The UCP Council consists of the following members:
Professor Sir Les Ebdon (Chair)
Chair of HE Council, Professor Sir Les Ebdon
Professor Sir Les Ebdon CBE DL is a widely recognised leader in the field of social mobility, frequently appearing in the media and programmes such as ‘Today’ as a result of his post as Director of Fair Access to Higher Education. An award winning Analytical Chemist, he has published over 270 refereed publications. He has enjoyed highly successful periods as Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Plymouth and as Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Bedfordshire. He has played various national roles in higher education including chairing the University group Million+, for five years, served as a Board member of Universities UK and the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association, as well as chairing the Association of Universities of the East of England for five years. He was awarded a CBE in 2009 for services to national and local higher education and in 2018 was knighted for services to social mobility and higher education. In 2011 he was appointed HM Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire.
Air Commodore Tony Keeling OBE RAF
Tony joined the Royal Air Force in 1987 as an Apprentice technician before qualifying as an engineer officer in 1999. With many years spent at the front line deploying on global operations and exercises, Tony also has experience of working in areas of safety, finance, equipment procurement, and international collaboration. Tony first joined the Board when Station Commander of RAF Wittering and he is now Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets, a nationwide organisation supporting over 40,000 young people.
Tony is also the RAF’s LGBT+ Advocate, is a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Group, a Trustee of The Air League, a Chartered Engineer, and a member of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. He lives in Grantham with his wife and two whippets.
Sameena Aziz (Independent)
Sameena is a mother, an educator, an independent researcher, a businesswoman and a writer. Sameena is the Founder and Principal of Educaxion Learning Hub, she has several articles published in international peer-research journals focusing on young Muslims’ mainstream school and madrassa educational experiences. Sameena is a national award-winning author of Safeguarding Children and Young People in Mosques and Madrasah’s in Peterborough (2014), she has successfully established the safeguarding programme across mosque madrassas and helped embed numeracy and literacy programmes within madrassa education provision to help improve pupil attainment. Sameena has co-founded two schools, one abroad and one in the UK and has over 20 years of experience in education across different key stages and disciplines, she has also evaluated a new module for the Open University catering for national and international students. Recently her work has informed the Integration Strategy work in Peterborough.
Matthew Bradbury (Independent)
Matthew is Chief Executive of Nene Park Trust. He is passionate about education, culture and the environment and the all benefits they provide. Previously, he held senior roles at the Land Trust and Norfolk Wildlife Trust. He takes an active non-executive role with The Parks Alliance, is a Board Member of Cambridgeshire Local Nature Partnership, a Member of the Broads Authority, Chair of The Malcolm Bradbury Trust & Trustee of Living Sport. He also Chairs the Town Deal Board for Peterborough.
Alison Davies (Independent, Chair of the Audit Committee)
Alison is the Vice Chair of the Peterborough Racial Equality Council and research officer who has led young people's research groups. She has extensive experience in higher education and teacher development programmes as well as experience in traditional and online delivery. Alison is research, conference and publication active in the field of educational experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
David Dixon (Independent)
David is a Human Resources consultant, having covered a wide range of people requirements including representing clients at Employment Tribunal. Earlier broad commercial experience was with PriceWaterhouse, and others whom he served as a director and company secretary. As a graduate from Loughborough University, he was the founder President of Loughborough Students’ Union who uniquely own their amenities building. A particular interest is the future of work and skills and what he calls 'Sustainable Employment'.
Rachel Nicholls (Member of Audit and Governance and Nominations)
Rachel is the CEO of Inspire Education Group. She was previously Deputy Principal at New College Stamford, followed by Principal of Peterborough College and has worked in the education sector for 20 years including a decade’s experience at senior levels in college organisations. Rachel is a strong advocate of post-16 education and in particular further education colleges and the role they play in improving life chances. She has experience of teaching and supporting a wide range of students in a number of different college settings. Rachel is highly qualified with a MSc in Leadership and Management from Leeds Metropolitan University and with strong skills in Curriculum Development, Quality Improvement, Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Financial Management and Organisational Change. Rachel is passionate about organisational transformation and developing a high performance culture. Rachel is a keen sportswoman and used to be captain of Halifax Ladies Rugby Team and played rugby for Yorkshire and Humberside and is a very keen golfer.
Peter Walker (Independent, Member of Audit)
Peter is a Chartered Accountant and has been a director of UCP since 2010. He studied economics, finance and company law at the London School of Economics and graduated with a BSc (Hons) Economics degree. Peter spent his early career in the accountancy profession and held senior roles with leading firms Spicer & Pegler and Touché Ross, providing a range of services to local businesses, including business planning, audit and taxation and commercial advice. He served as Vice Principal Corporate Services at New College Stamford and then Peterborough Regional College for a total of 25 years and played a leading role in the merger of those two Colleges to form Inspire Education Group in 2020. He has managed most areas of business support, including finance, procurement, HR, estates, IT, and marketing and has extensive knowledge of risk management and data protection.
Mark Woods (Independent, Member of Audit)
Mark is the Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) and since 2013, the Trust has grown from two academies to its present size. He began his teaching career as an English teacher at the Deacon’s School and Jack Hunt School in Peterborough and has held positions as Head of English at Sawtry Community College, Vice Principal of Swavesey Village College and Principal of Nene Park Academy in Peterborough. Mark is a designated National Leader of Education and works with many schools and trust across the Eastern region. He is a trustee of OWN Trust and Cambridge Primary Education Trust, as well as of the Peterborough United Foundation Trust.
Molly Woodthorpe (Student Member)
Molly is the HE Student Officer at University Centre Peterborough. Also attending the university as a Level 6 Journalism student, Molly is the Editor of the award-winning student magazine and blog, Inside the Box, as well as a local small business owner. She began her role as Deputy Student Officer in the previous academic year and has now progressed to being the Student Officer. She is passionate about engagement with both students and the wider community, creativity, equality and putting the students first.
Liz Knight (Accountable Officer)
Liz has been the Academic Director at University Centre Peterborough since 2012. As a Peterborian, she has a passion for improving education in the city and encouraging widening participation and life-long learning. She started her teaching career at Peterborough Regional College, and held positions as Head of Arts and Science. Liz is a qualified teacher and holds higher qualifications in Education and post-graduate research. In her spare time she enjoys gardening and is a member of the National Trust and CAMRA.
University Centre Peterborough currently has 700+ students on over 30 different degree level programmes.