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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Roe

Claire Wood - May the longtime sun shine upon you

Two weeks ago Claire Wood and I visited all 9 Thrive schools in a two-week period. Claire calls it her grand tour. For Claire, it was one small way of walking the corridors of our amazing schools one last time.

At Chiltern Primary we met Lucky the therapy dog! What an impact a canine can have.

At Ings Primary Lucie Garrod impressed with her obvious pride for the direction of travel the school is on, as Rachel Seddon coached phonics provision and Stuart Bell got busy with Year 6 and their arithmetic.

At Kelvin Hall School we did that thing that Heads of School dread - tour the school during lesson changeover. Chris Leng, Pat Cavanagh, and the KHS team were brilliant.

At Newland School for Girls, Claire was bowled over by the So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye rendition by members of the choir - to Vicky’s clear delight.

Oldfleet Primary Junior Leadership Team spoke passionately about the numerous ways pupils have a say in the way the school behaves and acts; great pupil agency.

Priory Primary was similar. The two head girls had so much to say, and so much pride to express, we only got around KS1 in our allotted hour.

Sidmouth Primary were so proud of all that has happened in their school in recent times, from the EYFS outdoor/indoor provision to the KS2 library.

At St George’s Primary Louise Oddy dipped out of her Cradle to Career training to speak powerfully about the way the school nurtures each child and has made such strong progress in girls’ maths attainment.

At Stepney Primary Jo Atkinson’s pride in the improvement in writing standards across the school was evident, as was the children’s work - beautiful content and beautiful handwriting wherever we went.

It was a truly memorable week. And I thank all who took part. Here is Claire’s final message to us as Chair of Thrive.


I have mixed emotions as I step down from my role as Chair of Trustees and step up completely to the role of Member. I feel real pride for what we have achieved collectively over the years, firstly with Sarah Smythe at the helm and latterly under Jonathan’s inspirational leadership steering us to be a united, supportive, proactive, friendly, inclusive, and successful Co-operative Trust. Despite the challenges faced in the communities we serve, our staff find creative solutions when confronted with obstacles on a daily basis. They are agile and versatile and it was a pleasure for me to see genuine loyalty and pride in being part of Thrive, on my tour of the schools last week. Long may this continue to flourish.

I have really enjoyed being part of Kelvin Hall, then YHCLT and now Thrive. Of all my retirement voluntary roles, being associated with this Trust has been the most interesting and personally rewarding. Continuing as a Member will permit me to see the organization continuing to thrive but without the same time commitment.

But it is time for me to move on and to pass the baton of leadership from a position of strength. Steve Jones and I have complemented each other over the past years; for he is everything I am not – a parent, grandparent, adoptive parent, foster carer and a Special Guardian. So, there is little he has not faced in raising children. He is married to a retired teacher and is an accountant by profession. And on top of that, he is a member of the Twitterati, which will please Jonathan no end. I know that the Board and the Trust will go from strength to strength with his wise head, big heart and experienced hands. I am delighted that Helen Cooper is taking on the role of Vice Chair and I envision another complementary and successful partnership developing there.

Finally, a big thank you at the end of another year to all of our staff, Governors, Trustees and Members, who play their parts with energy and loyalty. And a special thank you for all the beautiful bouquets of flowers, gifts and kind messages as I move on. And so..

“May the longtime sun shine upon you,

All love surround you,

And the pure light within you,

Guide your way on”.

I will miss you all.



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