Our Lady's Abingdon - OLA Leadership

OLA Leadership

OLA Executive Leadership Team

The OLA Executive Leadership Team works in partnership with the Governors Strategic Review Committee to lead the School in terms of strategic development and business planning.

Chief Operating Officer & Executive Leader: Mr P Karian CIPD

Head: Mr D Gibbons BA Hons Leeds, PGCE MMU

OLA Leadership Team

The OLA Leadership Team reports to the Executive Leadership Team and manages all academic and pastoral matters across the wider OLA community.

Deputy Head: Dr B Reynaert BA Hons, Applied Biology Cardiff, PhD (London), PGCE (Reading)

Assistant Head (Pastoral, DSL): Mrs C Sharkey BA Hons De Montfort, PGCE UWE

Assistant Head (Operations, DDSL, Designated Mental Health Lead): Mr Luke Allen BSc, PGCE Cardiff (Head of Boys’ PE)

Assistant Head (Academic): Mr John Branney, BA Paisley, MA Exeter

OLA Governors

Our enthusiastic and committed Governors, who bring with them a wide range of skills and professional expertise, take a very close interest in the school,  The OLA Executive Leadership Team works in partnership with the Governors Strategic Review Committee to lead the School in terms of strategic development and business planning.

Clerk to Governors: Deborah Underwood, email clerk@ola.org.uk

Freddy El Turk

Governor since 2018

Mr Freddy El Turk has a diverse background and wide experience in business, education and technology, with his main focus being on Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning.

Freddy acquired his technical and business qualifications from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, the University of Oxford and Insead Business School. He is the founder of Vizidox Solutions Limited (VDX), a complete solution to issuing and tracking official records using the blockchain technology. He is also the founder of Morphotech Limited, a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) development company, as well as being the Global Head of Technology for the largest creative media college, SAE Institute. Throughout his career, Mr Elturk’s forward-thinking and relentless passion for advances in futuristic technology have earned him respect and admiration amongst industry peers and we are fortunate to have his skills at our disposal.

Chair of Governing Board, Chair of Finance and Business, Chair of Financial Awards

Guy Ayling, MA

Governor since 2018

Guy was educated at Rugby School and the University of St Andrews. He is currently Head Master and Principal of the Mount Kelly Foundation in Tavistock, and prior to moving to Devon had been Warden of Llandovery College for seven years. Guy met his American wife Heather whilst working in Japan and they have three sons. Guy still plays a little cricket and fives but most enjoys walking with his Labrador Elvis.

Guy is a member of HMC and sits on the main Committee of the Society of Heads.

Committees: Academic and Spiritual

Dr Lesley Ann Bergmeier, PhD, CBiol, MRSB, FHEA

Governor since 2017


Lesley was born in Abingdon and was educated at both St Edmunds and Our Lady’s Abingdon. She has spent all of her career working in the field of Mucosal Immunology; first at Guy’s Dental School (now part of King’s College London) and more recently at the Institute of Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, where she holds the title of Reader in Oral Immunology. Lesley has published extensively and was awarded the Draper’s prize for excellence in teaching in 2012. She has considerable experience teaching at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels and in supervising of PhD and MSc research students. Lesley has been Programme Lead for the MSc in Experimental Oral Pathology since 2009. She served on the Self-assessment team for the Institute of Dentistry Athena SWAN Bronze award application (Granted 2013, renewed in 2016) and was responsible for the Institute Newsletter.

Lesley is married to Bob and has two step-daughters. She is a keen Choral singer and is a member of the Buckingham Choral Society.

Andrea Freeman, BEd

Governor since 2010

Andrea is the Principal of Oxford Media & Business School. After studying Education at university, Andrea has spent her entire career in education and training, specialising in communication and presentation skills including personal and career development. In addition to teaching, she has worked for numerous examination boards as an Examiner and Principal Moderator as well as writing various articles for business magazines. Andrea has also co-authored a students’ text book on Word Processing.

She is a qualified Myers Briggs consultant delivering the MBTI programme to all her students and an NVQ Assessor and Internal Verifier.

Andrea lives in Northmoor with her husband and has three daughters the youngest of which was a pupil at both the Lower and Senior school of OLA.

