The Brookes Society Committee Members

The Brookes Society committee is made up of volunteers. A list of who they are can be found below. If you would like to contact any of them then please email or call 01865 484 989

Clare Fox


I joined Oxford Polytechnic in August 1988 and worked in the School of Education (as it then was) for 9 years, gradually increasing my hours as a course secretary, latterly as PA to Head of School, as my children got older. In 1997 I became Executive Assistant to the then new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Upton and stayed with him till he retired in 2007, when I moved to a new position, Corporate Relations Manager, looking after our Honorary Graduates, the University Court, the Chancellor and other good friends of the University. I “retired” in 2010 and was asked to join the Brookes Society Committee. I am a great advocate of Brookes and what it does, both for our students and for the local community, and I wanted to continue my involvement with the University, as well as helping to keep ex-members of staff in touch with each other and offering them the opportunity to remain involved, should they wish to do so.

Chris Weavers


I joined what was then Oxford Polytechnic in 1992 as a Management Accountant with responsibilities for financial planning and forecasting. I retired in 2002 but was asked if I would like to stay on in a part-time position, which I did for a further 11 years, before finally leaving in 2013. It has been interesting to see how Brookes has changed and developed over the 20 years to meet the demands of today's students.

I was introduced to the Society by a fellow Committee member and felt that it would be a useful way to keep in touch with colleagues, as well as an opportunity to attend the varied and interesting events that the group organises.


Laura Spira

I joined the newly formed Business School at Oxford Polytechnic in 1985, coming from a professional background in accountancy.  I spent almost thirty happy years teaching accounting and other business subjects at all levels. During that time the Business School expanded and it was a very exciting place to work, with much opportunity for experiment and innovation, encouraged by successive deans, especially the late Simon Williams, with whom I worked very closely.  I undertook a wide variety of programme development and management roles, was involved in several cross-university committees and led the Accounting subject group, as well as pursuing my own research into corporate governance, gaining my doctorate in 1998 and becoming a professor in 2003.  When I retired in 2014 I was awarded emeritus status and have been keen to retain close links with the university so I was very pleased to join the Brookes Society committee.

Mike Breakell

Mike Breakell came to Oxford Polytechnic as a senior lecturer in Comparative Planning after travelling overland from Sydney, where he had been working as a Regional Planner. He was to develop the departmental Short Course Programme over many years but was also appointed as a sub warden in the newly built Cheney Hall which grew from the initial fifty students to accommodate several hundred over time. Whilst there he ran an old black ambulance which effectively operated as the first student union minibus!!.

He continued to work in the School of Planning after the Poly became Oxford Brookes University, running short courses in conjunction with the Royal Town Planning Institute and the External Studies Department at the University of Oxford for over thirty years. He taught comparative planning which involved regular study visits by planning students to Belgium and the Netherlands and became increasingly involved in developing tourism research projects in Eastern Europe. He also developed student exchanges with Canadian and Australian Universities some of which still operate today.

Sue Piggott

I joined Brookes, in the Polytechnic days, in January 1976 as a lecturer in Mammalian Physiology in the Department  of Biology where I stayed until 1988 (except for a year of research in Strasbourg). As an Admissions Tutor in Biology I had become interested in progression routes (or the lack of them) for mature students into higher education, so when a secondment opportunity arose to develop Access courses I jumped at it! This was only a one year post but further opportunities arose and I ended up in the International Office in 1994 developing new international markets, predominantly, Taiwan and Japan. I enjoyed international development work which was always very interesting and was lucky to stay in this area until I retired at the end of September 2012; by this time I was Assistant Director and was more involved in partnership development. From 2008 the International Office expanded as it was merged with the International Centre for English Language Studies and become the much larger department of Oxford Brookes International, a long way from its early beginnings when it was a set up in 1989 as a small two person Office and from my early beginnings as a lecturer in Physiology!

I joined the committee as I felt I wanted to still be part of this large Oxford Brookes 'family' and be involved in  activities which kept retired staff still part of the University. The Brookes Society is a means whereby staff can be as involved as they like; either just monitoring news or taking part in all the exciting events planned each year.


Catherine Tranmer

Joining Oxford College of Technology as assistant librarian in January 1969, I became the Subject Librarian for architecture and planning in 1972, with responsibility for book acquisitions, enquiry work and instructing students in information resources in those subjects, which also encompassed construction and surveying.   In 1974-5 I was released on sabbatical in order to gain a Master’s degree in Information Science at Loughborough University, and was subsequently able to develop areas of professional interest as Oxford Polytechnic grew in size and numbers.  Projects I was involved in included founding ARCLIB, the UK architecture librarians’ group, through which I developed useful overseas links with similar groups in France, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia and Germany. Along with the University of Hertfordshire’s Department of Engineering, I developed an early web resource for urban design, later spun out by Oxford Brookes as its first commercial company in 1998. Leaving the Library staff I became CEO of RUDI, the Resource for Urban Design Information.  I later chose to become self-employed and worked on various research projects for government and associated bodies, including some with Brookes’ Schools of Planning and Architecture.  I was always happy working at Oxford Brookes/Polytechnic/College of Technology, where I made many friends and since retiring in 2008 I have enjoyed meeting up with former colleagues at Brookes Society events. In joining the Committee I hope to continue the good work of those colleagues who originally set the Society up.