Members Pen Portraits

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Brian Rigby, MBE

Chairman of the Member Board

Before resigning as Chairman of The Dean Trust, Brian Rigby had been a leading figure in the many successes at Ashton-on-Mersey School, where he had been the Chairman of Governors since 1990. During this time, he played a pivotal role in steering the school through a period of continued improvement that enabled pupils to achieve record GCSE results year on year and for the school to become Trafford’s largest secondary school in response to parental demand. In addition, during his Chairmanship, the school achieved seven outstanding Ofsted reports plus five Investors in People awards, just a few of the many accolades awarded over the years.

Parents have acknowledged on many occasions that Brian has made a huge positive difference to the lives of many young people by his total commitment to improving opportunities for pupils.

It was Brian’s shared vision with Headteacher Tarun Kapur which led  to establishing the West Trafford Learning Partnership (WTLP), a hard Federation between Ashton-on-Mersey and Broadoak Schools as they were both confident that the robust and talented senior management team at Ashton, together with the support of the dedicated Governors, could make a real difference to children’s lives by giving Partington pupils new and exciting opportunities. His belief was realised when five years later Broadoak School was recognised as being an ‘Outstanding’ School by Ofsted.

In 2012 the WTLP became ‘The Dean Trust’, named after Brian in recognition of his outstanding service to education. The Trust immediately sponsored Forest Gate Primary School, which rapidly became the most improved primary school in the North West.  Brian’s work was recognised in 2005 when he received the MBE for his outstanding work in education. In 2013 he became a National Leader in Governance having already advised several Governing Bodies throughout the North West.

The Dean Trust has welcomed new schools into the Trust in recent years. The Huyton Arts and Sports Centre of Learning which was a struggling secondary school in Knowsley has now earned the reputation locally as ‘the school of choice’ and gained the support of The Earl of Derby to rebrand the school as Lord Derby Academy.  Furthermore, following meetings held with Tarun Kapur and Brian, the Governors at Park View Primary School, Knowsley, a partner school to Lord Derby Academy, joined The Dean Trust.

Such was the outstanding reputation of The Dean Trust that Manchester City Council selected the Trust to have the responsibility for a new secondary academy. Dean Trust Ardwick opened its doors to pupils in 2015 and since then has grown from strength-to-strength earning its excellent reputation by becoming the local ‘school of choice’ and by being oversubscribed.  The most recent school to join The Dean Trust is Dean Trust Rose Bridge a secondary school located in Wigan.

In addition to his commitment to education, Brian served as a Councillor at Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council from 1994 until 2021 during which time he held several chairmanships.

Deborah Lucas

Deborah Lucas is a fully qualified HR practitioner with a Master’s Degree in Employment Law. She has practised in her field since 1990, working across several local authorities including Manchester, Oldham and Trafford.

Deborah is currently Head of People Services at Kirklees Council and has provided direct HR support to schools since 2006.  She became a community governor at the Kingfisher Special School, a National Teaching School, in 2009.  When the school became an academy in 2016, Deborah supported the school through transition and became a Trustee of the Kingfisher Learning Trust where she now leads on all employment related matters.

The Kingfisher Special School has since received three successive Ofsted ratings of ‘Outstanding’ in 2006/7, 2009/10 and 2014/15.

Deborah is married with two children and lives in Chadderton.  She is qualified in modern languages, enjoys running and yoga, is a keen Manchester City supporter and is also a volunteer at Oldham Cats Home.


Michael Prior

As a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Michael currently provides Internal Audit and Assurance Services to Multi Academy Trusts.

At the age of 22 years, Michael was appointed as a Partner within Kidsons and, during the period of 1968-1989, led the growth and development of a small local firm into becoming a major independent practice in the Greater Manchester area.  The firm, Heywood Shepherd, joined HLB Kidsons in 1989.

Previously Michael held the roles of President of the Manchester Society of Chartered Accountants; Chairman of Lancashire Dairies; Shareholder Representative on the Board of the Bradford based engineering group, Hindle Group Ltd and Chairman of the Manchester Building Society.  He has also served as a Trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and Chairman of its Finance and Audit Committee and, as a Justice of the Peace since 1983.

More recently Michael is a Trustee for the Edward Holt Trust and is Director and Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the Catholic Trust (CaTEW), the administrative vehicle for the work of the Catholic Bishops Conference in England and Wales.  He is also a past Captain and playing member of Ringway Golf Club.

Melanie McGuirk

Melanie has been a lawyer for 20 years. She is a partner in the law firm, Pannone Corporate, where she specialises in the resolution of disputes and commercial mediations.  She has a particular specialism in the resolution of disputes relating to intellectual property and reputation management. She is a committee member of the Association of Women Solicitors and the Manchester Law Society, including its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion sub-committee.

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