About Us

Welcome To the

Northern Training Academy

The team at the Northern Training Academy are highly experienced in providing apprenticeship services for employers. Our national service allows employers to have their entire apprenticeship needs met, whilst having a flexible, high quality learning programme that benefits both the organisation and the learner.

Our team will plan, design, deliver and monitor the progress of your employees in an effective and collaborative way to ensure that you and your employees receive the very best service possible. Providing your employees with the skills, knowledge and tools necessary for your organisation will allow you to reap the benefits of more motivated staff, increased commitment and a better all-round service for your customers.

We work hard to prepare every candidate for their professional journey

Call us today on 07804 039861 to see how easily and cost effectively you can transform your people.
Mandy Priest
Business Development

Our Team

Jo Roche

Managing Director

07853 227608

Co-founder and Managing Director of Training For Travel – a privately owned Government funded training provider from April 1997 – September 2010.

I started Northern Training Academy in March 2015 and the company has been growing steadily. I have extensive work-based experience, both on the funding/contracting side and from an assessor/IV perspective.

MBA in Business Administration.

Specialties: Work based learning, contracting and funding experience, alongside assessing and internal verification experience across a wide range of qualifications.

Mandy Priest

Business Development Director

07804 039861

With over 20 years' experience in the learning sector I have been involved in the design and implementation of many successful Learning and Development Strategies for large organisations.

My roles past and present have included the development and management of apprenticeship programmes in line with the apprenticeship levy, working closely with FD's and board members to ensure businesses make the best of this additional bottom line cost.

Over the past 20 years I have also been involved in the more generic side of people development, including design and delivery of an array of bespoke soft skill training programmes and the implementation of ILM accredited management courses.

Alison Dutton

PA to Managing Director

I started my career working for a top firm of Chartered Accountants as a tax accountant.

After 12 years I changed my career to fit in with the family life to work in a school before finally joining Northern Training Academy.

My strengths are organisation and supporting people, my role includes making sure all staff have what they need which in turn supports the effectiveness and efficiency of making NTA a success.

Nicol Rippon

Quality & Curriculum Manager

I joined NTA in October 2018, my key role is to oversee the quality of the training that is received by all our apprentices and learners. I'm also responsible for ensuring that NTA meet the quality assurance standards expected by Awarding Organisations and inspection bodies.

You will also see me out and about, throughout the UK, conducting quality checks and delivering training and coaching across the range of provision we offer. I have worked in training and quality assurance in the UK and overseas for several years. In addition, I also carry out External Quality Assurance and End-Point Assessment – I like to keep busy!

When I am not working though, you’ll find me on my yoga mat! Yoga is my passion and I truly believe anyone can do it … so much so, I am now a yoga teacher too!

Adele Chester

HR Manager

I joined NTA in October 2017, initially as a Development Coach, however I have now changed role looking after the HR needs for the business and the team.

My background in retail was as a graduate trainee with Etam PLC where I managed a team of 32 staff in a flagship multi-site store. I then went into a sales role which included the training and coaching of all staff. I have an absolute passion for the development of people and love to see them grow through the apprenticeship journey not only in the business sense but to grow as individuals too.

In my personal life I am a mum to grown up children, which now gives me and my husband the chance to undertake one of my favourite pastimes – travel

Jeanette Hellowell

Finance & Data Manager

My role at NTA is Finance and Data Manager. My main responsibilities are to ensure that all the learners are processed in a timely manner and that the correct funding is received.

Part of my role is client liaison; I am the first port of call for employers and with current contracts we have weekly phone calls to discuss any positives or areas of concern from both parties. Due to my long and varied career I feel I have many transferable skills to bring to NTA. On occasions I visit learners to support on functional skills as/when required.

On a personal note I have been married for 30 years and have three grown up children, but no grandchildren, so looking to adopt some……….. When I have spare time I love to read and spend time socialising with friends.

Wendy Skehan

Operations & Audit Manager

I started off my career in the training industry over 20 years ago after successfully completing my own Apprenticeship.

Since then I have had various roles within the sector including; Training & Assessment Manager, Audit & Compliance Manager and HR & Operations Manager. My passion is to see people excel in their career through training and development, reaching those aspirations and becoming an integral part of the business in which they work, this then enables the business to grow successfully – “you don’t build a business, you build people and people build your business”.
In my opinion the best employers are those that share our passion and are dedicated to developing their people.

My role within the organisation is to ensure NTA are compliant against current funding regulations and that we execute our delivery in a way that is most effective for our learners and employers.

Michelle Ball

Office Administrator

On leaving college I initially worked as a chef, after several years I changed direction in my professional life still working within the catering industry but into management, eventually progressing to becoming an Area Manager for Sodexo.

