Internationally renowned South Shields Marine School is making waves with a new man at the helm.
John Roach has been appointed Principal, replacing highly respected Gary Hindmarch, who has retired.
South Shields-born John’s promotion – he has been assistant principal since 2017 – has brought his career full circle.
In 1976, he attended South Shields Marine and Technical College as part of a mechanical engineering apprenticeship with shipbuilder Swan Hunter.
Eight years later the technical college was renamed South Tyneside College, under which South Shields Marine School operated until last year.
In between John has enjoyed a varied and multi-skilled journey in which he has worked in senior positions in maritime education and non-marine sectors.
He will now oversee a facility which employs around 65 staff and trains approximately 11,000 students a year on full-time and short courses.
Simon Ashton, previously Assistant Principal, responsible for marine apprenticeships, is the new Deputy Principal.
John, who is married to wife Alison, said: “I have been part of the marine school and college’s Senior Management Team for over 12 years.
“My roles have been Head of Department, Head of School, Assistant Principal and now I am extremely proud to be appointed Principal of South Shields Marine School
“While working at the marine school, my greatest pleasure has been to see people of all ages arrive wide-eyed, often from overseas, and to return to the region time after time to progress through the ranks to become senior officers within the Merchant Navy.
“I am greatly looking forward to the challenges of my new role and of working with my colleagues helping to shape, develop and strengthen the future of maritime training in the North East and beyond.”
John’s move as a teenager to Swan Hunter saw him follow in the footsteps of his father, Derek Roach, a manager at the famous Wallsend shipyard.
During the 1980s he worked for a small engineering firm and became involved in the construction industry.
Employment highlights included being a project manager on the Canary Wharf development in London’s Docklands.
By the 1990s a change in direction, both in career and engineering disciplines beckoned and he became a Chartered Electrical Engineer.
The switch saw him continue to work in management roles in ‘state of the art’ high volume manufacturing and process industries.
Only in 2002 did he bring his skills to bear in education, when he began teaching electrical engineering at South Shields Marine School.
The move was based on a desire to combine his knowledge and experience into one common thread and to use this to help and inspire young people from all over the world.
Mr Hindmarch worked at South Tyneside College for around 25 years and held senior positions at the marine school for about 16 years.
These included Head of Faculty Marine Engineering, Head of Faculty Marine and Mechanical Engineering, Head of Marine Faculty, Director of HE, Director of Marine, overseeing all of the marine school’s faculties, and Vice Principal.
Dr Lindsey Whiterod CBE, Chief Executive of Tyne Coast College, formed last year from a merger of South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College, in North Shields, said the future of the marine school was in safe hands.
She added: “John is a highly respected maritime education professional whose diverse range of skills and experience make him an asset to the marine school and to his colleagues.
“He has been a highly valued member of the marine school’s senior team for many years, helping steer it to the success it enjoys today.
“It takes someone of exceptional pedigree to lead one of the world’s most esteemed maritime training centres, which South Shields Marine School most certainly is.
“The marine school has benefited greatly from Gary’s tremendous leadership, and I am equally confident of its continued success under John’s watch.”
Cadets who qualify from the marine school’s programmes work on a variety of vessels in the modern Merchant Navy.
These include container ships, cruise liners, ferries, oil and gas tankers, chemical carriers, bulk carriers, cable layers, car carriers and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.
The marine school also operates the Marine and Offshore Training Centre, in South Shields, a state-of-the art facility used to train Merchant Navy mariners and workers in the offshore and renewable power industries.
Facilities include a 4m-deep environmental pool for survival training, full scale access ladder to replicate windfarm access arrangements, a variable wave pattern generator, wind, rain, light and sound effects, and an eight-seater helicopter escape module.
Each year it is used by over 100 companies to train over 3,000 people.
The centre also has a two-storey enclosed spaces building which provides a state-of-the-art environment for teaching how to avoid injury or loss of life in an emergency.