Blessed Christopher Wharton, Catholic Academy Trust

CEO/Accounting Officer

Dr Andrew Morley

Trust Board Directors

Mr Joe McDonnell - Chair

Mr Mark Dalton - Vice Chair

Mr John Devlin 

Mr Paul Booth

Mrs Clare Bussingham

Professor Paul Ryan

Mr Jonathan Howell

Mrs Roxanna Drake

Father Paul Grogan 

Mrs Sarah Martin


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.



 John Devlin

Parish : Our Lady of Victories and St. Anne, Keighley

John is Executive Head at Our Lady of Victories, St Joseph's Keighley and St Anne's. He is extremely passionate about giving our children the best possible start in life. Primary school should be the best years of pupils’ lives and he believes that an exciting, personalised curriculum is the key to this.

John has recently been appointed an NLE, and is looking forward to the challenge that this role will bring. He sees it as a real privilege to work with other school leaders to bring about change and better life chances for children.
John is husband to Beth and is the father of two children who attend Catholic schools in Keighley. He attended St. Anne's and Holy Family himself as a child.



Paul Booth

Parish : St John Mary Vianney, Leeds

Paul started as Head of School at St Anne’s in Keighley in September 2018 having previously been Head of School at Our Lady of Victories for 3 years. He is committed to ensuring that all children receive a high quality Catholic education and have the best possible start in life. He believes that primary school should be exciting and engaging and that the children should enjoy coming into school each day to learn.

Catholic education has played a huge part in Paul’s life. He attended St Joseph’s Primary School in Brighouse before his family moved to Keighley and he joined Holy Family Secondary School.  After leaving school he trained to become a teacher and has taught at St Anne’s, St Matthew’s in Bradford and Our Lady of Victories in Keighley.


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.



Professor Paul Ryan

Paul joined the Blessed Christopher Wharton Catholic Academy Trust in July 2020 and since May 2020 has held the post of Head of the School of Social and Health Sciences at Leeds Trinity University with a key focus on empowering students and anchoring the institution in the local community. 

Paul's career in Higher Education started at Staffordshire University as Deputy Director of Recreational Services, Director of the Regional Sports Performance Centre and Institute for Health Research. He was then appointed Postgraduate Lead and External Partnerships Director. This involved the co-ordination of postgraduate provision within the Health area and the strategic management of external projects and partnerships.

Paul then moved to Newman University Birmingham as Head of department for Physical Education and Sport Studies. This involved the overall leadership of the subject area specifically in maintaining the highest quality standards in service and delivery to Newman's students. Paul was then promoted to the post of Associate Dean in the School of Human Sciences where he worked with, and directed, School and Service colleagues in the development of a formative student experience and the validation of new programmes and initiatives.

Paul then joined Regent’s University London as the Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Experience and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences. As a member of the University’s senior management team Paul had responsibility for specific aspects of the University’s corporate strategy and activity which includes developing a comprehensive strategy for improving the student experience.



Jonathan Howell

Jonathan has been an independent consultant for the last 30 years, working on many historic landmark Programmes of work. He is a Business and IT Management Consultant who specialises in Project & Programme recovery.  He is a qualified Professional Facilitator and Agility Coach.

Whilst he lives locally, during normal circumstances he spends weekdays away from home, predominantly in Scotland or Europe.

With a bias towards technology, he is a former University Lecturer who is also qualified in governance, strategy, operational architecture, financials, communications and stakeholder management.

He is a foundation governor at The Holy Family School Keighley; the school that he attended in his earlier years.  He also remains an active member of St. Anne’s Church in Keighley, where he is a Silver Medal holder for the Guild of St Steven's.



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.



Paul Grogan

Parish Priest of the Parish of Mary, Mother of God, Bradford

He attended St Peter and Paul Primary School, Yeadon and St Mary's Comprehensive School, Guiseley and then completed an English degree at Selwyn College, Cambridge University. After three years working as a journalist for The Universe, he studied for the priesthood at the Venerable English College and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, being ordained in 1994.

He has had four parish appointments and has served in a number of other roles, including as Chaplain at Wetherby Young Offenders' Institution, Chaplain in the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Chaplain at Corpus Christi High School, Leeds and Yorkshire Martyrs Catholic College, Bradford, Dean of Bradford South Deanery, Bishop's Secretary, Vocations Director and Chaplain at Leeds Trinity University.

He is keen that the Trust provide an environment in which children and young people discover God in the midst of discovering many varied features of God's world in the curriculum.



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.