Dr Lindsey Whiterod, the first chief executive of the new Tyne Coast College, of which Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet) is part, has been awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

It comes in recognition of her services to education and to South Tyneside, where she led the borough’s college from 2009 to 2017.

While principal and later chief executive of South Tyneside College, she oversaw a rise in standards that led it to be named England’s best FE college and provider last year by the prestigious Tes education publication.

Her most recent achievement was to drive through the creation on Tyne Coast College, formed last August from the pivotal merger of South Tyneside College and TyneMet.

As chief executive of Tyne Coast College, she now directs operations at the North East’s second largest FE body, and is accordingly one of the region’s most influential voices in her field.

Other key achievements while chief executive at South Tyneside College include the creation of South Tyneside Multi Academy Trust, which supports North East schools who share a collective vision for excellence in education at all ages.

Its successes include helping transform, through sponsorship, once-failing Ridgeway Primary Academy in South Shields, into one of the country’s most improved primary schools.

Dr Whiterod insists her award of a CBE is equally a reflection of the dedicated work of others, saying: “It is a great honour, albeit a surprise, to be awarded a CBE. I am thrilled that my work has been recognised in this way.

“While it brings great personal satisfaction, I have been fortunate to have been consistently supported by many committed and inspirational education professionals.

“They have been instrumental in the success enjoyed by South Tyneside College, which is now known nationally due to its innovative work.

“The same is true at Ridgeway Primary Academy in South Shields, where an inspirational team has transformed it into a nationally high achieving school.

“My ambition has always been to help deliver learning that provides strong foundations from which people of all ages can grow personally and professionally.

“I am proud to have played my part, along with others, in achieving that at South Tyneside College and at Ridgeway Primary Academy.”

She added: “At Tyne Coast College, supported by exceptional people, I continue to be driven by the same of goals of helping learners to achieve.

“We share an ambition to meet the education and training needs of the North East, so that the region has the strongest possible skills base.

“Delivering the skills that give every learner the best possible chance of success on their chosen career path, will help this region to grow and thrive economically.”

The merger of South Tyneside College and TyneMet is seen as strengthening post-16 provision in the North East.

It also brought together the colleges’ sub-brands which include world-leading South Shields Marine School and Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College.

Under Dr Whiterod’s direction, South Shields Marine School, founded in 1861, was supported through a £4.5m refurbishment which strengthened its position as a key global centre of maritime training,

Dr Whiterod, who was awarded an OBE in 2013, is a trained solicitor who began her career as a law lecturer at South Tyneside College in 1994.

In 2000 she was appointed director of the School of Business, Management and Computing at Newcastle College, and three years later joined New College Durham as deputy principal.

She returned to South Tyneside College in October 2009, overseeing a rapid rise in education standards which led to an improved ‘good’ Ofsted rating.

Dr Whiterod also enjoyed success extending its reach into the community through new initiatives and partnerships.

These included opening a hair salon at Haven Court at South Tyneside District Hospital, to support older people, especially those with dementia, their families and carers.

Other professional achievements include winning the UK Leadership Award at the 2017 Educate the North Awards.

Award judges described her as a ‘frontrunner’ in the field of education, citing her for her defining portrayal of leadership.

At the sixth annual Tes FE Awards in February 2017, South Tyneside College was praised for its commitment to educational attainment, student career advancement and the forging of strong connections with business and the community.

Judges were unanimous in recognising it as overall FE provider of the year, citing the breadth of skills on offer locally and nationally as ‘outstanding’, and they also named it FE College of the year.