Tod College

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I’ve run my own business in Todmorden since 1989, initially a women’s roofing and building company (Amazon Nails) now Straw Works (Architects) and since 2014 also the School of Natural Building. Designed & helped build 2-300 affordable & healthy buildings. Author of ‘Building with Straw Bales’ Currently working with 4 other EU countries on an Interreg funded project to increase the number of public buildings made of straw (Up Straw), writing Building Regs for straw buildings, and finalist in design competition for Homes 2030.

I am also working with EcoCocon straw panels as a way of bringing affordable healthy housing to a wider audience. Founder member of the Alliance of Sustainable Building Products, member of the Building Limes Forum and the Association of Environment Conscious Builders and Women & Manual Trades. Woman of Outstanding Achievement Award (UKRC), Lifetime Achievement Award (Women in Construction). Board member of Todmorden Town Deal Board and Todmorden Learning Centre. Worked with the Sisterhood & After project with British Library on my work in Women’s Liberation Movement.

I’m an entrepreneur, carpenter & joiner, designer, teacher, public speaker, member of the local lesbian community and have starred in Dragon’s Den, Country File, with my work on Grand Designs.

Catherine Bann was appointed Secretary to the Board in December 2018. She grew up in neighbouring Rossendale, was educated at Cambridge University, and started her career in qualitative market research.

She has spent many years community organising, being Chair of a local Tenants Association in Manchester during some major projects. She worked for Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and is now a COVID 19 Community Response Coordinator for Calderdale, as well as being the Clerk to Blackshaw Parish Council.

I left school after my A levels and worked my way up to CXO level in the Banking and Finance Industry.  My career started in programming back in 1978 then through system design, strategic design and into strategic business design and planning.  En route I worked for Pearl Assurance, TSB, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Yorkshire Building Society, holding the roles of Chief Technology Officer for the Business Banking Division of Lloyds where I was responsible for the division’s IT including the implementation of a completely new IT system for their operation in Miami, Florida and Chief Enterprise Architect at YBS where I was responsible for business design and governance (i.e. how customers, staff, processes, locations, offices and branches all operate together and the controls required in a regulated environment) and was chair of the CXO business-design strategy committee.  I have presented several times to international conferences held in London sharing leading practices with my peers across the Finance and Technology industries.  Founder member of a group for older LGBTQI+ people in Todmorden and a Town Councillor until May 2019.  Currently a trustee of the Fielden Centre Association and chair of the Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub.

I have a PhD in biochemistry from Imperial College, London awarded in 1982.  I have run a small solvent business since 1984 which has morphed through several forms and continues to generate enough income for me to volunteer full time at Incredible Farm. I am a polymath, with a career spanning science (post-doctoral researcher at Dyson Perrins Organic chemistry dept Oxford), sculpture (Fielden Wharf fish commission), building renovation (12 thousand sq ft derelict mill turned into an arts centre), support work, mail order classic car parts, invented, developed and marketed a line of unique products for the classic car market (several still available under the “Grumpy’s” Brand)  small scale manufacture of metal components, teaching science. I was treasurer and fundraiser for IET for the first 4 years, organising planting of 800 fruit trees round Todmorden and 90 new growing beds and author of the bulk of the early website material that continues to top the ratings. Chair of Harley Bank Community association during a multi £million housing regeneration project.

Robin Asby has had a varied life; born into a Royal Naval family in 1943 he attended 3 junior schools including one in New South Wales, and 3 secondary schools. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1965 with a degree in Mathematics, and gained a Doctorate from London University in 1968 in Mathematical Physics.  In his initial career he moved to a research post in Rochester NY in the United States, and subsequently back to the UK. From 1974 he spent 16 years training teachers in the teaching of mathematics and computing. During this time he was elected to the post of Treasurer of the Pembrokeshire Constituency Labour party for seven consecutive years and subsequently Vice Chair and chair for a further three years.  During this time, 1976-1979, he self-built a three bedroom detached house outside Narberth in Pembrokeshire. Following this he founded a small IT business installing microcomputer business systems in the early days of microcomputers, and in 1984 was elected a Narberth Town Councillor retiring eventually in 1996. 

Finding that most small business problems were largely problems of management in 1994 he joined what was then King Alfred’s College in Winchester as one of two appointees to found a new business department which has now become Winchester Business School.

From 1998 to 2006 his principal activity was consultancy work in conjunction with Hull University mentoring senior and middle managers in the Middle East, Far East, and UK in the development of their understanding and use of management theory in practice.  This work covered a range of topics and a variety of organisations, and resulted in a masters or doctoral dissertations for the University, new thinking for the organisation and advancement for the individual within their organisation. 

His major research interest is in the development of understanding in Systems Thinking, thinking in complex interconnected problem situations which involve many people and different cultural perspectives.  From 2001 he became an Open University Tutor, then a contributor to the development of systems thinking courses. He chaired the development of the Open University MSc ‘Systems Thinking in Practice’.  He is author of a shortly to be published book ‘Thinking Systems: an organic language of harmony for human survival’.

He has a strong interest in education. From 2000 -2012 he was a governor of Todmorden High School and was also a governor of Batley Girls’ High School 2002 -2015, in both cases having been elected vice chair and chair for a number of years. In 2014 he joined the board of the Incredible Farm in Todmorden.

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