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Hopwood Hall College and University Centre

The news is out, I'll be taking on the baton from Nazir Afzal OBE as the next Chair of Corporation Board of Hopwood Hall! I'll formally start in July and am excited to be joined by the (also new) Vice Chair, Ben Ward, (CEO of the University of Manchester Student's Union). I've known Ben's work over many years and have consistently been impressed.


Rest assured, my private coaching practice remains a priority for me. This endeavour enriches my coaching and leadership efforts, as holding a portfolio of Non-Executive Director roles ensures that I stay closely connected with the heartbeat of businesses across the UK and beyond.


If you'd like to read extracts from the press release or Julia Heap's (Principal and CEO) comments, then I've added them below.



Press Release Statement

Hopwood Hall College and University Centre, one of GMColleges nine General Further Education Colleges, has appointed two highly esteemed new members to its Corporation Board. Gary Buxton MBE, A Coaching Psychologist with a private practice in Manchester, who established the Young Advisors Charity, has been named Chair Designate and will assume the role of Chair in July 2024.


Gary said: “I’m really thrilled to be joining Hopwood Hall who are outstanding in their field and nationally recognised for making education inclusive. I hope I can combine my experience of working with schools, technical education providers and universities to carry on the good work of Nazir and celebrate all that Hopwood Hall continues to achieve.”

He will succeed current Chair Nazir Afzal, who is stepping down from the post after six years. In addition, Ben Ward has been appointed as Vice Chair Designate and will take up the role in July 2024. Ben, who is the Chief Executive Officer for University of Manchester Students’ Union, will succeed current Vice Chair Clive Reid. The two designates both bring a wealth of experience to the Board at Hopwood, which has campuses in Middleton and Rochdale, Greater Manchester.


The appointments come during a very momentous time for the college after it was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize. Gary, who was awarded an MBE in 2014, and Ben, who is a Trustee of Manchester Literature Festival, were recruited via Peridot Partners.


Dan Baxter, Principal Consultant at Peridot, said:

“It has been such a pleasure to have supported Julia and the Board at Hopwood Hall College with this recruitment process, funded via the FE Governor Recruitment Service which we deliver on behalf of the Department for Education. Gary and Ben are both successful, experienced and respected leaders and they are passionate about making positive impacts in all that they do. With the College already achieving such wonderful outcomes for its students and local communities, I can’t wait to see Hopwood have even more success across the region with the support of Gary and Ben on their Board. We at Peridot wish them both, and the College, all the very best for the future.”

Julia Heap, Principal and CEO of Hopwood Hall College and University Centre, said:


“I’m so excited to be welcoming both Gary and Ben to our ambitious Corporation Board.
“These two appointments both bring an incredible amount of insight, expertise and experience and we’re really looking forward to all the ways in which they will help us build upon the huge momentum we have at Hopwood Hall College. I’d like to send a heartfelt ‘thank you’ on behalf of colleagues, students and stakeholders to both Nazir and Clive for their many years of service and the work they’ve done over the years to ensure the college has experienced so much success.”

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