Inspirational leader stands down from...

Inspirational leader stands down from...

9 Jul

Inspirational leader stands down from education role

A well-known Hartlepool public figure is to stand down from a key education role which he has held for the last nine years.

Chris Simmons has been Chair of Ad Astra Academy Trust since 2015 and the announcement came at the Trust’s recent annual Festival of Education at Teesside University.

Ad Astra Academy Trust has ten primary schools under its umbrella across Teesside and County Durham.

Mr Simmons, who headed up the music department at the former Henry Smith School in Hartlepool for over 25 years and was a key figure in Hartlepool Youth Choir for decades, received a special send off from dignitaries and pupils.

Mrs Sue Snowden, the Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, who carries out duties on behalf of His Majesty King Charles, thanked Mr Simmons for his service and along with pupils presented him with a star, which is named after him, and artwork of a tree where pupils from each school printed fingerprints to represent the leaves.

Speaking at the event, Sue Snowden, said: “Chris’s impact on children’s lives in terms of education across the region and especially within Hartlepool has spanned almost 60 years, and his impact within the world of music has been evident worldwide.

“Chris has always been a champion of children and in particular drove the policy of the Council to improve educational outcomes for Hartlepool children and was granted Freedom of the Borough in 2005.

“It gives me the greatest pleasure to thank you personally for your hard work, commitment, and dedication and present you with this token of appreciation for all you have done.”

Chris Simmons thanked the Lord-Lieutenant and then went on to praise Ad Astra Academy Trust staff.

He said: “I cannot thank you enough for everything you do in driving the Trust forward. All of your efforts and hard work will stay with children forever and help them enormously on their journey in life.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to serve you in my various roles. There’s a great togetherness and staff trust each other and believe in one another.”

Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “Chris has been an inspiration and pillar of strength to everyone across the Trust.

“He has carried out the role with great empathy and integrity and been a tremendous servant.

“Chris has been by my side for over 27 years in different roles and I cannot thank him enough for his support, tireless effort and dedication.”

Mr Simmons has also been Chair of Governors at West View Primary School and Vice-Chair of Lynnfield Primary School and a Hartlepool councillor for nine years.

He was also Vice-Chair of the British Federation of Young Choirs and President and then Vice-President of the European Federation of Choirs for 6 years.

Chris Simmons will stand down at the end of the summer term but continue to be a member of Ad Astra Academy Trust.

The ten primary schools within Ad Astra are Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool, Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees, Ayresome and Sunnyside in Middlesbrough and Deaf Hill and Kelloe in County Durham.

Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last nine years has grown across the Tees Valley, providing education for over 3,500 pupils and over 500 employees.