Tributes to retired CEO who 'worked tirelessly' for town

Dr Duncan Ramsey and Jonathan Digby

Dr Duncan Ramsey (left), CEO of the Aspire Learning Trust, with retired CEO Jonathan Digby. - Credit: RWT Photography/Fenland Youth Radio

Friends, family and former colleagues have paid tribute to a retired education chief who spent 32 years in the sector. 

Jonathan Digby retired as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Aspire Learning Trust, which runs primary and secondary schools in Whittlesey, last year. 

But on October 18, he was finally able to have a tribute event, albeit delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, at New Road Primary School in honour of his work. 

Dr Duncan Ramsey, who took over from Mr Digby as CEO of the Aspire Learning Trust in August last year, said his predecessor “worked tirelessly” for his local community. 

“He worked over a long period of time serving the community of Whittlesey and the surrounding villages,” Dr Ramsey said. 

“Jonathan helped improve all the schools he supported and developed a powerful Trust vision.” 

Jonathan Digby with lifetime achievement award

Jonathan Digby (right) presented with a lifetime achievement award for his services to education. - Credit: RWT Photography/Fenland Youth Radio

As part of the tribute event, artwork from Lydia Sayer was also on show. 

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Lydia, a sixth form student at Sir Harry Smith Community College, spent over 100 hours creating a work of art which was presented to Mr Digby, depicting his interests and working life.   

Jonathan Digby and Sir Harry Smith student

Jonathan Digby with sixth form student Lydia Sayer next to artwork she produced of him. - Credit: RWT Photography/Fenland Youth Radio

Mr Digby spent over three decades in education, teaching children from the age of three to 18-years-old. 

After having a secondment year at university where he helped teach the next generation of teachers, he became principal of Sir Harry Smith Community College in 2008. 

In 2016, Mr Digby was appointed as CEO of the Aspire Learning Trust, where he stayed for four years. 

Jonathan with wife Dr Julie Digby

Jonathan Digby with wife Dr Julie Digby. - Credit: RWT Photography/Fenland Youth Radio

“I knew Jonathan as we had worked together on a range of school improvement activities,” Dr Ramsey said.  

“I found him to be dedicated, calm and always putting children first. 

“I consider it a real privilege to take on this role.” 

The Trust has spent £280,000 on its primary schools last year, on top of a long-term £6m programme to be spent on Sir Harry Smith Community College. 

Artwork of former Aspire CEO Jonathan Digby

Artwork of Jonathan Digby produced by Sir Harry Smith Community College sixth form student Lydia Sayer. - Credit: RWT Photography/Fenland Youth Radio

Dr Ramsey said the challenge to improve is tough, but is confident it can be achieved. 

“The challenge to get all our schools to outstanding is a tough one but one I believe we will be successful in,” he added. 

“I have already had support from the Trust board, local governing bodies, staff and parents in the 14 months I have been in the role, and I am pleased with the progress that has been made so far.”