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St Cuthbert's Society College Advisory Board


At St Cuthbert's Society, our advisory board is a distinguished group of experts helping to raise our College profile and provide guidance, knowledge and skills to our students.


Peter Standfield (Chair)

headshot of Peter Standfield

Following successful careers in the Army, the NHS and the private sector, Peter is currently enjoying a portfolio approach as an independent consultant and an associate with various organisations, providing business planning, programme leadership and corporate governance support through interim engagements, consultancy appointments and non-executive roles. A keen amateur musician (French Horn), Peter served for six years on the North East Regional Council of Arts Council England, culminating as Regional Chair and a trustee of Arts Council England. In 2021, he was appointed by the Ministry of Defence to provide independent and apolitical advice on issues and services for Armed Forces’ veterans, as a member of the North East Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committee. He is also a volunteer consultant with the Cranfield Trust chairs the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society. 

An alumnus of the Durham University Business School, Peter joined the Cuth’s College Council as a community representative in 2012, supported the JCR through its transition to independent charitable status, and was invited to join the College Advisory Board when it replaced the Council in 2018

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Ben Thomas

Ben is the President of the Society for this year, having already been President last year as well. He graduated from Durham University with an undergraduate degree in Music. As President, Ben is responsible for overseeing the work of the JCR, including all of the sports, societies, events, opportunities, activism, volunteering, and fundraising the JCR runs within Cuth’s, and also acts as the primary representative of the interests of Cuth’s students to the University. Over his time here, Ben has been closely involved in the JCR’s governance.

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Barbara Harrison

Barbara Harrison headshotBarbara Harrison was formerly a Student Support Officer at St Cuthbert's Society, retiring in 2014. She spent 25 years at New College Durham, a college of Further and Higher Education until, as Assistant Principal, she took a career break to complete a Masters in Disability Studies. Barbara has been a Trustee and a chair of a number of charities supporting education, and was a trustee of Cuth's JCR Charity from its inception. She retains close links with the Society as a Fellow and as a member of the College Advisory Board

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Sarah McAllister

Sarah McAllister is the Postgraduate and Mature Students' President in the JCR. Having first arrived in Durham in 2016 to undertake her undergraduate degree, Sarah is currently a PhD Student in English and History. During her time in Durham, Sarah has been heavily involved in the JCR having been Art Society President for three years as well as previously being the PGM Pres in 2019-2020 during her masters degree. As the PGM President, Sarah is responsible for overseeing the organisation of events for Postgrads and Mature Students, as well as representing them in the JCR, College and wider university. 


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Rhiannon Bearne

Rhiannon B headshotRhiannon Bearne is Inclusive Economy Adviser at the North of Tyne Combined Authority and is responsible for a suite of projects covering poverty, equity and inclusion. Previously Head of Policy at national social care charity Changing Lives, Rhiannon has built a career in external affairs with an emphasis on devolution. Originally from London, Rhiannon was an undergraduate at St Aidan’s College between 2000-2003.

 She is a former Trustee and Chair of the Millfield House Foundation, a grant making charity devoted to policy and campaigns work in the North East, and a former member of the Association of Charitable Foundation’s Funding Practices Working Group.


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Caleb Ross

Caleb Ross is a current first year English Literature student at St Cuthbert’s Society. Caleb’s role on the college advisory board is to provide student perspective and provide a longevity to the membership of the board as he will continue to be a part of it until he graduates in 2026. Caleb is heavily involved in student life and particularly within the JCR as someone passionate about student welfare and the interests of disabled students. During his gap year he worked closely with the chief SENCO within a secondary school and volunteered at his local autism charity, FACTS.


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Dan Mercer

Dan Mercer is a third year BSc Maths and Philosophy Student your current Senior Welfare Officer for the JCR and the elected President of the Society for next academic year. As a three-year member of the College Advisory Board, Dan offers perspective on change between years as witnessed through his time on the board throughout his undergraduate degree. Throughout his time on the CAB Dan has held roles on the JCR alongside his degree: Working Class Students Rep, Communities Committee Chair, Male Welfare Officer, and Senior Welfare Officer. Although the role is not directly linked to membership on the board, Dan’s role as Senior Welfare Officers for the JCR leaves him responsible for student welfare within the college from a peer perspective. As chair of the Welfare Committee, he works alongside the rest of the welfare team within the JCR to ensure that student support remains accessible, inclusive, and productive. Offering 4 hours of non-advisory, non-judgemental active listening service for students to come to each week, as well as providing campaigns throughout the year to destigmatise and empower the student body on sexual and mental health topics. As President Elect of the Society, Dan will continue his role on the College Advisory Board next year.