Hopwood Hall College principal joins RDA board

Date published: 13 July 2020

The principal of Hopwood Hall College has been appointed to the board of Rochdale Development Agency.

Julia Heap said it was an ‘honour’ to join the board and pledged to use her role to continue to raise the profile of skills and education. She joined the college five years ago and was promoted to principal in April 2019. A qualified accountant she oversees a workforce of 450 staff and an organisation with a budget of £24m. 

The college, which has 3,000 students aged between 16-18, 3,000 adult learners and more than 300 apprentices, has been widely praised for its response to Covid-19 and looking after the welfare of its learners. Julia said: “Rochdale is a friendly, energetic place that is full of passionate people. There’s a real energy in the borough and there’s a vibrant business sector.

“I’m honoured to be joining the RDA board. The arrival of economist Paul Ormerod has added to the energy that has been growing. As well as being a Rochdalian passionate about the borough, he brings with him an objective macro view that we can benefit from.”

Julia is originally from Oldham but has lived in Rochdale for the last five years. She said: “My eldest son Niall went to Hopwood Hall College to do a BTEC in sport so I’ve always felt a connection with Rochdale.

“Although my background is in accountancy I started my career working as an adult apprentice in a builder’s merchants in Oldham. I understand the importance of skills and training in the workspace and giving an opportunity to young people.

“Rochdale is a wonderful place to live and work. If anyone has any preconceptions they immediately change upon visiting the borough. The people are its strength and the diversity is a real positive. The work in the town centre has been transformational.”

Julia, who has three children and is a big rugby league fan, predicted the best days are ahead for Rochdale.

“I’m really looking forward to building on the good work that has already taken part,” she said. “You saw how the business sector has come together during Covid-19.”

Paul Ormerod, chairman of Rochdale Development Agency, said: “Julia brings a wide range of skills to the role, from her accountancy background to her vast experience in the further education sector. Julia has been the principal at Hopwood Hall College for just over a year and is already making her mark by delivering some excellent projects and dealing with the challenge of Covid-19.

“She offers a different perspective and has already agreed to chair a new RDA sub-committee focusing on the labour force and skills.”

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