Meet the Governors

Background Information on the School Governors:


Mr John Gibson

 I have recently retired after a ‘lifetime’ of work in Local Government, most recently working for North Kesteven District Council.  I was educated at Spalding Grammar School, followed by seven years at University, then a career in Environmental Health at various locations across the UK.  I have two grown up children and a wife who was a teacher before retiring in 2014.  I am so fortunate in being able to give time to the Pilgrim School.  It is such an important school for pupils who, for whatever reason, deserve our special attention and support.  I was initially appointed as a governor on the staffing committee in October 2013, before being elected as Chair of Governors when Mike Thornalley stood down in April 2015. 

 My experience in Local Government enables me to bring management, finance and health and safety skills to the school.  I aim to contribute effectively to its leadership and ensure the governing body’s contribution to school improvement.

Mr Pete Banks

 I retired from the Royal Air Force in 2004 after 25 years as initially aircrew and then as an Administration Officer.  I then transferred to the Royal Air Force Reserves as a Senior Operations Officer on a Harrier squadron on a 2 year contract.  I was the Bursar at Kesteven and Grantham Girls School (Grammar) for 3 years prior to re-joining the Royal Air Force Reserves again as a Senior Operations Officer. I managed the personnel close down when the aircraft was withdrawn from service. I finally retired in 2012 and now work as a part time freelance photographer and designer.

 I was educated at Blundell’s School, Tiverton, Devon, Manchester University and postgraduate at Didsbury College of Education.

 I have 2 grown up children.  I am married to Sue, who stoically created 15 happy homes as we moved with the RAF.  Although this precluded any formal career, she is now a locally know artist.

 My mother was a Deputy Head and I trained as a teacher, although the RAF intervened before I could practice the profession. Going back as a Bursar felt like a natural progression and my current involvement with the Pilgrim continues my association with education.  I am glad the Chairman asked me to become a governor.  Right from my first contact with the school I have been so impressed by the total dedication of the Head teacher and the staff at all levels of the school.  Their selfless professionalism in making the lives of our wonderful children significantly better by their sympathetic and compassionate touch is inspirational.  I feel privileged to be of service.

 My work in the RAF and as a bursar have given me the following management and personal skills; recruitment, public relations, budget planning and accountancy, organisation, presentation, health and safety, estate management, leadership training, IT infrastructure and web management, contract management, security, commercial activities, strategic planning, senior management experience.

Mrs Julie Bembridge

 I was born in Derbyshire, but have lived in Lincolnshire for all but the first five years of my life. I was educated at secondary school's in Holbeach and Sleaford. Went on to spend 36 years working in the NHS in a variety of different roles that introduced me to the head teacher of the Pilgrim School, as we were both part of the Tackling Teenage Pregnancy Partnership Board, which for me saw the introduction and implementation of Teenage Advice Centre across the county. During my career in the NHS I worked in a variety of different roles, including patient contact and user involvement, became a service manager with resourcing responsibilities and a large budget to manage. During the last 7 years I was the recruitment services manager, this required me to provide advice on policies and procedure, bank and agency staff, volunteering and work experience placements. Therefore my experience enables me to share the knowledge and skills gained about procurement issues, budget management, safer recruitment, training issues and the wellbeing of a happy and healthy workforce. 

Mrs Jo O’Neill

 I am Head of English and Humanities at The Pilgrim School and have been in post since January 2015. I have twenty-six years of teaching experience, having taught in London, North Yorkshire, Southern Africa and for the last fifteen years in Horncastle in Lincolnshire. My experiences have been varied and exciting, ranging from an inner city secondary modern to an independent boarding school, a government boarding school in Botswana and a grammar school. I also worked part-time in a Special School when my children were babies and I am delighted to be back in Special Education again and working in this fabulous school.

Mrs Sue Morrison

 I am currently employed by Lincolnshire County Council as a Practice Supervisor within their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Team for the Boston and South Holland Locality. This means I oversee a small team of staff who are responsible for supporting the transfer of statements into Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs), writing new EHCPS and dealing with complex matters relating to the education of pupils with SEND in our locality, such as consideration of medical funding, support when a pupil is excluded, increase in funding, requests for changes of placements to name a few. My short term wider remit is to support the Special schools in transferring the statements of their pupils into EHCPs. 

Prior to taking on this role in April 2015 I had been the head teacher at John Fielding School, a school for children with severe and profound learning difficulties in Boston, for 11 years. During this time the school moved from undersubscribed and unsatisfactory to over subscribed and a good school. Pupils had a wide range of opportunities including trips in the UK and abroad, performing at the Young Voices concert with 5000 Primary school pupils in Sheffield, performing at the Schools Shakespeare festival in a number of theatres around the county, putting on their own fashion show and working towards their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. We were the first special school in the County to achieve the Gold ArtsMark Award and our Governors were the first special school governors to achieve Governor Mark.

