animals at home including sheep, chickens and ponies and I like nothing more than a day in the garden or a ride with the children by the river.Email Rose Hickman
Henry LambHead of Geography B.Sc. (Hons), P.G.C.E
I have been teaching Geography since 2008 and I strive to inspire children to connect with the natural world around them. Prior to joining The Elms, I taught in a London prep school. I am a keen tennis player having also run a tennis school. Cricket is my other summer pursuit. I play for the MCC and I have been called on as a warm up bowler for international matches. I also enjoy shooting and the countryside having been brought up on a farm. I have a passion for geography, love of sport and character building in children. I have a wife called Caroline and three young children called Cleo, Levi and Tarka.Email Henry Lamb
Emily MorrisHead of Classics B.A. (Hons); P.G.C.E. Classics
I grew up in County Durham, for those in the know it is indeed a hidden gem of the UK with incredible countryside, beaches and a few power stations thrown in for luck! We moved to Worcestershire in 2011 and immediately felt at home in the beautiful surroundings that the county has to offer. I have taught Classics at prep and senior and visited the Elms on many match days, marvelling at British Camp looking down on the site. Classics has long been a passion of mine, one I studied at University and I take great interest in dragging my family around various ancient locations on holiday. I strongly believe that Classics has its place in the classroom to aid how pupils think and learn and it also allows them to explore and marvel at the mythology and history that our society has grown from.
Outside of the classroom you’ll find me wandering the countryside with my spaniel (Bertie) and two small children (Beatrice and George). I’m a keen runner and have run multiple half marathons in the past few years. I bake for enjoyment and the staff may even benefit from a few sweet treats in the staffroom from time to time.
Paul NolanHead of Science B.Sc. (Hons), P.G.C.E.
I grew up in Worcester, so I am delighted to have returned to the area after 30 years away, especially as my parents still live here. I attended Worcester Technical College, where I gained a love of the Malvern Hills through countless glorious Geology fieldwork trips to the locality. I then studied Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter and later completed my teacher training at what was Worcester College of Higher Education (while a gap student at a boarding school for dyslexic boys). Having developed a love of the boarding ethos, my first permanent post was Deputy Housemaster and Teacher of Science at a state boarding school in Surrey, based in the splendid Gatton Park. This role evolved into Head of Careers and Work-Related Learning and eventually led me into taking on the post of Head of Work-Related Learning at a state school in London, alongside a science teaching role.
A change of career direction took me to Lincolnshire, to Witham Hall Preparatory School, where I spent 19 happy years as Head of Science and Head of House. After a brief foray back to teaching secondary school Science, I could not resist the opportunity to join the Elms, returning to the sector and part of the world I love the best.
I am joined by my wife, Ursula, and daughter Arabella, along with three dogs (two Shih Tzu and a somewhat larger rescued Romanian Sheepdog). We love exploring the countryside and British heritage.Email Paul Nolan
David PearceGames Teacher B. Ed. (Hons)
The first time I had the good fortune to step onto The Elms beautiful site was as a potential Director of Studies back in 1995 and within minutes I had realised there was something about the place that was utterly unique. It was possibly the sight of half a dozen children, carrying pieces of pig board, ushering a couple of Gloucester Old Spot pigs across a football pitch. The games lesson was still in progress but the players just ignored the porcine invasion as if it were just the norm! That was over 27 years ago and having taken up the role as Deputy Headmaster in the late ’90s, retired in the summer of 2020, returned to the school as a coach of Under 9 games, supply maths teacher and part-time minibus driver and more recently I have had the privilege and honour to be an interim Co-Head of the school whilst a new Head was found. Now Mr Lyddon has arrived, I have returned to work in the games department.Email David Pearce
Beverley StokesHead of Art and Design Technology B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E
After studying at Davenant Foundation Grammar School, where I grew up, I followed an Art Foundation one year course which led me to study for my BA Hons Degree in WMCP (Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics) at Brighton University. I was lucky enough to stay in Brighton for a further year to complete my P.G.C.E. which enabled me to launch into my life long career in teaching.
Over the course of too many years to mention, I have worked in a variety of educational establishments, with a broad age range of children, in both the state and independent sector. This has enabled me to gain valuable knowledge and understanding of teaching approaches which I bring to my current role.