After my second child I decided to study for my teacher training qualification and taught catering at South Trafford college to special needs teenagers, it was during this time I realised how much I enjoyed helping and supporting people in their development.

I took a career break once I had my third child as I then went on to have a fourth! For many years I was a mum and manager of the very busy household. Its only now that the children are all over 14 that I decided it was time to return to something I love, albeit only part time.

I joined NTA in June 2019 and as well as general administrator duties I work very closely with the Audit Manager ensuring compliance is achieved.

Chloe Lee

Travel Apprentice Ambassador

I have joined NTA as a Travel Apprentice Ambassador. From leaving college, travel is something I have always wanted to do. At school I did very well in my GCSEs and then continued to college to complete my A-levels.

I have had lots of experience as an Office Administrator. However I wanted to further my career in Travel and my role at Northern Training Academy varies between providing administration support for the training academy and working closely alongside the Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) to help people understand the day in the life of a travel apprentice.

In my personal life I love shopping, animals and travelling to different places!

Adam Roche

Health & Safety / IT Support

Alistair Roche

E-Learning Developer

I have been responsible for bringing training resources to life to make them interactive and engaging for our customers through our e-learning platform.

I have been doing this for over 3 years and feel privileged to be part of the learning journey for people – particularly if they are new to e-learning. I always design the e-learning in a way that ensures even the most inexperienced IT user can find their way easily through the modules to gain more skills and knowledge to help them in their work (and increase their confidence).

I enjoy sports, I am a keen Manchester City supporter (but don’t let that put you off!) and am a bit of a dab hand in the kitchen, trying my hand to match Jamie Oliver in the cooking stakes.

Sarah Hendey

E-Learning & Communications Coordinator

I have worked in both Travel and Training for nearly 20 years taking a career break to start a family whilst moving up and down the country and overseas with my husband during his time in the Army. Once we had settled down and now that the children are at school, it was time to go back to work. I joined NTA in February 2019 to maintain their E-Learning LMS (Learning Management System).

My role has evolved over time and I am now responsible for all of the NTA digital marketing and communications including our social media feeds, blog and monthly newsletters to our learners.

Spending so much time working at the laptop during the day, I love family days out making memories at the weekends and school holidays or just curling up with a book and a cup of tea!

Why not pop over to one of our pages below and say Hi!

Jack Wycherley

Learner Support Advisor

Having spent most of my career in secondary education, my motivation to teach and help others has continued with NTA. It gives me the opportunity to work with others to help them achieve the level of Functional skills they require to progress with their apprenticeship.

Meeting new people not only through the NTA network itself but through visiting stores throughout the UK is at the heart of the satisfaction I take from my role.

Having also spent 2 years as a self employed estate agent, I have learnt how to work under pressure and to be challenged however kept the same goal and mentality to help others get what they want and need. Whether that is a new house or a qualification, the reward feels the same at the end.

Not only am I a family man at heart, I enjoy socialising with friends and playing plenty of sport.

Kristina Seed

Head Coach - North Team

I joined NTA in September 2019 having previously worked for Thomas Cook for over 20 years, with experience in both retail, management and their learning development department. I was then given the opportunity to change roles to a position which I was responsible for managing the assessor (coach) team who delivered apprenticeships throughout the business.

Coaching and developing people is my passion, having started as an apprentice myself I appreciate the hard work and dedication it needs to be successful and I’m focused on building relationships with all my learners to help them be the best they can be. I also have experience delivering both Maths and English functional skills to learners and understand how focusing on the small things can make a big difference to the results.

I have sector competencies for the delivery of many different standards which I have gained over my time in employment, these include Business Administration, Team Leader, Operations Management, Coaching and Mentoring, Learning and Development as well as Travel.

As well as having my own learners to support, a large part of my role is to support and manage the development coaches in the North of the Country.

On a personal note I am a mum to teenage twin boys.

Gemma Cosgrove

Learning & Development Coach - North Team

I joined NTA in June 2018 as one of the first Development Coaches. My role is to support, develop and assess learners throughout their apprenticeship journey, benefiting in the short term and laying foundations for long term career success to ultimately ensure they successfully get through their ‘End Point Assessment’ (EPA).

Prior to joining NTA, I worked for the NHS in their HR Department as a Development Facilitator for 5 years, this role also included some HR duties. I have also held positions with the following businesses; Marks and Spencer, Next, Boots, Tesco and Lloyds Pharmacy.

I am always an advocate for further education and work-related study and I have achieved several qualifications including the Level 4 Certificate in Further Education Teaching, NVQ in Customer Service and NVQ in Business Administration. These qualifications were achieved whilst I was balancing my commitments as a wife/mum and full-time employment.

