Our Trustees and co-opted Governors share our vision to provide a forward thinking education, which develops the skills and attributes our students will need to make a difference to the world around them. Our Governors are actively engaged in our community; their expertise and guidance helps to ensure we continue to always strive to deliver in line with our ethos and values. 

Bedford Girls' School Committee oversees the governance of Bedford Girls' School. It comprises members of the School’s Senior Leadership Team and representatives from The Harpur Trust, Trustees and Governors.

Our Chair of Governors may be contacted by writing to the School via the Clerk to the Governors:

Chair of Governors
Bedford Girls' School
Cardington Road
MK42 0BX

Governors and Trustees

Mr Neil Harris (Chairman)

Neil took up his position as Chair of the School Committee in September 2022. 

Neil studied Economics at Loughborough University and qualified as a Public Finance Accountant in 2002 and through pathways to membership became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountant in England and Wales 2012.

Neil worked for 14 years at the Audit Commission in a variety of audit and policy roles, finishing as District Auditor from 2009. In 2012, Neil joined Ernst & Young (EY) and specialised in Government and Public Sector (GPS) as a senior audit and assurance engagement leader. He then became an Associate Partner at EYs GPS assurance team.

In September 2022, he started a new role as Director of Local Audit for the Financial Reporting Council

Neil previously chaired the HR, Finance & Premises Committee of Bedford Girls’ School and was formerly Treasurer of Pilgrims PTA and Parent Elected Governor from 2014-2017.

Neil’s daughters attend Bedford Girls’ School and he understands the importance of an education which is building the skills required to be employable in the 21st century. 

Harriett Mather (Deputy Chairman)

Harriett (Deputy Chairman) is a solicitor by profession, qualifying in 1998. She is director of her own law practice focusing on providing advice to those facing investigation or prosecution in relation to criminal matters. She attends upon clients in the Police Station at all hours of the day and night. She provides advocacy in the Magistrates' Court on a daily basis dealing with all aspects of advocacy, bail applications, adjournments, trials and sentences. Prior to setting up her own practice, Harriett was employed by Cartwright Clark Solicitors (previously Pictons) in Milton Keynes.

Harriett is an alumna of Bedford High School and embodies our value of being bold and making a positive difference to the world around you. She cares deeply about the importance of ensuring pastoral care goes hand-in-hand with academic excellence.  

Harriett also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Forensic Mental Health from St Georges Hospital, University of London.

Harriett has also worked for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration and has sat on the Youth Court User Committee at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court.

Rhian Castell

Chair of the Harpur Trust

Rhian is an alumna of Bedford High School and graduated from the University of Nottingham to become a researcher at Chatham House. She joined McCann Erickson Advertising where she spent the remainder of her career working in London, New York and Amsterdam. In London Rhian became a Managing Partner, Client Services Director (with direct responsibility for Microsoft EMEA, L’Oreal and Nestle) and Director of McCann’s EMEA Global Learning Platform. Rhian was also responsible for McCann’s Graduate Recruitment and Training, before leaving in 2007 to spend more time with her family.

More recently she has been involved in a number of business projects and helped to launch the Gu Desserts brand.

Rhain has served as a Trustee at the Harpur Trust since 2014. She is also governor at Pilgrims Prep School.

Rhian has three children, her two daughters attended Bedford Girls’ School.

Mrs Judith Edmundson

Having grown up in Leicester and attending a local comprehensive school, Judith studied Maths and Physics at Durham University before joining what is now Lloyds Banking Group. In over 20 years, she’s held various leadership roles across the main Divisions of the Bank and currently heads the ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) agenda for their Commercial customers ranging from small start up’s to global corporates and has responsibility for driving an inclusive culture amongst her colleagues. She also leads on designing, and delivering, a programme of initiatives to support disability and mental health for more than 60,000 colleagues across the Group.

Judith is passionate about creating an inclusive environment where everyone can be their best and helping girls, particularly, believe that they can be whatever they want to be. She, and husband Rob, have a daughter at BGS and a son at Bedford School. Judith spends much of her free time supporting from the side-lines of sporting fixtures or in the audience at school performances enjoying seeing her children develop and have fun.

Dr Anne Egan

Dr Egan studied at Newnham College Cambridge and Worcester College Oxford, qualifying in Medicine in 1983. She trained in Radiology at Addenbrookes Hospital. 