I took a break in my career to start my family and with my husband’s work we moved from Cambridgeshire to Herefordshire. We have spent nearly 20 years living and working in this beautiful area where I can indulge in my interests of gardening, walking and popping on a train to see amazing exhibitions held only a stone throw away.Email Beverley Stokes
Boarding and Matron team
Kate MaloneAssistant Matron
I grew up in a small town in Ireland and studied Fine Art in Dublin before moving a few years later to London to train as an Art Therapist. I worked in adult mental health services and palliative care for 10 years before working in two special schools (a primary and a secondary) for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties for 14 years. I have always loved working with people and particularly enjoy the liveliness and curiosity of children.
We moved to Colwall in 2019 and I joined the Board of Governors at Colwall C of E Primary when my daughter was in year 6.
Joining the Elms is a bit like coming back to my roots. I spent my secondary school years in a boarding school and had the opportunity to make great friends that I am still in touch with. I grew up in a large family and am very comfortable with a busy, bustling and energetic environment. I am looking forward to my time at The Elms.Email Kate Malone
Courtney SmedleyHead of Boarding B.A. (Hons)
Before I arrived in England, my main interest was surfing but since this is slightly more difficult to do in Hereford I have taken up crafting. I am passionate about crafts such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, calligraphy and anything that I can get my hands on. Another interest kindled on my arrival to the UK was Special Educational Needs. I believe that all children should be given the space and time to learn, process and thrive. Adapting learning styles and settings to suit each child is a challenge that I will always strive to meet. I have recently completed my TEFL course, which has enabled me to teach EAL lessons.Email Courtney Smedley
Danielle TusonAssistant Matron
Sarah Watson-ArmstrongHead Matron Registered General Nurse
I was brought up in Twyning, Gloucestershire and had by secondary education in Malvern before heading to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge to complete my Registered General Nurse training and staffing on Childrens Ward there. I then married and moved up to Northumberland to the family farm, raising three children and running a holiday cottage business. Over the years I have done some District Nursing Practice and then on moving back down to Worcestershire, I began School Nursing in Independent Schools in the area and have been doing so for the past 16 years. I really enjoy the enthusiasm and vitality of working with young people, no day is ever the same in a school environment so keeps life very interesting. I am very much looking forward to my time at the Elms, working alongside colleagues, parents and of course the entertaining young people.
When not working, I can be found running over the Malvern Hills – that is my wonderful playground . My three children and four Grandchildren all live in Northumberland and so I spend as much time as possible doing my Grandma duties with them. My fiancé, Hew and I and live in Upton upon Severn.Email Sarah Watson-Armstrong
Joanna CobbAdmissions and Marketing Manager
I grew up in Herefordshire and have remained here working as an entrepreneur and business owner, having set up my first fledgling business aged 20. My property and agricultural enterprises include an estate and letting agency; an agricultural merchant advising farmers on soil nutrition; a farm plus a property development company with a wide range of renovation projects and luxury holiday homes. I recently retired as Chair of the Board of The Courtyard Trust after six years immersed in culture and the arts, particularly improving accessibility for people with dementia and in education.
After happily choosing The Elms as the best school for our children, I now enjoy supporting other families considering The Elms for their children. It is an incredible school, where children get to enjoy a true childhood here and blossom in this glorious educational setting where family values are deeply embedded, and they can explore both their independence and their individual talents.
Helena GrantHeadmaster’s Secretary
I re-joined The Elms in September 2014 having left in 1987. My background is in the wine trade, having worked in sales and customer service for 16 years, I decided to give up the joys of wine tasting and trips to vineyards, to be rooted to Colwall and The Elms, a school I love a bit too much! I have two daughters and an estate agent husband. When not at school I love walking on the Malvern Hills, listening to and playing music, cooking and travelling whenever possible.Email Helena Grant
Helen HitchingsAccounts B.A. (Hons), Dip. R.S.A.
I joined The Elms in 2013 having worked for a number of businesses across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. As a keen gardener and animal lover The Elms is the ideal place to be – beautiful grounds, a busy farm and equestrian yard and a dog-friendly workplace!Email Helen Hitchings
Hattie LyddonEngagement Manager Foundation in Art
I have worked in prep schools for the last sixteen years, starting out teaching art and swiftly moving into the boarding and pastoral side. The Elms is our ‘4th Chapter’ having worked at three schools previously, all of which have been boarding prep schools. I tend to muck in wherever is needed and have turned my hand to most things over the years! Outside of school my other passion is art and drawing, I love nothing better than a vast blank wall on which to create a massive mural or pencil drawing furry friends! Both myself, Ed and our three children are thrilled to have moved to Colwall and we are privileged and proud to be part of the Elms Family.
