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Manchester High School for Girls


Lady Rachel Cooper OBE PhD (Chair) ​​​​

Rachel Cooper grew up in the Midlands; she loved Art at school and went on to gain a first class honours degree in Graphic Design. 

Now Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at the University of Lancaster, Rachel is Chair of Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts and undertakes research in design.

She is a non-executive director of Connected Places Catapult and has undertaken several advisory roles to a number of universities, companies and Government departments.

She became a governor of Manchester High School for Girls in 2002 and succeeded Elizabeth Spence as Chair in December 2019.

To contact Lady Cooper, or one of our governors, please contact the Clerk to the Governors on

Alternatively, Lady Cooper can be contacted via the School's postal address.

Dr Amar Ahmed

Born and raised in Manchester, Dr Ahmed attended William Hulmes Grammar School then Guys and St Thomas’ Medical School. He returned to the North West and worked in various South Manchester hospitals training to be a GP. He has been a partner at Wilmslow Health Centre since 2000.

Dr Ahmed joined the governing body in 2013 and sits on the Academic Development Committee.

Andrew Bland FCA FABRP (Deputy Chair)

An alumnus of Manchester Grammar School, Andrew obtained a degree in Accounting and Finance and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1986 at a small local firm. He moved to the Corporate Recovery and Insolvency department at Ernst & Young's Manchester office. In 1999, he successfully completed the Joint Insolvency Examinations and became a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner thereafter.

Following this, Andrew went into industry, concentrating on companies listed on the Alternative Investment Market, initially at a vehicle telematics company and latterly at a market leading personal insolvency business where he became the Group Operations and Finance Director. In 2004, Andrew returned to public practice and acquired a significant interest in a local accountancy practice and at the same time establishing an Insolvency Practice. In 2016, he acquired a further local accounting practice to build on the existing portfolio.

Andrew has acted as a finance trustee for a Manchester and London based charity established to assist people with learning disabilities to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

Andrew is Deputy Chair of the MHSG governing body.

Kate Dickson

A former MHSG student (class of 1985), Kate joined the Governing body formally in December 2018 and is Chair of the Estates Committee.

An Architect by training, Kate heads Creative Heritage Consultants Ltd, a multi-disciplinary practice that provides advisory services to those with responsibilities for historic buildings, based in Buxton. She gained particular experience in delivering a number of major projects as the Director of Heritage Works Building Preservation Trust, including the nationally significant regeneration of Murrays’ Mills in Ancoats, Manchester.  She is a Trustee of the Architectural Heritage Fund, and a member of the register of Support Services for the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Merlyn Lowther BSc MSc MA

Merlyn has been a member of the governing body since 2015 and is now Honorary Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. She  has a Mathematics degree from Manchester University, an MBA from the London Business School and an MA from the Central School of Speech and Drama.

Her executive career was spent with the Bank of England, where she was appointed the first female Chief Cashier in 1999. In 2004 she gave up her executive career to pursue a broader range of interests, holding many non-executive directorships with large companies.

Joy Kingsley

Joy joined JMW LLP in 2010, in the role of Senior Partner, to assist with the continuing development of the firm. Her particular areas of expertise are Management and Business Development. Joy previously presided over the impressive growth of Pannone LLP as Managing Partner and Senior Partner.

During the nine years that Joy has spent at JMW, the revenue has increased from £10m to an expected £45m  in 2019/20, and people from 170 to 550.

In 2019 she set up a JMW office in London. She has been integral to the growth of the business into one of Manchester’s top full service law firms, through high-level recruitment and innovative business models.

Professional recognition of Joy's work includes:

  • Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award (Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For Awards)
  • Declared to be one of the 10 most innovative lawyers in the UK by the Financial Times
  • One of the UK's Top 100 Lawyers according to The Lawyer magazine
  • Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MPF Awards
  • Governor of Manchester Grammar School
  • Non-executive Director and Shareholder of I-COM (I-COM International Ltd), a company providing web and search engine optimisation services;
  • Senator of Manchester Junior Chamber of Commerce
  • Winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award at Manchester Legal Awards 2017
  • A Decade of Excellence in Business at the Women in Business Awards 2018
  • Services to Law at the English Women’s Awards 2018

Professor Fiona Smyth

Fiona is a Professor of Human Geography at the University of Manchester.  She was born in Dublin and moved around the UK extensively during her childhood before settling in Manchester.  She studied Geography at the University of Bristol and then went on to teach at an independent college in central London   She gained her PhD at the University of Manchester in 1995 and began working for the University in the same year. 