Prior to this I had worked for 12 years at St Francis School, in Lincoln, a school for pupils with physical and medical difficulties. I taught the Nursery/Reception class for many years before becoming Assistant Head and Inclusion co-ordinator. As Inclusion co-ordinator I was able to support main stream schools in their work with pupils with physical difficulties. I have also taught in mainstream schools both in England and Germany.

In my personal life I have a partner, 4 children and 7 grandchildren. I am a Scouter with responsibility in Boston District for supporting Leaders who are undergoing training and within both the District and the County supporting the Special Needs remit. I am an active member of the Boston Preservation Trust and sit on the Civic Group which debates planning and other issues affecting the town. In what time I have left I am furnishing a Victorian dolls house and finding miniature sewing and knitting an exciting challenge!

Mr Tony McCarthy

I am grandfather to a pupil at The Pilgrim School, to give something back to the school that has got my granddaughter where she is today I put myself forward to be a school governor. I have worked for my current employer for over 12 years, I am a surveyor and I believe I have a keen eye for detail as I have to take critical dimension before communicating this information to my colleagues so they can place production orders for our clients. My job as a surveyor is nationwide and I frequently have to work away from home. What spare time I have is usually centred around our 8 grandchildren. I understand that the responsibilities of a parent governor is to act always in the best interest of the school and its community, and will endevour to put as much effort into the role as possible to maintain a supportive environment. Learning about the education system will be something new to me but I believe the special status of The Pilgrim School is helping its pupils to achieve their full potential academically, and also develop fully in their community and society as a whole. As a parent governor I would be able to raise issues or questions which other parents may put forward.

Mrs Susan Waring

I am an elected member of North Kesteven District Council and of Leasingham and Roxholme Parish Council. My involvement with The Pilgrim School came through the Sleaford Rotary Club of which I am President Elect.  I have been employed as a Probation Officer and as a Senior Social Worker specialising in child abuse investigations.  I enjoy the opportunity to identfy and encourage young peoples special talents and skills.

Mr Neil Blackwell

 I left the Royal Air Force in July 2015 after serving nearly 28 years in the role of Personnel Support and worked for 10 months as a Special Educational Needs Assistant Caseworker for the Local Authority.  I took the opportunity in February 2016 to move across to working within a school setting and applying the skills that I have and knowledge gained to benefit The Pilgrim School.  I am employed within The Pilgrim School as a Community Liaison Manager.  I hold an MSc and BSc (Hons) in Psychology which I studied for whilst serving in the RAF.  I am thoroughly enjoying working within the school and am keen to learn more about SEN in particular autistic spectrum disorder.







Latest News

Dogs For Good - Family Dog Service for Parents and Carers of Autistic Children aged 3-16

Kate Easton - Training Department Support Officer @ Dogs For Good

I am writing from the Family Dog service at the assistance dog charity Dogs for Good. This service is for parents and carers who have a child with autism between the ages of 3 and 16, who are either looking at getting a dog or who want to train their own pet dog to help their child. The service consists of 3 workshops followed by unlimited email and phone aftercare.


London Trip - Educational Visit

An educational trip to London was organised and offered out to all pupils in base. It was an overwhelming success with pupils and staff indicating that they really enjoyed it and that they got a lot out of it. This has involved 40 of our pupils some of whom have never been to the capital. It had been an enormous undertaking and a huge thanks goes to CN and BL and everyone who pulled together to make it happen. It was simply brilliant to observe our young people meeting, travelling, sharing experiences etc. showing true resiliance and demonstrating how far they have come from their individual starting points with us.

Celebrating Success - News about past pupils!

A pupil MG, who attended the Louth group, has been in touch to pass on her thanks to the school as she has just been offered a place at Bristol University to study Criminology.

HB from the Lincoln base has been offered a place at Nottingham Trent University to study Music Production.

EB formerly of the Boston base is now a Case Support worker.

Well done everyone. News about past pupils is always the best news!

News about past pupils:

A pupil, CS, who attended the Lincoln base has been voted apprentice of the year at Lincoln College.

JJ from the Louth base is actively engaging in his placement.

KK, also from the Louth base, is successfully accessing his CLIP placement.

AS from the Sleaford base has successfully completed a work placement as part of her college course and this has led to her being offered a part time job.

Kinema in The Woods School Trip - Ralph Breaks The Internet

We had a very successful cinema trip with over 70 pupils and staff in attendance.  Pupils and staff were treated to a showing of 'Ralph breaks the Internet', the sequel to 'Wreck It Ralph'.  Everyone, of all ages, really enjoyed the film, even though some of the oldies did not understand what half of it was about!  The pupils were amazing and represented themselves and the school perfectly. 

Kinema in the Woods outside view