A FORMER police boss from Halton has won a top award.

Richard Strachan has been hailed chairman of the year by Cheshire West Governance Association for his outstanding leadership and governance at Darnhall Primary School in Winsford.

The dad-of-three has devoted 23 years to serving the local community.

“My children all went to Darnhall,” said Richard. “I volunteered when my daughter was four, she’s now 28. I live in the community and wanted to give something back.

“My passion is that your local school should be the best school.”

The former police chief, who was area commander in Widnes and Runcorn, now works as a consultant in children’s safeguarding.

For the past 14 years, he has served as chairman of governors and uses his expertise to ensure every pupil fulfils their potential.

“There is a lot of deprivation in the community and children live in vulnerable families,” said Richard. “But that shouldn’t matter. Those children should have the best and equal chances.

"We put a nursery in two years ago to prepare children to have a better start.”

Managing a budget of almost £2 million, taking the lead on safeguarding and looking after 350 children aged two to 11, is a responsibility he cherishes.

“I enjoy seeing the quality of what we do,” he said. “Our children are doing better year on year. Our results have been really good. I have great pride in the school.

The school’s success, he said, is due to the commitment of all the staff and governors.

“It is very much a team job,” said Richard. “We’ve got a really good bunch of engaged and dedicated governors with a wide range of skills.

“It’s not just about supporting the school, it’s about challenge, making sure the senior leadership team is asked the right questions on behalf of the community.

“We are led by a fantastic team and a really talented and dedicated headteacher Sarah Tomlinson.

Throughout lockdown Darnhall staff provided food hampers and constant support for families.

“It’s about being a strong influence in the community,” said Richard. "We help and refer families to other services and the feedback has been amazing. People are so grateful for what we do.

“If children are struggling with their emotional and social wellbeing, they are not going to be focused on learning at school.

“Part of our mission is to keep them as happy and well as they can be.”

Headteacher Sarah Tomlinson said: “Richard is an exceptional chair of governors. He has such a passion for ensuring the local community have a school that is constantly improving and offers the best education for pupils including a high proportion of special educational needs, disabled and vulnerable children.

“He is supportive yet challenging and thinks about the wellbeing of school leaders and staff.

“Parental engagement and community links is something Richard actively seeks to improve.

“We work hard to raise the aspirations of our children and families through a range of strategies. Richard just wants the very best for each and every child.

“Richard’s experience from his career in Cheshire Police and his safeguarding role in serious case reviews etc has really benefited the school.”