Anne came to Bedford in 1992 and took up the post Consultant Radiologist at Bedford Hospital in 1995. Her daughter attended Dame Alice Harpur School and her two sons attended Bedford School. Anne is also a member of the Bedford School Committee.

She believes in the importance of excellent pastoral care and extra-curricular opportunities, alongside a strong academic focus.  

Mrs Rachel Gentry

Mrs Rachel Gentry runs an independent business specialising in cyber security advice and consultancy services. Her clients include central government, financial services and other public and private sector organisations.

Previous roles include Commercial Director, Deputy Director in the Cabinet Office and Office of Government Commerce as well as early roles at WH Smith and Argos.

Rachel is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) and the Institute of Directors (IoD). She is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Rachel strongly believes in the importance of an outward looking, global education and of the role that technology plays in facilitating this forward thinking approach.

Mrs Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth is the Area Coroner for Cambridge and Peterborough. Elizabeth believes she is in a position to add value to the School Committee bringing her management experience within her current role and her background as a commercial and corporate lawyer for BT where she worked for over 20 years. She also sat as a Magistrate in Milton Keynes for a number of years before increasing her Coronial duties.

For the past 3 years Elizabeth was the Parent Elected Governor at Bedford School, where as well as sitting on the main School Committees she was a member of the Marketing and External Affairs committee.

Elizabeth has two daughters at Bedford Girls’ School in Year 8 and the Lower Sixth.

Elizabeth has been really impressed with the progressive and ambitious culture of Bedford Girls’ School, alongside a dedicated and talented teaching and support team. She is keen to help the School grow and achieve their ambitious goals.

Mrs Katharine James

Katharine graduated from Aston University with BSc (Hons) in International Business Studies and French, and started her career in the Metropolitan Police where she spent 15 years as a Detective working in major crime investigations.

In 2016, Katharine transferred her skills to the BBC and now holds the position of Head of Safety, Security and Resilience Governance with global responsibility for Safeguarding, Corporate Investigations & Whistleblowing and Business Resilience.

Katharine is a member of the International Security Management Institute and is both a Certified Security Management Professional and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional. She is the author of several industry handbooks, and speaks regularly at Broadcasting Industry events.

Prior to her appointment as a governor Katharine was Chair of Bedford Girls’ School Association; she has a daughter at Bedford Girls’ School and a son at Bedford School.

Katharine is a strong advocate of the ethos of Bedford Girls’ School, championing all students to feel empowered and confident without limits, act with integrity and kindness and see each other as allies within our community and beyond.

Prof Stephen Mayson

Deputy Chairman of the Harpur Trust

Stephen Mayson is Deputy Chairman of the Harpur Trust. He previously served as Chair of Governors at Bedford School from 2010 to 2018.

Stephen was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn (where he is now a Bencher), and has a background as a tax lawyer, strategic advisor and academic. He is Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Law at University College London and Emeritus Professor at the University of Law. He is author of several books on tax law, company law, and law firm strategy. 

Stephen has a long-standing commitment to voluntary contributions, both professionally and personally.

Stephen is a member of the Schools, Policy and Endowment Committees at the Harpur Trust.

Ms Chiara Mac Call (Staff Elected Governor)

Chiara studied the International Baccalaureate diploma Programme  in Rome at St Stephen’s International School and then moved to the UK to study Social Psychology at Canterbury University, with a year on ERASMUS at the Universita Degli Studi, Bologna, Italy. Chiara specialised in Criminology (M.Phil Cambridge University).

Chiara joined the Home Office Juvenile Offenders Unit working on courts policy relating to young people. From 2001 to 2016 she worked as a civil servant including two years on loan to the Youth Justice Board working as a regional manager, monitoring, supporting and improving the performance of Youth Offending Teams, Young Offender Institutions, Local Authority Secure Children’s Homes and Youth Inclusion Projects in London.

Chiara’s wider interests are in photography, art, social policy, politics, governance, humanitarianism, feminism and ethics. Chiara is bilingual English/Italian and speaks conversational French.

Chiara shares our ethos of ensuring all of our students develop a global mindset, find their unique voices and are truly valued as individuals, free from gender stereotyping.

Mr Justin Phillimore

Deputy Chair of The Harpur Trust

Justin came to the Trust via co-option to the Admin and Audit Committee in 2007, subsequently becoming a member of the Dame Alice School Committee and a Trustee in 2009; helping to steer the school through its merger and successfully embed our forward-looking future inspired education model.

He was Finance Director for Charles Wells Ltd which is the UK's seventh largest brewer. Prior to Charles Wells, he worked on strategy and change management for a GE joint-venture.

