Board of Governors

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The Governors at St Hugh's play an important part in the running of the school. Members of the Board of Governors can most easily be contacted via the Clerk to the Governors, Mr Alistair Hamilton, Bursar and Company Secretary of St Hugh's. The Chair of Governors can be contacted directly by email or by writing c/o St Hugh's, Carswell Manor, Faringdon, Oxfordshire SN7 8PT. 


Mr Neill Lawson-Smith, Chair 

Neill Lawson-Smith is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and Chartered Engineer. He qualified in Birmingham and founded his IT practice in 1989, of which he is still Managing Director. Neill has been Managing Director and Angel Investor of several IT related businesses, as well as having taken senior positions with local charities/organisations. His career has been focused on consulting and advising a wide number of diverse clients around the World.

Neill is a member of the Finance & Estates Committee and his interest in the use of Information Technology to support modern learning opportunities leads to an active involvement in developing the school’s IT strategy.  Whilst Neill takes an interest in all aspects of school life, he particularly enjoys the Performing Arts and regularly attends concerts and performances at the school. He is married to Jane and has four children, three of whom were at St Hugh's. 


Mrs Judy Forrest, Deputy Chair 

Judy Forrest was Headmistress of Chandlings School, Oxfordshire for nine years, and before this was Headmistress of Upton House School, Windsor. Prior to that she was Head of Lower School at The Manor Prep School, Abingdon, Oxon, for twelve years. She is a member of IAPS (Independent Association of Prep Schools), served on the District Committee and ran the IAPS New Heads' Induction Course. Retired in July 2008, Judy joined the Board at St Hugh's in November of that year and she is now governor of several schools, advises on Pre- Prep education, is an IAPS mentor to new Heads and is an Area Rep for JET (Joint Educational Trust). Her son was a pupil at St Hugh's.


Mrs Lorraine Chitty 

Lorraine Chitty is a consultant for a solicitors firm with offices in Wiltshire and London. She also sits on the Midland Circuit as a Deputy District Judge and specialises in family law with broad experience across most of these specialised areas. Lorraine is a key member of the Education and Compliance Committee. She is married to Roger, and they have two children who were both at St Hugh's.


Dr Anna Coull 

Dr Anna Coull was a GP and partner at White Horse Medical Practice in Faringdon for 30 years. She was educated at Queen Anne’s School and Birmingham University. She is married to Hamish and their two daughters both had a very happy time at St Hugh’s before going on to Cheltenham College. Both girls have now qualified as doctors and are training to be GPs.



Mr Sam Cover 

Sam Cover is a Chartered Surveyor, working for his family’s property development and investment company. He was born in Oxford and has many fond memories of attending St Hugh’s between 1989 and 1998. Sam and his wife Emma live locally and have two young boys.




Mr Chris Davies, Chair of the Education, Welfare and Compliance Committee 

Chris Davies has been the Headmaster of two IAPS schools. He ran Abingdon Prep School and Edgeborough School, Surrey, between 1999 and 2017, before Chairing IAPS for three years and then setting up the IAPS Consultancy Service.

He is now a Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and an Associate of the Association of Education Advisers. He has been an Independent Schools' Inspector and has been on the governing body of independent schools since 2002. He is married to Jane and has two children. He is a playing member of MCC and the Chairman of the Eton Fives Association.


Mrs Virginia Gill, Chair of Finance & Estates Committee 

Virginia Gill was born in Oxford and was among the first girls to be educated at St Hugh’s and had a very happy time here from 1979-1984 before moving to St Helen & St Katharine in Abingdon and then to Durham University, where she read Modern Languages and Business Studies. After Durham she trained as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young. After 8 years as an auditor in the Consumer Products sector, she moved to as Commercial Risk Manager. After a few years she decided to retrain as a Modern Languages teacher, doing her PGCE in Sheffield after which she taught at King’s School, Chester; Uppingham School, Rutland and Emanuel School, London. She is currently on maternity leave from teaching at the Junior School of Channing School in Highgate, London. She is married to Alastair and they have two young children, Henrietta and Joshua.


Mr Dimitrios Hatzis, Finance & Estates Committee  

Dimitrios was born and went to school in Athens, Greece. He then studied engineering at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. He also holds an MBA from INSEAD.

Throughout his career Dimitrios has worked in advising, structuring and executing transactions. In addition, he has extensive experience in the governance and restructuring of large enterprises having held board level roles in commercial as well as in government organisations. More recently he has been involved in advisory work as well as setting up and running his own businesses.

He has been a founding member of the Cyclades Preservation Fund, a charitable organisation aiming to support sustainable initiatives and to promote the preservation of the exceptional beauty and natural value of the Cyclades in Greece where he and his family have a second home.

He is married with three adult sons and lives in Oxfordshire.


Mr Edward Hayter 

Edward Hayter is currently Bursar and Chief Operating Officer at St Edward’s School. St Edward’s is a leading co-educational boarding school for 820 pupils based on a 100 acre site in Oxford. He qualified as a Navigating Officer in the Royal Navy after graduating and saw service worldwide in the surface fleet. In 1996 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to HRH the Princess Royal and left the Navy in 1998. He went on to hold Corporate Strategy Director roles at BT and Lloyds Bank International, followed by Operating Partner and Managing Director roles in a number of Private Equity Funds.


Mrs Polly Johnson, Admissions & Marketing Governor 

Polly is the former Director of Marketing & Admissions at St Hugh’s, having worked at the school for nearly 10 years. Polly now works as the Senior Admissions Manager at Radley College. Prior to starting her career in Education, Polly worked in Healthcare, specialising in A&E, Cardiology and Practice Nursing, before joining the Pharmaceutical Industry in the 1990s and latterly becoming Chief Executive of a small healthcare charity. Polly is married to Bart, and their two children, Tallulah and Monty, were both educated at St Hugh’s before moving on to Cheltenham Ladies College and Eton – both are now students at the University of Durham. 


Mrs Nicola Sharff

Nicola is a qualified Chartered Accountant (ICAEW). After studying mathematics at Nottingham University she trained as an accountant with Price Waterhouse Coopers. She then went on to spend 12 years at Goldman Sachs within the Financial Controllers Department. Nicola and her husband Matt have three children who enjoyed their prep-school years at St Hugh's from 2010 to 2022. Their sons, Joshua and Jacob, went on to Abingdon School, whilst their daughter, Georgina, is at Headington.


Miss Louise Strange

Louise is the Financial Controller for ACAS ( The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). She is a Chartered Certified Accountant who has previously worked for the Department for Transport but also spent many years in the independent education sector where she held the position of Bursar at both St Johns on the Hill School, Chepstow and Berkhampstead School, Cheltenham. 

Mr Graham Varney, Estates & Development Governor 

Graham Varney was born in Oxford and attended the City of Oxford High School for Boys before becoming an articled pupil with John Laing Construction. He subsequently qualified as a Member of the Institute of Quantity Surveyors and of the RICS. He is treasurer to Besselsleigh PCC, and is heavily involved with the National Young Enterprise Scheme as a Business Advisor at a number of Oxfordshire schools, particularly at Oxford High School for Girls. Graham was previously a part owner and Director of Benfield & Loxley, an old established Oxford builder. He is married to Alison, a secondary school teacher, and has two grown up children: Oliver who was educated at St Hugh’s, and Martha.

The school is well governed and strongly supported by its governing body.

Independent Schools Inspectorate