I would like to finish by saying I am fully committed to supporting your company and your employees on the apprenticeship journey #BlazeATrail.

Helen Tabern

Learning & Development Coach - North Team

I started my career working as an apprentice within the travel industry at Going Places. Once I had completed my apprenticeship, I worked at Co-op Travel for 8 years in various roles such as cruise trainer and customer services manager.

It was during my time at Co-op Travel I discovered my love for developing people. I decided to combine my passion for travel and my love of training people by applying for work on cruise ships, I was given an opportunity to work as a customer services officer on board the world’s biggest cruise liner at the time, Royal Caribbean’s “Independence of the Seas”.

On my return I joined the Thomas Cook group working as a pure luxury ambassador. After three years I wanted to pursue my love of developing people and completed the TAQA qualification to become an assessor. I secured a role as an assessor still working at Thomas Cook and loved every minute. I realised that my passion was to develop people and to watch them grow within the business to be the best that they can be. This came to an end after 8 years when Thomas Cook went into liquidation.

I started working for NTA as a Development Coach which enables me to continue doing what I know and love!

Mark Wood

Learning & Development Coach - North Team

I was initially educated to HND level in Geography at the University of Derby.
I moved into steel fabrication and became the sales manager for a fabrication company. After the owner’s retirement I started my own business and was the company director 1997-2003, responsible for customer service and after sales.

I moved into contact centres and after a year was promoted to team leader, and then on to the operations manager. Within this role I was responsible for the training and delivered numerous workshops on staff development, including dealing with angry customers and many others to name 2003-2008. Responsible for customer service sales and after sales.

In 2011 I started working for ASDA and quickly progressed up the career ladder, by 2013 I had become a store manager/training manager, my main duties were to ensure all staff were fully training and equipped to be able to undertake their roles efficiently. During this time I gained both a level 3 and level 4 ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) qualification.

Due to my love of training I decided to look for a role which was dedicated to training and developing people, I joined NTA in February 2019 as a Development Coach.

Karen Knighton

Learning & Development Coach - North Team

I joined NTA in October 2019 after a 10-year career with Edinburgh Woollen Mill. During this time I gained experience in all aspects of the retail industry, including the training and coaching of my team.

In a previous life I worked as a fitness consultant helping clients achieve goals through personal development and continuous support to maintain a positive lifestyle, it was this role that I feel I found my passion for both personal and professional development.

Lynn Corr

Learning & Development Coach - North Team

I joined NTA in October 2019, after having worked for Thomas Cook since leaving college, after completing an OND in Travel and Tourism.

During my 30 years in the travel industry I held various roles, from sales consultant, store manager to deputy regional manager in the north of England and Scotland. All of these roles involved coaching, training and providing feedback either on a one-to-one or group basis to help others develop their knowledge and skills.

In 2011, I took the opportunity to further develop my own knowledge and skills and joined the Talent Program Team within Thomas Cook, coaching and assessing apprentices and new managers in England and Scotland. I gained TAQA, IQA and IEPA qualifications and was nominated and awarded a City & Guilds Medal for Excellence.

I enjoy every minute of my job, and feel great pride as well as job satisfaction, watching my apprentices and learners achieve their goals. I believe in the Chinese proverb ‘Jade requires polishing to turn into a gem’. In my personal life, I enjoy watching football, the outdoors, shopping and spending time with family and friends.

Abigail Hutchinson

Learning & Development Coach - North Team

I joined NTA in March 2020, a day before “lockdown”, so this will always be a very memorable time for me and it shows how supportive and dedicated NTA are towards their employees and learners.

Prior to joining NTA I worked at Thomas Cook for over 21 years in the retail sector. I supported a diverse team of over 20 employees in management, travel sales, apprentices and foreign exchange. I was also a mentor to the apprentices and new starters.

In 2019 I landed my dream role as a Regional Assessor for the Talent Program Team and now have the opportunity to continue my teaching and training with NTA.

I love to learn and have a Foundation Degree in Supporting Learning, a BA Hons in Educational Studies and a PGCE in the Life-Long Learning sector. I gained these qualifications whilst working full time and supporting my son through his exams, so I know and understand just how hard it is to juggle life and learning. I am fully supportive of our learners and anyone who is wanting to learn and progress.

On a personal note, I love my family, friends, fitness and my dogs and my favourite place is the beach!

Jacqui Thomas

Learning & Development Coach - North Team

I have over 30 years experience in retail which has led to over 20 years in a management position.

The part of my job I enjoy the most is the training and coaching aspect of the role. I have over 4 years worth of experience of working with retail apprentices in a previous role of store manager and I joined NTA in August 2020 to continue with this role which I love doing. I get real pleasure at seeing people progress within themselves.