Chair of Marketing and PR

Rev James McGrath, STB, MA

Governor since 2010

Father Jamie is the Parish Priest of Our Lady and St Edmund Abingdon. He was educated at Montfort College, Romsey, Hampshire, and studied Philosophy and Theology at the Missionary Institute, London, obtaining a degree from Louvain University, Belgium.

Ordained in 1982 his early priesthood was spent in Malawi, in central Africa, before joining Portsmouth Diocese in 2000. In 2013 Fr Jamie was appointed Episcopal Vicar for Education by Bishop Egan of Portsmouth Dioces

Committees: Academic and Spiritual

Sister Penny Roker, MA (Cantab)

Governor since 2014

Sister Penny Roker worked as a teacher for 22 years and was on the Staff of Our Lady’s Convent Senior School from 1995-2000 as Head of History and Senior Mistress. Sister Penny wrote the history of the school entitled ‘Children of Mercy’, published in the millennium year. Since leaving Abingdon in 2000 she has worked as a prison chaplain, counsellor, spiritual director and retreat director. She has published several books and is currently on the writing team of Redemptorist Publications. Sister Penny lives in Community in Eltham with three other Sisters. Their Convent is the Formation House for the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy.

Committees: Academic and Spiritual

Francis Peck

Governor since 2018

Now retired after a career which included Retail/Logistics and Business Support Services.

Roles included:

  • Management trainee and subsequent management roles with the John Lewis Partnership.
  • Joined Habitat just after start up, later becoming a director.
  • Moved into Logistics with NFC/Exel – moving through several Executive roles including two years in the Far East
  • In the last 10 years worked as Group Chief Executive for The Corps an International Business Support company based in the city.

Married to Elizabeth, they have 3 grown up children, and live in Hanney.  Francis is a keen golfer, playing at Frilford Heath.

Helen Ronaldson

Governor since 2010

Helen Ronaldson was educated at Our Lady’s Convent School, Abingdon and Combe Bank School, Sevenoaks, Kent.

Helen was born in Abingdon and spent time in an army environment both in the UK and Germany. She is now retired, but remains active in local duties and charities. She is a Governor and Past Master of Christ’s Hospital, Abingdon, President of the Abingdon Inner Wheel, and Chair of Abingdon Monday Club for mentally and physically handicapped adults.

She is married to Chris with two daughters, a stepdaughter and stepson, and has three grandchildren.

Committees: Marketing and PR, Finance and Business, Financial Awards

Peter B Williams, MA

Governor since 2017

Peter was educated at Tain Royal Academy and the University of St. Andrews. He went on to teach in Scotland and at The European School in Culham and in Luxembourg. Following that, Peter lectured in Economics at the University of Edinburgh, also in Copenhagen DK. and Auckland N.Z. He is experienced in teacher training, international education exchange programmes and The International Tracing and Messaging Service of The British Red Cross. A former Honorary Treasurer of Oxfordshire Lawn Tennis Association and of Abingdon Passion Play, Peter is married with three children and has a keen interest in sport and is a regular golfer.

Chair of Academic and Spiritual Committees: Finance and Business

Dr Jacky Woodman, MB, CB, DiplObst, MRCOG, DPhil(Oxon)

Governor since 2018

Jacky was born in Cape Town, South Africa. Educated at the co-ed Catholic St Augustine Primary, she spent three years at the girls’ only, non-segregated St Mary’s Catholic Junior High School, Cape Town – her happiest school years – enabling her to fulfil her academic potential. Her two years at a racially segregated state senior high school were not particularly happy but enabled her to acquire the required subjects for studying medicine at university.

Jacky completed her MBChB degree at Stellenbosch University in 1991. She worked for two years at a district general hospital in Paarl before working in North Wales. She started her DPhil in Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford in 1996, completing her research in premature labour in 2000. She subspecialised in Urogynaecology in Sydney, Australia 2003 – 2005 and completed her membership exams at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2006. Jacky obtained her Certificate of Completion of Training in 2009 and started her first consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecology post in Coventry in June 2009.

Committees: Academic and Spiritual & Education