The King’s School has paid a huge vote of thanks to two governors who played a key role in developing their new £60 million campus.
The Chair of Governors during the ground-breaking development John Kennerley and the Vice Chair John Sugden, are both stepping down after 15 years unpaid and often unseen service. To many pupils and parents, they might be unrecognisable, but their contribution in re-establishing King’s as one of England’s great schools has been immense.Pictured on the left is John Kennerley and, on the right, is John Sugden
Both began their work as governors while in senior positions with AstraZeneca, and both realised King’s had to deal with the growing practical and economic concerns of operating on two sites if it were to continue its impressive 500-year history.
Former pupil John Sugden spelled out the issues: “When we started, the school was wrestling with having its resources, staff and pupils spread across two sites. It wanted to invest in new and better facilities, but this would have meant duplicating facilities at both sites. It simply did not make financial sense.”
John Kennerley emphasised how far the school has come: “We are all so delighted with our superb, new outstanding teaching and learning facilities. They enable a huge range of extracurricular activities to be offered to our pupils which contribute enormously to their personal development.
“The new campus is also a wonderful resource for the wider community and is regularly used by local sports clubs and charities.”
John Kennerley, who obtained a first-class Pharmacy degree, and a Ph.D. from Nottingham University is a senior Pharmacologist who enjoyed a high-ranking25-year career with AstraZeneca, retiring as Global Vice President and Head of Project and Portfolio Management in Global Development.
First as a member of the Education Committee then as Vice Chair and for eight years as Chair of Governors, John devoted his time unpaid to transforming King’s into one of the best built and resourced schools nationwide. A keen golfer who lives in Tytherington with his wife Debbie and who has two grown-up sons and a three-year-old granddaughter, John said: “Clearly the new school is fantastic and a great achievement for all those who worked on it at different times.
He added: “My other highlight has been to hear the feedback from two full Independent Schools’ Inspectorate (ISI) inspections when King’s received “excellent” ratings in all aspects considered by the inspection team. To receive such praise from an external review is rare indeed and I know that all members of the school were rightly proud of this outcome.”
Having given so much time and energy to King’s, ironically John is not a former pupil himself, but he explained: “My father was a King’s pupil in the late 1920s and my two sons attended the school, from the Junior School up to Year 13, which is how I first became involved.”
In his career, John was a manager and innovator with a succession of jobs in Research and Development, leading talented but disparate teams which was ideal experience for his voluntary work at King’s. He said: “This involved leading a large organisation of scientists and support staff in Sweden, UK and the USA.”
John Sugden is a former pupil, remembered as a tough rugby lock forward with both King’s and Macclesfield RUFC, who went up to Peterhouse, Cambridge to gain a first-class degree in Engineering.
In his career, he enjoyed a variety of engineering and general management roles around the world ending as a Global Vice President with AstraZeneca.
As a governor at King’s for 15 years, his specific interests were general and financial management, particularly safety management, bringing his expertise from his VP role at AZ which included global Safety, Health and Environment, for the world leader.
John said: “The highlight has to be new school. This played into my career experience in project, contract, and construction management.
“The new school has fulfilled or bettered my expectations. I never thought we would get there at the start, it all seemed too difficult, but we kept on and the response from pupils and parents has been great as demonstrated by the growth in pupil numbers.”
In 2013, John started up a consultancy business advising on engineering matters, especially turn-a-rounds of failing projects.
Following five years of success, he closed the business in 2018 and is currently executive chairman of BGEN Ltd., which is a privately-owned engineering design company.
He said: “I am currently working and enjoying life with my wife Kay. We have two grown-up daughters, both former King’s pupils, of whom we are very proud. One lives in Macclesfield, the other in Cambridge. Outside work I enjoy sport, walking, physical fitness and as time allows am re-awakening a dormant interest in literature.”
King’s Head of Foundation, Jason Slack, whose appointment was overseen by the two Johns, said: “During a momentous period in our 520-year history, King’s has been blessed with a Governing Body with not only drive and determination, but aspiration, vision, and a meticulous attention to detail.
Both John Kennerley and John Sugden can be extremely proud of their and their team’s immense contribution.”