Trustees and Governors Pen Portraits
allison smiling.png

Chair of Trustees and Governors: Rev'd Allison Harding

I am currently the vicar of Newburn Parish which incorporates St Michael’s, Newburn and St Mary’s, Throckley. Before becoming a vicar, I worked as a homelessness officer, education welfare officer and probation officer. As a probation officer, I worked with young people and their families at Gateshead Youth Offending Team; I have always had a concern for young people and particularly enjoyed working with those who struggled with education or faced challenges within their family and community.


It is my hope that all young people can believe that they are unique and special, and that they can be given the support to reach their potential and make a positive contribution to society. I am delighted to be involved at Talbot House. Outside of work I enjoy spinning, watching sport and looking after my grandchildren and my Labrador, Lucy.


Trustee and School Governor: Louise Cannell-Mirza

I am a solicitor within the Family team at Ward Hadaway, Newcastle. I completed my law degree at Northumbria University in 2005 and trained and qualified at Ward Hadaway thereafter. As a family lawyer, I deal with all aspects of family law including divorce, finance and children disputes. I also advise on issues relating to adoption (including international adoption), relocation of children, domestic violence and cohabitation issues. I represent parties within complex public law care proceedings when Local Authorities issue court applications in relation to children. I am also accredited through the Law Society to represent children in such cases.


I also advise the NHS, education and employment sectors in relation to their roles and responsibilities for safeguarding children. Outside of work, I like to travel and be outdoors as much as possible with my husband and young family who keep me very busy and very entertained!

Linda Wright.jpg

Trustee and School Governor: Linda Wright

I have been a Councillor for just over 22 years. During that time I have held various positions including Chair of Cityworks committee, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Public Health and Safety, and currently hold the position of Chair of Regulatory and Appeals. I also had the honour of being Lord Mayor of Newcastle (Council Year 17/18). Although retired now, I am a trained shorthand typist having worked most recently as a Personal Assistant. I had over 5 years of experience as a school Governor and was Chair at Throckley Primary School for over 20 years. I am married with three children and six grandchildren and in my small amount of free time I love to knit, go walking with my dog, read and go to the Ballet.


Trustee and School Governor: Lisa Alcorn

I am currently the Chief Operating Officer at SJOG which is a national charity supporting adults with learning, physical disabilities and autism in residential, supported living and domiciliary services. My role is vast, and I also have nursing and older community services, homeless hostels and an ever growing national safe house accommodation pathway for people affected by modern slavery and human trafficking. I am also the Designated Safeguarding Lead and Prevent Lead for SJOG.

I have worked in the field of autism for nearly 30 years and specialised in this area many years ago. I was previously Head of Children’s Services for an autism specialist provider where my responsibilities involved children’s homes and schools.

I have been successful at the BILD International Leadership Awards for Innovation Practice for Young People and the National Autism Awards, but nothing beats seeing children and young people thrive.

Nina Ramsey.jpg

Trustee and School Governor: Nina Ramsey

I am a qualified Art Psychotherapist & Clinical Supervisor. I have been practising since 2010 and have worked for a number of charities supporting children, young people and adults with many referral issues including complex trauma, attachment issues, abuse, identity issues, eating problems, suicidal ideation and self-harm and loss. I also have worked with fostering/adoption agencies supporting carers/adoptive parents in thinking about how to therapeutically parent their children, assessing and supporting carer needs and supporting the placements of looked after CYP.


Since 2012 I have been providing supervision to various therapeutic practitioners and I currently work for Durham County Council and Someone Cares as a Clinical Supervisor, Swiis Foster Care and Foster Cares as an Independent panel member and am setting up in private practice to continue to support my caseload of private supervisees, clients and organisations who need training/consultation/restorative supervision. I recently left Acorns (North Tyneside) where I set up a therapeutic service for parents whose children attend the service and prior to that I oversaw a large therapeutic team at Barnardo's Orchard Mosaic Project.


In my spare time, I enjoy travelling with my husband, eating out, reading and learning new skills. I'm particularly fond of anything Japanese!

victoria mears.jpg

Trustee and School Governor: Victoria Mears (pending confirmation)


I graduated from University of Teesside in 1998 with a BSc (Hons) Business Information Studies (2:1).  Since graduation I joined HSBC on their Graduate Programme in Birmingham for 2 years up until 2001 when I joined NatWest and moved back to the North East of England.  I have worked for NatWest for the last 20 years and have experience of various roles in the bank including Retail, Project Consultancy and a Branch Manager role for 15 years.  I have developed skills including relationship management, financial analysis, credit analysis, people management, coaching, leadership and business development.  I have successfully ran the largest Flagship Branch in the North of England where I was responsible for the operational, sales, service and risk performance goals including extensive experience in HR and recruitment.  In this time I have gained a further qualification in Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development Level 5 Diploma (Assoc CIPD) in 2020.  I have also had experience in the last 2 years in Business Banking and I am currently a Regional Relationship Business Manager in the North East and North Yorkshire where I support 200 SME businesses to grow and develop to achieve their business ambitions.  I have recently completed a Chartered Banker Institute qualification (CCBI) in Certificate of Lending Skills in 2021.


I am 44 years old and I live in Chester-le-Street with my husband (Jon), 2 children (Joseph, 14 and Anna 12) and our Labrador (Poppy).  In my spare time I enjoy walking, reading and spending time with the family.  I am really looking forward to supporting the Trust to achieve the best for the children and families they work with, and help to reach their ambitions for the future.


Staff Governor: Karen Cowans

On leaving university I worked for British Airways as a personnel/staff trainer. It was after some time here I was given the opportunity to train and became a dispensing optician, a role which I thoroughly enjoyed. After having my three children, I joined the Prison Service, working in Durham and Bracknell adult prison and Hassockfield young offender’s institute. My main role in the adult prisons was security and hostage negotiation. I was then very fortunate to be offered a position at Talbot House Trust. From that day the ethos of Talbot House has been my passion. I feel privileged to be given the chance to meet our young people and be part of a team that strives to bring change to their lives, personally, socially and emotionally giving them the opportunities they deserve.

steve h.jpg

Staff Governor: Steve Hughes

I have been the science teacher at Talbot House Trust for several years, having moved from Dorset to be nearer my children and grandchildren. With over 25 years in hospitality running pubs/clubs and restaurants, I consider myself to have a wide and varied skill set to motivate and support children and adults to achieve their true potential. As well as teaching, my wife and I are foster carers, offering a secure and safe place for children in need of respite or support in unsettled times. Being a staff Governor means I can be an integral part of the process to help Talbot House Trust achieve its goals, as a teacher sharing the grass roots commitment to ensure our pupils achieve their very best!


Parent Governor: Sophie Robinson

I have worked with children and young people since 2011 and started my career working in a young offender’s prison. I then went on to work at St Nicholas hospital in Gosforth as a mental health support worker and began working in children’s homes in 2015. I became registered manager at Chadersley in September 2019. I have spent some time building up a strong staff team and our young people who live at Chadersley have made some excellent progress since they arrived. I love my job and I enjoy working with everyone at Talbot House Trust. Outside of work I am a very sociable person who loves spending time with family and friends.