Riding and the Outdoor Staff
Rosie BarrattYard Manager BTec
I have lived in the beautiful county of Herefordshire all my life. I went to Hereford Cathedral School before joining Hartpury College to complete my BTec Extended Diploma in Equine Management with Equitation. During the holidays I worked full time at Jack In The Box Nursery. I have grown up in the heart of the country side, where I was fortunate enough to buy my own horse called Roo, who will be joining me at The Elms along with my beloved dachshund Mojo. I am really looking forward to joining The Elms full time where I can combine both my love for horses and working with children.
Sarah HanceEquestrian Manager BHSAI, APEC
I have worked in the equine industry for a long time, having started off doing veterinary nursing then moving to equine nurse.
Whilst doing this I found the love for eventing, so I then moved to this full time riding a string of horses up to Advanced Level.
After getting married and having 3 boys I moved to Coaching where I did my BHSAI and have been coaching since then, covering all levels, Two years ago I did my APEC course which is Rider Psychology which I find very helpful.
I am chief instructor of the CVFH Pony Club and also train my Mounted Games Team.Email Sarah Hance
Paul SmedleyFarm Manager & Head of Rural Studies B.Sc. (Hons), P.G.C.E
I grew up in the Natal Midlands of South Africa where I attended a prep school very similar to that of the Elms called Clifton. I then spent five years of senior school at Michaelhouse, after which I studied at Rhodes University where I majored in Geography and Environmental science as well as obtaining my PGCE. After playing Provincial and University Cup rugby I decided I wasn’t quite finished playing the sport and thus dragged my wife over to London to pursue it further for what was meant to be just one season! We however caught the travelling bug and both realised that teachers’ holidays were by far the best opportunity to explore Europe and thus three and half fond years were spent at Shrewsbury House School in Surbiton. After leaving Shrewsbury House Courtney and myself went travelling for a year which proved a hugely eye opening and enriching experience. My passions in life other than my beautiful wife Courtney and my slightly psychotic dog Khaya, are my faith, being outdoors and of course playing or watching sport.Email Paul Smedley
I joined The Elms from Sedbergh School, which is also where I was educated. I spent just over three enjoyable years at Sedbergh working as a part of the Grounds and Gardens Team and I have brought this knowledge and expertise to The Elms School. Away from work I have a keen interest in most sports having played rugby, football, cricket and athletics.Email Dan Tuson
Lee AylingHead Chef
I grew up in the seaside town of Cleethorpes , where my passion of catching and cooking fish and crustations sparked my passion and enthusiasm to become a Chef.
Fuelled also with the knowledge from the matriarchs of my family, I joined The British Army as a chef where I served in a number of amazing (and some not so amazing places), using ammunition tins as an oven to fine dining.
Through the military I gained all the NVQS relevant to associate myself to a Head Chef role.
After 24 years in various settings of the catering world, my excitement now is passing all the knowledge and skills I have gained on to people, through cooking demonstrations to talking about healthy eating to molecular gastronomy.
Outside of my role I am a keen at keeping extremely fit from triathlons to trail half marathons.
Susan PageDining Room Assistant
I have lived in Herefordshire all my life, growing up in Bosbury. I moved to Bromyard almost 40 years ago with my husband Martin and we have 2 daughters, Amy and Nicole. I started working at the Elms in September 2021 and previous to this have worked in various hospitality roles. My longest role was at the former Malvern Girls College, now Malvern St. James, where I worked for 19 years. I left to have our second daughter Nicole, then making a career change to make curtains, blinds and soft furnishings. Martin and I have our own touring caravan in which we enjoy taking long weekends and holidays in. I also enjoy sewing, walking, swimming and cycling in my spare time.
Andrew WilliamsAssistant Chef
I have lived in Ledbury for over 30 years working in varied establishments until I found my passion for cooking. I have worked at the school for around one year starting with the kitchen assistant job and then becoming a cook helping the head chef prepare the food on a daily basis. Before I came to the Elms I worked in a care home feeding the staff and residents. In my spare time I love cooking for friends, gardening and cycling.
Carol DanceDomestic Staff
I have lived in the area for many years and have been involved with The Elms over a period of around 30 years. Part of my job here allows me to be very involved with Early Years which I absolutely love. I live with my pets, Bella, Tom, Tigger and George, and very much enjoy taking Bella, my puppy Shitzu, on long walks. Apart from walking I also enjoy going out with friends and visiting National Trust properties.
