BROCKENHURST College is flying high with a former RAF air commodore taking command in the new year.
Outgoing principal and chief executive Di Roberts, who is stepping down after 14 years in the post, is being replaced by Air Commodore SN Perkins – known as Polly – who will start work on 1st January.
She was recently made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her work as deputy commander and chief of staff for British forces in Cyprus, and for more than 30 years’ service to the RAF.
Having joined aged 18 as a supply officer after schooling in Lincolnshire, Air Cdre Perkins was an expert in logistics. Successive promotions to squadron leader, wing commander and then air commodore followed.
She also holds an MA in defence studies from King’s College London.
Cyprus was her last deployment with the RAF, previous ones having included Kosovo and Afghanistan.
A 2007 posting to Virginia in the US saw Air Cdre Perkins help develop practices to enable Nato nations to streamline their logistics on operations.
She said her career change was spurred by a wish to continue working closely with people and bring the skills she has learnt working in complex environments to education.
“I feel really excited about my new role at Brock – actually, I can’t wait,” Air Cdre Perkins said.
“I spent a few days at Brock in September as part of my transition from the military. I met with various teams across the college and everyone was inspirational. Afterwards I felt invigorated.”
She paid tribute to her predecessor Mrs Roberts, also a CBE, who has been credited with overseeing significant growth at the college since becoming its principal in 2006.
“The legacy that Di Roberts is leaving is enormous and I want to carry it on,” she continued.
“I’d like to build resilience and continue to strive for educational excellence for all.
“The college is proud to be inclusive and aims to help everyone achieve their full potential no matter what their background, academic ability or future goals. This same ethos will remain at the forefront of everything we will do under my leadership.”
She added: “One of the reasons I applied to be principal at Brock was because it is the kind of place where people care for others, plus I know all the staff are prepared to go the extra mile.”
Air Cdre Perkins currently lives in Cornwall and enjoys writing poetry, DIY, mountain-biking and sea-kayaking.
Welcoming the new principal, chair of governors Graham Beards said: “Without doubt, Polly is going to be a very worthy successor to Di Roberts, who has been an outstanding and inspirational principal.”