On a personal note I have been with my husband Neil for 22 years (married 8) I have 2 beautiful granddaughters that I love spending time with on weekends.

Vanessa Sivell

Head Coach - South Team

My background includes being a Manager with high-end ladies fashion.

In 2004 I developed my skills and began delivering Apprenticeships in Retail 2, 3 and 4 Customer Service 2 and 3, Business Admin 2, 3 and 4 Team Leading 2, Management 4, Health and Social Care 2 and 3, Postal Services 2 and 3.

In 2010 I further progressed my skills and became an Internal Verifier for the sector and I have since worked as a Lead Verifier for various qualifications.

Within my career I have worked for the following awarding bodies City & Guilds, Excel, EDI, OCR and NCFE and have also supported the development of qualifications throughout my time in the industry. I have achieved PTTLS qualification and higher-level technical certificates in all the relevant sectors.

As well as having my own learners to support a large part of my role is to support and manage the development coaches in the South of the Country.

Mark Smith

Learning & Development Coach - South Team

I have been working in retail for approximately 15 years, most of this time as a retail store manager. During my time in retail I have also undertaken a role as a visual merchandiser and as training manager.

My passion is for developing others and coaching. I have previously tutored within a college environment and have a PTTLS qualification, as well as many retail qualifications. My teaching/coaching style is to be proactive and encourage learners to aim high.

In my personal life I enjoy composing lyrics and music and writing children’s picture books.

Tracy Riordan

Learning & Development Coach - South Team

I had over 20 years of retail management experience before joining NTA in September 2019 as a Learning and Development Coach.

Coaching has always been a favourite element of my job, I have a genuine desire to help people progress and a passion to help them succeed.

On a personal note I enjoy spending time with my family and love my role as an Auntie! I spend my spare time going to the cinema and eating out, I also like to partake in photography and gardening.

Kelly Flynn

Learning & Development Coach - South Team

I Joined NTA in October 2019 as a learning development coach. I have over 26 years in retail management. Training and Coaching the team has always been a passion and focus along with team building. I have always delivered excellent customer experience and developed my stores through strong commercial awareness.

Since joining NTA, I have passed the Education and Training Level 3 Qualification and am actively working towards furthering my development. I am passionate about developing learners and coaching them to achieve their goals. I also coach Maths and English functional skills to enhance learner’s development.

Tracy-Lee Hall

Learning & Development Coach - South Team

I have over 15 years’ experience within Sales management, coaching and training. During these 15 years my responsibilities included the delivery of training apprenticeships as well as designing and delivering bespoke management courses.

I have a passion for developing people and am pro-active in stretching learners and encouraging them to be the best they can be. My experience includes the delivery of functional skills workshops (Maths and English). During my career I have also gained a qualification in “Training, Assessment and Quality Assurance”

Julie Bennison

Learning & Development Coach - South Team

I have worked in the Travel Industry for more than 25 years, including being an Overseas Travel Rep. I started with Thomas Cook as a part-time Travel Consultant and worked my way up to a Customer Service Manager Role, I finally specialised in Foreign Exchange within my region.

My career sadly ended in September 2019 after the collapse of one of the biggest and oldest Travel companies and I found myself slightly lost and unsure of what to do next. I had so much knowledge and I truly loved helping people develop further in their roles so I joined NTA in February 2020 and have never looked back.

On a personal note I have two grown up children both at home with me and I have a slight obsession with Pugs. I have two dogs, Milo and Ted (the Pug) who behave like two more children. I also have a second job as I really wanted to continue to learn something new, 4 years down the line I am still there so I don’t have much spare time.

Clare Warrington

Learning & Development Coach - South Team

I have worked in retail for around 15 years, I started in TK Maxx and worked my way up to becoming a store manager. During my time at TK Maxx I was also given additional responsibilities which included the openings of new stores and training staff in retail competencies.

I took a break in career to have a family, once they grew up, I have had a number of management jobs with Matalan, River Island and Sports Direct, all which involved detailed staff training.

I joined NTA recently as I have always wanted to combine my retail knowledge with my passion for training and coaching others.

Jeff Weir

Apprenticeship Recruitment Specialist

With over twenty years’ experience in the apprenticeship arena, Jeff has extensive knowledge and experience within this industry from developing and implementing apprenticeship programmes across a number of sectors and supporting large business with the management and development of an apprenticeship offer for teams and individuals.

Nicola Churchill

Apprenticeship Recruitment Manager

Nicola has over 20 years experience in the apprenticeship arena covering varied sectors. specialising in apprenticeship vacancy management in recent years. Nicola is also a qualified assessor and verifier coupled with her strong knowledge of apprenticeships and delivery, this really gives her the edge when it comes to vacancy management.


Impact upon Northern Training Academy