Carpenters Group supports the State School Proud campaign

25 June 2024

On 25th June the 93% Club will be three years old. The 93% Club is a members club for people who went to state schools. They exist to dismantle the class inequality that exists in Britain today through the power of community. By bringing together thousands of like-minded individuals across the country, they are breaking down the structural barriers to social mobility and building a future that’s fairer for the next generation.

We have previously supported the #StateSchoolProud campaign, which is now a mission for them rather than a campaign.

We are showing our support for the 93% Club by sharing our own stories…..


Donna Scully, Joint Owner/Director, Carpenters Group

“I went to an overcrowded Inner City state school in Dublin!

I am very proud of my background, it makes me who I am today. Having left school at 16, further education was my ticket to qualify & have my own business.

We deserve a chance if we want it!”


Donna Richards, CEO, Carpenters Group

“I grew up in Norris Green, Liverpool. After passing the 11+ exam I went to the Convent of Mercy Broughton Hall state school.

As a 16 year old I had a job in a shop and a Saturday job in Vernon’s Pools, marking spot the ball.

I left at school at 18 with OK A 'levels' and went on to Liverpool Polytechnic, where I did a Foundation Course in Accountancy. During this time I had two part time jobs to support myself, Vernon’s and now a local accountants. I got the job unexpectedly, I'd gone into their reception, said I wanted to be an accountant and asked if I could look round. By the end of the tour the partner offered me a part time job whilst I was doing my course. I could not believe my luck. That foot in the door allowed me to get a four year training contract and not need to complete a degree. I had my eldest son just before doing my final exams and qualifying.

I succeeded thanks to the great encouragement from my parents, both of whom had left school at 15 with no qualifications. A big driver for me was my determination to prove a teacher called Ms Cooper wrong. She had said at parents evening, when I was 15, that girls like me couldn't become accountants. That because my parents were not professionals and I didn't have the right background, I could not achieve my ambition. I remember clearly how my Dad told her I could ‘do whatever I wanted’ -  he was always my biggest supporter.

Today, I am the CEO of a successful insurance and legal services business employing 1500 people across the UK.

I am living proof that it doesn’t matter where you go to school or where you come from, if you work hard and believe in yourself you can be anything you dream of.’’


Mark Bratherton, Head of Technical Claims, Carpenters Group 

“I started my education at Mosspits County Primary School in Wavertree. I loved every minute of it. I was always top of the class and something of a swot!

I then moved to a local Church School where  I was easily distracted and didn’t do so well. I secured a place at The Blue Coat, again in Wavertree which I absolutely loved. I wish I could go back there even today. At that time the school was a boarding school (I was a day student!) but I met  some great friends and pupils from all over the world which was a great experience at that age.

At The Blue Coat I was pushed academically and came out with 3 good A-Levels before starting my studies and career in the law. The rest  is history…..for me private education was not an option. My education and my children’s education (my eldest son followed in my footsteps and went to The Blue Coat) has been provided by the state. I am intensely proud of that.” 


Darren Hall, Chief Operating Officer, Carpenters Group

"I moved around a bit when I was younger and jumped from school to school due to my parents moving quite a lot and then sadly divorcing.

So comprehensive schools were the norm for me. I have to say they were a brilliant experience, that profoundly influenced my development and my life.

I embraced sports more than anything else as I found myself quite good at most, and represented all of my schools in football, running, swimming to name a few….the teamship & camaraderie that was fostered in these schools was fantastic and definitely a draw for me!

Maybe it was because some of the students had a challenging upbringing and it was an outlet for them, maybe an escape, or the only opportunity they had to bond with others, or they were just grateful for being in a good school, whatever it was, it worked for me and I loved being part of those groups and schools. I’m sure some of the aforementioned benefits rang true for me aswell!

I left with strong grades, and then went on to community college which again I thoroughly enjoyed and did very well. Whilst my career path has certainly taken a different direction than the sports coach trajectory it started off as, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

For me, the diverse environment, broad curriculum, supportive community, real-world preparation, equal opportunities, and lasting friendships collectively made my time there invaluable.

And more importantly, this foundation has continued to benefit me long after leaving the school grounds."


Carol Hopwood, Head of Serious Injury & Catastrophic Injury, Carpenters Group 

"I attended St George of England Comprehensive in Bootle. It was a great experience and I have never felt disadvantaged because of it. The opposite in fact.

They nurtured and encouraged my learning and taught me to think bigger than I ever would have without their support. They instilled that hard work pays off, to always give back and to never forget the community I was raised in.

It was tough at times and I had to learn to stand up for myself. I had my nose broken by the school bully in the playground during my first two older brothers helped sort that out! I left school at 15 and got a summer job working for £1 an hour in the corner shop (what a great experience that was - I got to know all the local gossip!). Local FE College, University and Law School followed and I qualified as a lawyer in 1992 and started my journey to where I am today"


Peter Core, Track team manager at Carpenters Group 

“I was raised in a council house in the North end of Birkenhead. I went to the local Comprehensive St John Plessington. I did my law degree at North Staffordshire Poly and then my LSF at Chester College of Law.

I then found it very difficult to get a training contract and I knew no one who could help as others did. I easily sent over 600 applications over the course of 4 years until I got a job as a trainee welfare rights adviser at a firm in Toxteth. I did that for 2 years, working incredibly long days seeing on average 20 clients a day, until the firm offered me a training contract and I eventually qualified.

I would not have made it without the support of my parents who kept saying never give up."