Meet the Directors

David Faulkner

Chair of Board of Directors (

David worked for over 32 years in the Financial Services industry, based in the UK, Spain, USA and Singapore.  After retiring in 2007, he started to commit time to voluntary positions, mostly in schools.  He became a Governor of a Primary School in Billericay and after 3 years became Vice Chair and the Chair of the Finance Committee.  He then started to focus on schools that were struggling with their Ofsted rating and became Chair of two schools in Basildon.  One Infant School was amalgamated with a Junior School and was judged Good after 18 months.  The other, a larger Primary School eventually became Good after 18 months.  He also did work with schools in Basildon to improve working relations between schools and local businesses.  He became Chair of a 420 place Primary school in Wickford where he was involved in various roles over a 4 year period.  He has been on an LA appointed Interim Executive Board (as Chair) to turn three schools around and work towards joining a multi-academy trust.  He is also currently an additional LA appointed governor (and Chair of Governors) at a Primary School in Witham where he is primarily focused on finance and data and leading the school to a Good Ofsted rating within 18 months.  He became Chair of HEARTS Academy Trust in September 2015.


Emma Cockerton

Emma’s executive career has spanned over 25 years working in the fields of HR, change management, strategy, governance and CSR, working as a director in both the private and public sectors in small to large organisations across Europe, Asia and America.  Emma said “I am delighted to have joined Hearts as a Non-Executive Director through the Academy Ambassadors Programme.  I am committed to our values and our strategic goal of providing outstanding learning in all our academies and transformational personal development which allows our pupils and communities to thrive socially and emotionally as well as academically.”


Vaughan Collier

Vaughan was born and educated in Essex until he was 13 when his family moved to Hertfordshire. He gained the Certificate of Education from London University and the BA Open University Masters in Educational Research from Anglia Ruskin University.

Vaughan taught for 8 years in Stevenage as the Deputy Head of a new primary school in Rushden, Northants.  His first headship was in Havering and then he secured a second headship in Billericay, Essex. He was a member of the Billericay Community Trust and Head of a consistently outstanding school until his retirement.

Vaughan is a Foundation Governor at Briscoe Primary School and Nursery and an active member of St Gabriel’s Church, Pitsea.


Richard Godfrey

Richard’s role as Chief Operating Officer encompasses leading the operations, business management and infrastructure functions for the global HSS business, including the HSS global service centres. Before this he led the HSS fund services business across Europe.

Prior to joining the HSBC in 2004, Richard was with Mellon for six years, the last three as CEO of its investment administration business in Europe. He spent twelve years at Robert Fleming before moving to Mellon, where he was responsible for operations supporting their insurance and investment businesses.


Richard qualified as a Chartered Insurer in 1988 and is a graduate of Wharton’s Advanced Management Program.


Gill Hopkins

Gill's background was in teaching and training.  After completion of a PGCE at the Urban Studies Centre in Stepney she taught geography in Yorkshire.  She also worked as part of the North Yorkshire Staff Development Team and with the Counselling and Career Development Unit at Leeds University.  On returning to Essex Gill ran the Teacher’s Centre in Chelmsford and also worked on teacher training programmes.  Whilst her children were young she worked part time at the FE College in Southend and then returned full time to teaching in a primary school.  In 2000 Gill took up a Headship of a failing Church of England Primary School which she successfully turned around to ‘outstanding’ before she left in 2007 to be ordained in the Anglican Church.


Gill served as curate in the Wickford and Runwell Team Ministry and was a governor at Wickford C/E School.  In 2010 she joined the Waltham Holy Cross Team Ministry and served as Team Vicar at the Church of the Holy Innocents, High Beach and Chaplain for Epping Forest and the Lee Valley.  The Chaplaincy was about developing ways to enable visitors to the outdoors to pay attention to their spiritual wellbeing.


Gill has ‘Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Chelmsford’ following her retirement from full time ministry in February 2016.  She is Vice Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education and the Diocesan Member for the Hearts Academy.  Gill works as a volunteer for the Friends of Epping Forest at High Beach Visitor Centre and is also involved with a group welcoming Syrian refugees.


Gill is an‘Essex’ girl by birth and is married to Richard who was born in Australia.  They have two children who have followed their parents into the world of education.  Richard and Gill love all that London has to offer and also enjoy travelling, so they have moved close to a tube station to facilitate their movements.



Debbie Rogan OBE

Debbie has been a teacher for over 30 years. She was appointed as Headteacher of The Wickford Church of England school in 2003 after working as a teacher and deputy in a range of schools in Essex.  She also worked as a Local Authority advisor and Expert unattached teacher for 4 years.


Debbie was appointed the interim Executive Headteacher in 2010 and is now the full time Executive Headteacher and CEO of the HEARTS Academy Trust.  She was with an OBE in 2016 for services to education and continues to be a National Leader in Education, Ofsted and SIAMS Inspector and pupil premium reviewer.


Grant Jessup

Grant has 11 years’ experience within specialist recruitment, mostly at large corporate or growing recruitment businesses. He is highly skilled in delivering change and building recruitment protocols that push the boundaries of traditional recruiting.


Grant has significant knowledge of education recruitment. As Regional/Operations Director, Quality Teachers, at Capita Plc., Grant was responsible for setting up Capita’s new education recruitment business. Prior to this, at EduStaff, Grant worked with universities and large Academy trusts, as well as individual schools to help them develop long term talent attraction, acquisition and management plans.

With a strong passion for education, Grant is a governor at an ‘Ofsted Outstanding’ South London School and is on the Board of Directors for the HEARTS Academy Trust in Essex as well as the Board of Trustees for the charity TimeBanking UK.


Graham Smedley

Graham was recruited and trained by Ford Motor Co, and is a Chartered Management Accountant. He has broad ranging experience at Board level in International Businesses (Aerospace, Financial Services, Branded Footwear), SME’s (Facilities Management, Property Management & Construction, Electronics Wholesale), Corporate Turnarounds and venture capital supported start-ups. He is an active mentor to a number of Government funded startup ventures and recently co-authored a book concerning Corporate Governance  published by Amazon.


As an Interim Manager Graham was instrumental, as a Director, in the establishment of the Institute of Interim Management. His activities in this aspect of professional life led him to appointments as CFO or CEO in a number of challenging scenarios mainly in the UK.


With venture capital support Graham was appointed CEO of a European Safety Products SME. Within 18 months he doubled its turnover, established UK manufacturing capabilities, won showcase contracts with CERN, MOD and European military and utilities organisations, developed European Distributor & Marketing channels and gave ‘Expert’ evidence to the Air Safety Committee at the House of Commons.


David Dahan

David is a strategic advisor, with a particular focus on investment management, business growth, transformational change and post-acquisition integration.  His experience spans over 23 years in financial services.


Earlier in his career, he held a variety of corporate and business strategy roles, in which David worked with global Boards and Executive teams on a broad range of organisational challenges (e.g. business strategy and planning, business performance, mergers, integration, strategic portfolio reviews, commercial strategies, cost efficiency change initiatives).  Most recently, David was Managing Director for a major insurer-owned fund manager.  There he created and grew a number of new businesses and has led infrastructure, structured finance, real estate and private equity investment businesses and teams.


David has studied and worked in France, the US and the UK.  He is married and has a 10-year old son.




Hearts Academy Trust


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