Justin’s daughter attended Bedford Girls’ School.

Justin is a member of the Administration & Audit Committee.

Professor George Ratcliffe

Professor R. George Ratcliffe is an Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford, and an Emeritus Professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford. Until his retirement he was an Official Fellow and Tutor in Biochemistry at New College, and Head of the University Department of Plant Sciences.  

He is the author of numerous scientific papers, mostly in the field of plant biochemistry, and the co-author of two undergraduate textbooks on physical chemistry. He contributed to research, teaching and administration with equal measure and enthusiasm throughout his career, and remains active in research. He was a Curator of the University Parks, a Curator of the University Libraries, and a longstanding elected member of the committee overseeing the University of Oxford’s buildings and estates.

Professor Ratcliffe is a Harpur Trustee nominated by New College, Oxford. He is strongly supportive of single-sex schools for girls and an advocate for STEM education.

Mrs Nicola Reddy

Nicola runs an edtech company, Maths Circle Ltd, that creates award-winning maths programmes, dedicated to helping children acquire fundamental numeracy skills. Their two learning platforms – Times Tables Rock Stars and NumBots – are used by millions of children worldwide and are successfully boosting maths outcomes for young people. Prior to that, she practised corporate real estate law at Pinsent Masons in London for 13 years, after graduating with a first-class honours LLB degree from Manchester University.

She is an alumna of Bedford High School and is also Chair of the Bedford Educational Association, a charity that provides grants for educational purposes to young people in Bedfordshire. She is passionate about improving life chances of children through education, and empowering girls to recognise that they can achieve anything in life.

Mr Oliver Richbell (Parent Elected Governor)

Oliver is a founding Partner of The Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Partnership and a former Commercial Litigation Solicitor. He applies his expertise to assist businesses to avoid disputes where possible, or to resolve them in the most cost effective and time efficient way.  Oliver has clients in the Construction, Sports, Recruitment, E.S.G., IT, Property and Logistics sectors.

Oliver is also Chair of Wooden Spoon Bedfordshire and is responsible for the regional safeguarding and DBS compliance. Wooden Spoon supports the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people.  Oliver was heavily involved in the PTA at Polam Pre-Prep School.

Oliver passionately believes in the importance of a strong community of current students, parents and alumnae and he wants everyone to feel proud to be a member of BGS. 

Oliver is father to a Year 4 student in the Junior School.

Mrs Nicola Smillie

Nicola grew up in Lancashire before moving to Liverpool to read Hispanic Studies and French. After spending an academic year at Seville University and time in France, Nicola returned to Liverpool to complete her degree and embark on her PGCE course.

Following a short period working in the state sector, Nicola joined Westholme School, Blackburn as Head of Spanish and held a variety of academic and pastoral roles there before being promoted to Deputy Head (Academic).

In 2014, she became Headmistress of Saint Martin’s School, Solihull, before relocating to Manchester in 2020 to take up the position of Headmistress of Alderley Edge School for Girls, a GSA school for girls aged 2 – 18.

Nicola is a passionate supporter of single sex education for girls. She firmly believes that girls’ schools are those in which girls excel.

Nicola is an ISI inspector, a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and a member of the Girls’ School Association Membership & Accreditation Committee. She also holds the position of Chair of the GSA Northwest Region.

Mrs Suzanne Tanser

A Bedfordian by birth, Suzanne returned to the town in 2020 after 30 years of living and working on the South Coast and in The Midlands. Suzanne is a Sales Director, currently heading up the Schools Advertising Division at Rightmove, nationally one of our most recognised digital brands and the number one property portal for home movers in the UK today.

Suzanne is a proud Bedford High School Alumna, a place where she developed a deep love of language and communication, before going on to complete a Linguistics and French Degree at the University of Brighton. From there, she built a successful sales career across a number of high-profile organisations before moving into leadership roles, having discovered a flair for coaching, mentoring, and developing high-performing teams with authenticity and empathy. She is a former Fellow of the Institute of Sales Professionals and believes passionately in inspiring future generations to excellence both academically and vocationally.

With a particular interest in closing the Gender Pay Gap, Suzanne champions young women as they transition from education into the workplace. She is part of our Sixth Form Mentoring Team, working hard to coach and inspire her mentees to make considered and informed choices about their next steps as they move on from school life. Suzanne is keen to use her professional skills and experience to add value as a Governor and help BGS continue to provide a future-focused education to all year groups.