Sunderland College chief and North East education leader receives OBE from Prince William at Windsor Castle
Sunderland College chief and regional education leader, Ellen Thinnesen, has enjoyed a “truly memorable” day at Windsor Castle where she received her OBE from Prince William.
Ellen, who is also Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East which oversees Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form, was given the accolade in last year’s Queen’s New Year Honours List, but due to the impact of the pandemic has had wait to officially receive the prestigious award.
After receiving the award from the Duke of Cambridge, Ellen said: “The investiture at Windsor Castle was a lovely day. Being among so many dedicated and remarkable people who have had such a significant impact on their communities was a truly memorable and humbling experience.
“I would like to thank the inspirational people that I am privileged to work with every day who have made this a reality. This includes my excellent leadership team and wider college staff, national, regional and local partners and many other supporters and stakeholders."
Ellen was given the award for her “outstanding contribution to education” and in particular the partnership’s focus on supporting the region’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable students, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.
She began her career as a qualified nurse, working in hospitals in the Yorkshire and Humber and central London before progressing to a career in Further and Higher Education.
Ellen was appointed Chief Executive and Principal at Sunderland College in 2016 and became Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East in 2019.
She added: “There are so many people who have been instrumental in my career and the success of the vision and strategy of Education Partnership North East. The award of my OBE is attributable to my supportive family, but most importantly, to those colleagues, past and present, who have believed in the vision and shown tremendous dedication to the service of others.
"I am continually grateful for this.”
Rob Lawson, former Chair of Governors at Education Partnership North East, who also received an OBE, added: “On behalf of the board and all of the staff and students at Education Partnership North East I would like to congratulate Ellen on her investiture at Windsor Castle. It is richly deserved and we’re delighted her inspirational leadership and positive impact within the education sector has been formally recognised.”