Blessed Christopher Wharton, Catholic Academy Trust

Acting CEO/Accounting Officer

Chris Hanson


Trust Board Directors

Mr Joe McDonnell - Chair

Mr Mark Dalton - Vice Chair

Mrs Clare Bussingham

Mrs Roxanna Drake

Father Keiron Walker

Mrs Sarah Martin

Dr Duncan Martin


Independent Members of Audit Committee

Mr Curtis Ledger


The Trust Board

We would like to let you know more about who is on our Trust Board


Joe McDonnell

Chair of the Blessed Christopher Wharton Catholic Academy Trust

Parish: Our Lady of Kirkstall, St Mary’s Horsforth

Joe was born of Irish parents in Leeds, and educated at Holy Rosary, St Dominic’s and St Michael’s.  He studied Biology at St John’s in York before joining the family construction business which he now runs with his wife Amanda.  

He started his school governance at St Mary’s in Horsforth and Holy Name, before becoming a National Leader of Governance, and going on to work in several schools across the city of Leeds. He has been Chair of several schools, an IEB (interim executive board) and several rapid improvement groups. He has been a director at the Bishop Wheeler Trust and worked with several other trust groups at various times. He has sat on and chaired school appeal panels for both the Diocese and the Local Authority.

His contributions to parish life include sacramental preparation, being a Sunday steward and a member of the Finance Committee at OLK.

He has four grown up children and is a keen follower of anything sports related.


Mark Dalton

Vice Chair of the Blessed Christopher Wharton Catholic Academy Trust

Parish: SS Peter & Paul, Yeadon

Mark was raised in rural East Yorkshire but moved to Leeds in 2000. A Chartered Accountant and registered auditor, Mark is a partner in a firm of accountants in north Leeds where his main work is in respect of auditing small and medium sized entities and company tax planning.

When he is not in the office Mark can usually be found on a moor (out walking), at sea (fishing), at York racecourse or Opera North.

Mark is the Trust's named person for Whistleblowing


Clare Bussingham

Parish: Our Lady and the First Martyrs’, Bradford

Clare was born in Bradford and went to St Cuthbert and the First Martyrs’ Primary School followed by St Edmund Campion and St Joseph’s College. She went on to study Theology and Public Media at Trinity and All Saints. 

Clare’s career has been based in the marketing, communications and media industry. She works for Bradford Council as Marketing Communications Manager, managing the Council’s strategic response to communication and messaging around highly complex, sensitive or contentious issues with a high risk to the Council’s reputation, to groups or differing stakeholders, including local, regional and national media, and supports the direction and development of required work programmes. Her main focus is on supporting communities and making the district 'Safe, Clean and Active'. This includes her interest in environmental issues, recycling and looking after the planet.

She has been a Governor and Chair at St Cuthbert and the First Martyrs' Catholic Primary School for many years, also serving more recently on the board of the CSPTSA.

She is the proud mum of four fantastic young adults and is an active member of her parish where she helps with the children's liturgy group and Messy Church. She is also a lifelong Girl Guider, running a Rainbow Unit and supporting the Guides.


Roxanna Drake

Roxanna has been a headteacher for two Catholic primary schools in the Diocese of Leeds. She has taught and been involved in Catholic education throughout her career principally in schools in Redcar, Leeds, Keighley, Halifax and Dewsbury.

Because of her interest in schooling and education she has been fortunate to gain three masters degrees. Since retiring Roxanna has travelled a lot and followed her interest in languages, culture and people. 

She has supported the Diocese as a Section 48 inspector, as a member of appeals panels for Catholic schools and her local Parish of St Cuthbert’s and The First Martyrs as the Safeguarding Parish representative. Roxanna has also enjoyed having the the opportunity to visit the Parish school and listen to and encourage Year 2 readers.

Roxanna is the Trust's named person for Child Protection and Safeguarding


Sarah Martin

Parish: St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Shipley

Sarah has lived in Yorkshire for the past 30 years originally moving to Yorkshire for University.  Sarah has worked in Law for almost 20 years, specialising in Personal Injury Litigation, but is currently taking a career break having realised during COVID that she wanted more and becoming a Director on the Trust Board of BCWCAT may just be what she’s looking for!  Sarah has also just applied for a Market Licence with the Local Authority, as she is organising and running a monthly farmers market in her community.

Sarah has been a Governor and Chair of St Walburga’s Catholic Primary School for the past 8 years.

In her spare time Sarah volunteers at a charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers, as well as enjoying being out in the fresh air walking the dog!  

Sarah has two amazing daughters both of whom attend SBSJ. 

Sarah is the Trust's named person for SEND and Pupil Premium

Duncan Martin

Although I began my Higher Education experience by taking a degree in Astrophysics at Birmingham, I transferred to a BEd course in 1989. I then completed a four-year BEd, training as a secondary teacher of Science, Geography and Outdoor Education at Liverpool John Moores University, and graduated in 1993. I then went on to study a PhD in Educational Programme Evaluation in an Outdoor Centre on the West Coast of Scotland.

My professional life began by teaching environmental education, science education, physics education, outdoor education and outdoor learning, mountaineering and rock climbing, research methods, dissertation supervision for Undergraduate Students, Masters Students and PhD candidates, and Education Studies.
I have a background in Health and Safety, Assessment Oversight and Quality Assurance and Enhancement and leadership of the School of Teacher Education at Leeds Trinity University.
I am nationally networked and sit on boards and committees at the Catholic Education Service, Leeds Diocese schools Networks, Guild HE, Million Plus, Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, the Cathedrals Group Education Committee, and the Teacher Education Advisory Group.

Currently I am interim Dean of the Institute of Childhood and Education with over a 100 academic staff and visiting lecturers, 1,800 students, trainees and qualified teachers. 

Keiron Walker

From September 2023 we welcome Father Keiron to BCWCAT as a Trust Board Director


Curtis Ledger

Parish: Our Lady of Kirkstall, Holy Name Cookridge

Curtis was born in Wakefield, and attended school at Sacred Heart, Hemsworth and St Wilfrid’s, Featherstone prior to studying Mathematics and Management Studies at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

After graduation, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PwC in Leeds and has carried out several senior finance roles across a number of industries since leaving PwC in July 2000.  He is currently Head of Finance at MMS, an insurance company based in Farsley.

Curtis is involved in a number of voluntary roles, including serving on the Finance Committee of Our Lady of Kirkstall parish since 2012, and has served as a Magistrate on the West Yorkshire Bench since 2019.  He is also a member of the core volunteer teams for Woodhouse Moor parkrun and Bodington junior parkrun.  When not volunteering, he is currently working his way towards completing his 100th parkrun.

Curtis is married with two daughters who attend Holy Name Primary and Cardinal Heenan High Schools in Leeds.

Curtis is an independent member of the Trust's Audit Committee