Jennifer MatthewsDomestic Staff
I have been married to Terry for 31 years and we have two children now in their twenties. I have lived in Frome’s Hill all my life and started at The Elms in 2003, Prior to working at The Elms I was a Carer in Pencombe Hall. Terry and I love to walk and are members of the National Trust, and we also love travelling and staying in our accommodation in Wales. I am a keen darts and crib player and in the past I was a blue belt kick boxer!
Sonya McMannDomestic Staff
Before coming to work at The Elms I was employed as an electronic engineer in Oxford where my husband to whom I have been married for 30 years was stationed with the RAF. I live in Ledbury now and we have two children, both of whom have flown the nest!
My husband and I love to travel and walking our dog, Alfie, and I have fond memories of many happy hours spent Ballroom dancing particularly Latin (eat your heart out Strictly!) We are also volunteers for the ARUK, Alzheimer’s Research UK.
I have been happily employed at The Elms for last 14 years and have the enjoyed the experience of working with three Headmasters.
I have lived in Herefordshire all my life. I’m from Bromyard originally, but moved to Ledbury with my partner Michael nearly 2 years ago.
At home I enjoy gardening, cooking, music and playing the drums, which I have recently taken up. I also enjoy travel both at home and abroad with Iceland being one of my favourite places to visit.
James RoseChairman of Governors
James grew up in Herefordshire and, having moved back to his home county, is a parent of happy children at The Elms. He has spent his career in the investment banking industry and has also been involved in the education sector, both as a volunteer Governor of an all-through school in NE London, and in assisting the build of an advisory business focused on parent needs within the space.
Neil BaldwinVice Chairman of Governors
Neil was born and bred in Worcestershire before reading Economics at Durham. Whilst maintaining a part time role as a Senior Underwriter at a Lloyd’s of London syndicate, he manages a diverse portfolio of family business interests which include property, agricultural, leisure and estate management. He also contributes to the local community both as a coach at the local rugby club and serving as a town councillor. Neil is a current Elms parent to three children.
Ben EvansChair of the Education Committee
Ben was born in Devon and brought up on Dartmoor. After reading History and Archaeology at Exeter, followed by a PGCE, he has taught in a variety of independent day and boarding schools. His first Headship was at the British School in Colombo, Sri Lanka followed by 8 years at Edge Grove School in Hertfordshire. During this time he was a parish councillor and Trustee of the Spiral Partnership Trust of 6 primary schools. Ben, his wife Alex and two sons moved to Windlesham House School, West Sussex in September 2020.
Hannah was born in the USA before returning to the UK with her parents as a young child. She attended Cheltenham Ladies’ College and then undertook degrees in English Literature and Theatre Studies and Arts Administration and Cultural Policy.
She began her professional life as an agent for classical singers, conductors and stage directors in London. Subsequently, she trained as a lawyer and currently works for Charles Russell Speechlys in their Tax Trusts & Succession team.
Hannah has a daughter at The Elms and lives in Colwall where she is Chair of the village’s sustainability group, Colwall Greener, and a member of Colwall Orchard Group.
Mr M. J. Gilliat-SmithGovernor
Mathew grew up in Kent and spent his early career in London before moving to the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire borders in 2004. His career has been in publishing, print and running new technology businesses. In the last 20 years he has focused on the media and entertainment sector marketing security solutions to the Hollywood film studios. His three sons were pupils at the Elms over a 12-year period from 2004 to 2016.
Dan GrahamChair of Finance Committee
Dan is a current Elms parent. He and his family relocated from London to Worcestershire so that their youngest daughter could join The Elms. Dan read History at Kings College London before starting work in the City where he trained in accounting and financial analysis. Dan has spent 23 years in investment banking and asset management analysing investments for pension funds and managing portfolios for institutional investors. He is the principal of an investment fund which he founded.
Lady S. McFarlaneSafeguarding and Head of Welfare SMG M.C.S.P., D.L.
A physiotherapist working part time at Bromyard Community Hospital; mother of 4 former Elms pupils; Governor Rugby School, 2004 – 2014. Several other voluntary roles over the years connected with the magistracy, law and order, the church and education.
Mrs A. M. MillikenGovernor B.Sc.(Hons.)
Alex grew up in Worcestershire and attended Malvern Girls’ College, before gaining a degree in Equine Science. She spent 17 years working in Marketing within the education, retail and insurance sectors. Most recently, Alex ran the Marketing Department at Malvern St James.
Alex is married to Andrew, they have 2 children at The Elms and live on the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border, along with their 4 horses and 2 Labradors.