In 2008, she became the first female Head of Geography at the University and, in 2014, became Vice Dean for Teaching, Learning and Students in the Faculty of Humanities where she oversees issues related to teaching, learning and students across the Schools of Social Sciences (including Law), Arts, Languages & Cultures, Environment, Education & Development and the Alliance Manchester Business School.  Since 2017, she has been Deputy Dean of the Faculty alongside her Vice Dean role. 

Fiona joined the MHSG governing body in 2019 and is Chair of the Academic Development Committee.

Marie Grant Cert Ed

Marie Grant, former Headmistress of Wilmslow Preparatory School, is an educationalist, deeply committed to independent education.

Marie became a governor in 2002, and sits on the Academic Development and Personnel Committees.  She is one of two governor representatives on the Health and Safety Committee and is the Staff Liaison Governor. 

Marie thoroughly enjoys her involvement with the School and its many activities, taking a special interest in the Preparatory Department.

Vicky Kloss BA

Vicky was born and raised in Greater Manchester and later Glossop, Derbyshire and attended Manchester High School for Girls from 1981 to 1989. She was a student on a part bursary during her time at the school and she has been passionate supporter of the Bursary campaign in recent years and up to the present day. During her final year at Manchester High she was a member of the Head Girl team (one of four deputies).

On leaving MHSG, she attended Queens College, Cambridge University where she graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Modern and Medieval Languages (French and Latin). From Cambridge, she fulfilled her vocation to join the Police Service, becoming a Detective in the Metropolitan Police, London (1993-2001).

Following her relocation to Manchester for family reasons, she embarked upon a new career in Public Relations and Communications, becoming the Press Officer at Manchester City Football club, of which she is a lifelong fan. She has continued her career path at the Club over the past 16 years, becoming Director of Communications and, following the expansion and creation of a number of sister football clubs around the world, now holds the position of Chief Communications Officer of City Football Group. She is responsible for all communications - External, Internal, Commercial, Media and Public Affairs - for the global organisation which now includes six football clubs in North and South America, Europe and Australasia. She is also a member of the organisation's Executive Leadership Team

Christopher Saunders OBE Chartered FCSI

After gaining an MA in Modern History at Wadham College, Oxford, Christopher joined Barclays Bank and subsequently established an Asset Management company which was quoted on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange.  After the sale of that firm, he set up the new firm of S&T Asset Management LLP.

He served as Treasurer and then Chairman of the East Midlands region of the Conservative Party, covering 48 constituencies, and served on the Party’s National Executive.  Christopher is Chairman of two charities; the Manchester High School for Girls Charitable Trust and the John Slater Foundation.  He is also a director of a quarrying company in Somerset.

Laura Earnshaw

After leaving MHSG in 1998, Laura went on to achieve a first class degree in Business from Kings College London.

After graduating, she joined Accenture and worked as a Management Consultant for several years in the UK and Canada. She then took her career into Industry where she was a Global Head of HR in several global companies, her specialisms included Talent Management and Strategic Workforce Planning, a career that took her around the world.

In 2016, Laura decided to pursue a passion to positively impact the mental wellbeing of children in the UK and launched; an innovative curriculum for primary schools to help them build resilient, balanced and happy minds.

She remains hugely grateful for her bursary place at MHSG and for all that the school has done for her. She became a Governor in 2017 and is proud to serve on the Academic Development and Personnel committees.

Giles Burton

Giles joined the MHSG governing body in 2019 and is a member of the Estates Committee.

After graduating from UMIST with a degree in Civil and Structural Engineering in 1976 he entered into private practice in Manchester with Shepherd Gilmour. After opening and running a branch office in Staffs he returned to Manchester when the Senior Partner wanted to retire. Having overseen the SG Group for a number of years, he has acted as consultant since 2016.

With a background in designing all types of structure, specialising in historic buildings and expert witness work, Giles has had a long association with MHSG having designed the Music wing in the early 80’s through to the recent Sixth Form Centre.

Hayley Goldstone

Hayley joined the MHSG governing body in December 2019.   She was a pupil at MHSG between 1988 and 1995.

From MHSG, Hayley attended Leeds University where she graduated with a BA(Hons) degree in International Studies.  She then went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Law and a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice.  In 2000, Hayley joined Berg Legal as a trainee solicitor and on qualification she became a commercial litigator. Hayley is now a partner at Pinsent Masons where she specialises in pensions litigation.  Her work ranges from defending complex and high value professional negligence claims, dealing with regulatory disputes involving the Pensions Regulator and handling multiple Pensions Ombudsman complaints.  

Hayley is co-chair of the North West Association of Pension Lawyers and is a member of the national Pensions Litigation Committee of the Association of Pension Lawyers.      

In her role as governor, she sits on the Estates and Finance committee.