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Board of Trustees Profiles

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Elizabeth Crees

Elizabeth is a teacher at a local primary school and is part of the Senior Leadership Team, Head of Maths, Modern Foreign Languages Subject Leader and the Head of the School Council. 

Prior to this she had a career as a solicitor working in firms in Ipswich, Colchester and Clacton. 

She has two children, one of whom attends the academy. She is passionate about giving children a voice and self-belief, to ensure that every child can become the best they can be. She also has a keen interest in making sure that the curriculum is rich, broad and balanced. Elizabeth has prior experience of being a trustee at a local charity and has run a number of children's groups in North Essex on a voluntary basis. Originally from Leicestershire, Elizabeth has lived in a village close to Maldon for twenty years, and enjoys sailing, walking and being part of the community. 

Jennifer Ellum

Jennifer spent most of her childhood in Maldon and attended the Plume School before studying Law at the University of Southampton and qualifying as a solicitor in 2008. She then worked for 10 years in the City of London for two multi-national law firms, specialising in insurance law and litigation. For the past six years, Jennifer has worked within the claims group of a global insurance company. She has three young children and lives with her family in the local area. This is Jennifer's first trustee role and she is very much looking forward to using her skills and experience to help the academy. 

Denise Gray

A midwife with over 25 years’ experience in maternity services throughout the East of England, Denise is currently a Consultant Midwife at one of the UK’s largest Maternity Units situated in East London. She has a particular interest in safeguarding, wellbeing and promoting a positive culture, with extensive experience gained throughout her years of NHS practice in a variety of settings

Denise has lived in the Maldon area for over 20 years and currently has two children at the Plume School and another two whom attended previously. Denise has previously undertaken a Governor role at her children’s primary school


Mark Howell

Mark is an IT professional with more than 40 years’ experience. He has worked in many industry sectors including Automotive, Banking, Stock Broking, Pharmaceuticals, Oil, local government and charity. He has been a school trustee since 1997. Mark is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, the link trustee for Health and Safety, Chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Strategic Development Committee. Mark has a son at the school, and his daughter and nieces attended the school prior to attending university. Mark moved to Maldon in 2004 and his local interest is focused on the Chelmer & Blackwater canal where he has a boat moored. His many interests include improving the local environment. Mark’s vision for Plume Academy is that is the first choice for Maldon parents - he expects the school to play a key part in ensuring that its students have the key skills required to lead a rewarding and happy life.

Laura Marshall

Laura is a qualified teacher who has worked in various roles within education for nearly 20 years. Laura has previous Senior Leadership experience across Teaching and Learning and Early Career Teacher support: establishing an Initial Teacher Training provision as a lead school as part of a consortium. Laura is extremely passionate about teacher training and development to support our next generation of teachers. Since 2016 Laura has worked for TES and since 2018 as a Programme Director. During her time at TES, Laura has gained experience across a variety of teacher training programmes and believes that supporting teachers in their professional development leads to improved outcomes therefore ensuring every child has access to high-quality education. Laura works with schools across a wide range of settings with Senior Leads and teachers from all over the UK and the world, working in partnership to support recruitment, training and retention. Laura manages several programmes at TES; Subject Knowledge Enhancement which supports applicants prior to starting Initial Teacher Training, Straight to Teaching which is a preparation programme for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) for unqualified teachers and Assessment Only for those staff who are ready to be recommended for QTS.


Laura started her teaching career at Plume Academy so being able to support the school as a Trustee is a real honour. Laura is passionate about education which has the power to change individuals’ lives, families, and communities. With her eldest son in Year 7 at Plume Academy, Laura hopes her skills and education experience can support the Academy in its continued vision for excellence with successful futures for all students. 


Laura is a classically trained musician and still actively performs in orchestras across the region. When not playing she supports her local sailing club and her son’s passion for sailing around the UK. 

Kay Mehrtens

I have lived in the Maldon area for over 30 years.  Both of my children attended the Plume and were well supported and educated.  I have had a long career in social care in various roles withing mental health and children’s services, before retiring four years ago.  I enjoy working with young people and have always sought to help them achieve their potential.  On a personal note, I keep myself fit through walking, swimming and sailing and I have a somewhat obsessional love of opera!  So I have varied, individual skills to offer the school as well as a commitment to helping young people achieve their potential and get a good education.

Sarah Milward

I have worked as a primary teacher for 22 years. I have two children, one of whom has just started secondary school. I am passionate about education and would relish the opportunity to be on the other side of the process. I believe that my teaching experience allows me to have a unique understanding of the pressures facing the school staff whilst my role as a parent allows me to also appreciate the need for the schools duty of care to provide the best education and support the students growth. Hopefully, balancing both these roles will allow me to serve Plume as best I can. 

Sarah Robinson

Sarah has worked within commercial real estate for 20 years, starting her career as an accountant. She is a now a Partner of a London firm of Chartered Surveyors, acting as a Property Asset Manager, looking after a large portfolio of office, leisure, retail and residential properties across the UK.

Sarah has lived in Maldon for over 10 years, and her son attends a local primary school.

She is very much looking forward to using her knowledge and skills developed throughout her career, to help the Academy.

Lisa Smart

Lisa’s career in the environmental sector has spanned 30 years, working for Natural England, the National Trust, Essex Wildlife Trust before moving to Essex County Council. 

She manages a large countywide team, encompassing nature reserve management, trading activities and community events. A key role is to ensure accessibility and inclusivity across parks. She is a trained ecologist, having studied her Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and her Master’s in Ecology.

Both of Lisa’s children attended the academy; her son attends Plume College and her daughter is now at the University of Surrey. Her passion is for ensuring that students of all ages experience the benefits of engaging with the natural world, particularly in relation to mental health and sustainable lifestyles. In her spare time, she enjoys sailing and walking Essex’s 350-miles of stunning coastline. 

Judy Smith

I have always lived in Maldon.  On leaving grammar school, I joined Barclays Bank working in three local branches, and then moved to work as a secretary for an agricultural company before having my son and daughter.  I then joined the family business until our retirement.  I am a member of Maldon Rotary Club and am currently serving my second term as President coupled with that of Secretary.  I am involved with the academy as a reading intervention assistant as I am a great believer in the power of reading.  I gain great satisfaction from seeing an improvement in a student's reading skills.  I had a granddaughter attend the academy and a grandson and two great-nephews are still attending.

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Tim Bailey

Whilst Tim was brought up and educated in Braintree, Maldon was always a place of significance for him. His father had been active in the sea cadets and as a result Maldon and Heybridge were frequent childhood destinations. When he was looking to relocate to Essex in 2009 the area was a natural choice.

Tim is a career Banker having worked for one organisation the whole of his working life. For the last 30 years he has worked in various roles in the Corporate arena. His current position is heading up the restructuring team covering London and the South of England.

They look after medium to larger businesses that get into difficulty and need intensive support. 

Throughout his career he has held a number of external interests including Governor at Colchester Institute and a Director at Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (COLBEA). He has taken many opportunities to support schools and colleges where he has been based. He is passionate to see all children reach the most of their potential.

Currently he is Vice Commodore and Treasurer of Goldhanger Sailing Club.

He has 4 children, one of whom is a student at the Plume. His interests include sailing/kayaking/paddle boarding, walking and fishing.

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