Sarah McCarthy-Fry

(Panel Chair) GKN

Sarah McCarthy-Fry has been the Chair of the Solent LEP Employment and Skills Board since July 2013. Sarah is Finance Director at GKN Aerospace Cowes on the Isle of Wight, a large high tech engineering manufacturer operating in a global market. Sarah has held a variety of financial roles within GKN in the UK, USA and Germany.

Sarah is well known in the Solent area from previous roles in both local and national  Government. She was Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council between 1995 and 2000 and later MP for Portsmouth North between 2005 and 2010. During her parliamentary career Sarah held a number of ministerial posts including Parliamentary Secretary of State and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

Sarah lives in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. In her spare time she sings in the local church choir and with a musical variety group as well as walking with her dog in the beautiful countryside on the Isle of Wight.

Chris Allington

Innovation Environments Ltd

Graham Ellis

Ellis Transport

David Pollard


David started with a degree level apprenticeship in the RAF, gaining a degree in aeronautical engineering and management. He became a staff officer at 23, which gave him the motivation to find another career.  Since leaving the RAF he has worked in large corporates, run medium sized businesses and his own small business as a management consultant and interim executive. More recently he has been a trainer and a mentor to business owners.

He led the Federation of Small Businesses policy work on Education and Skills for five years. As a result he was a member of the steering group for the Richard Review of Apprenticeships that led to significant changes to apprenticeships and then a member of the review panel for the Apprenticeship Standards produced by the trailblazer groups. As the chair of the trailblazer group for the Entrepreneur Apprenticeship he is now on the other side of the fence!  

In addition to his engineering degree he has an MBA from Cranfield and for a number of years was an associate lecturer at the Open University on finance, change management and strategy courses. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the RSA.

Sarah Stannard

City College Southampton

Sarah Stannard has been Principal and Chief Executive of City College Southampton since the summer of 2013.  She was previously a Vice Principal at Chichester College, one of England’s largest and most successful colleges. Her career also includes management consultancy with global businesses and national public sector organisations, and marketing and sales roles for FMCG companies. 

City College is Southampton’s general further education college.  It educates and trains around 7,000 people a year, including: 1,300 young people, 1000 apprentices, 200 higher education students (often adults in work and studying part-time) and about 3,500 adults a year.  The college is committed to providing education for all its community to ensure they have the right skills for work and life but has particularly invested in specialist facilities for Marine, Engineering and Construction as well as the Creative and Performing Arts to meet the needs of local employers.

Anne-Marie Mountifield

Solent LEP

Anne-Marie Mountifield is the Chief Executive of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership an organisation which works collaboratively with partners across the 12 Solent Local councils, businesses, colleges and the Universities to help shape the region’s future economic growth. Her role is to lead the Solent LEP towards its objective to make Solent a £30 billion economy by 2020, whilst working to deliver an investment plan for the area worth £1.51 billion over the same period

For more than 20 years of her career, Anne-Marie has held senior executive leadership posts in Further Education, the Civil Service  (for the Department of Business Innovation an Skills) and Local government before taking up the role at Solent LEP as Chief Executive in 2012.

Her professional background started in industry, moving on to further education and skills and local government before taking up her current role where she leads on the roll out of the Solent Strategic Economic Plan.

Anne-Marie is a member of the Institute of Directors and is also a member of the Web Science Institute Advisory Board.

Huw Chapman

Boosting Business Performance Ltd

Anna Marshall


Cllr Darren Paffey

Southampton City Council

Cllr Trevor Cartwright

Fareham Borough Council

Mark Cooper

University of Portsmouth

Lester Biddle


Lester is Chair and Director of ALPHI (since 2017) and has been an active member of the group for the past 12 years.   Lester has a passion and drive for the employment and skills agenda, having worked in FE for over 20 years, gaining valuable experience in the delivery of apprenticeships, traineeships and commercial training opportunities.  Qualified as an educator and graduating with a Masters in Leadership in 2003, Lester has been involved in several initiatives and projects in the Solent region looking specifically at identification of skills gaps and employment opportunities.  Lester was also previously a Business Development Director for a local charity working with youth employment opportunities.

Lester has lived in the Solent area for over 30 years and enjoys many countryside walks with his dog and also entertaining visitors from all over the world, to showcase  the rich heritage and natural beauty the local area has to offer. 

Rachael Randall

Skills Board Director Lead