Arts Online Extra! - Tutor Biographies

Toms Veselis


Toms is a passionate wine industry veteran with a big smile. He possesses broad spectre of wine business experience as a buyer, writer, retailer, sommelier, and educator, which results in a thorough understanding of the subject. Successfully developed and run two wine school programmes for both advanced and novice students. He was named wine champion in Rick Stein’s restaurant empire for dedication to staff training in wine culture. Toms teaches in an open-minded, liberal, inclusive manner.

Giovana Temponi

Brazilian born Chef, Giovana Temponi is truly passionate about cooking and baking.  Her career has taken her from Brazil to Italy and now to the UK, creating dishes in restaurants, catering companies, private dining clubs and 5-star hotels.  Employment at the renowned Michelin-starred establishments Apsley's and Mosimann's led to work at venues as exclusive as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and to travel as far as China to produce food for the leaders of the Beijing Olympic games. 

Her academic training includes a degree in Culinary Arts, an MBA in Events Management, a Master of Italian Cuisine, a Level 3 award in Education, and much other professional training in Patisserie, Cake Design, Vietnamese, Fusion, Creative Mediterranean, Brazilian and Italian cuisines.

After becoming a mother of two, she decided to bring alive a long-awaited dream and recently opened her own business, Gio Bakes. In addition to that she is now a cookery tutor, sharing her passions and talents with others, teaching baking, cake decorating and cooking at Richmond & Hillcroft Adult and Community College.

Katherina Boldo


Enthusiastic and self-motivated, Kathrina Boldo uses creativity and innovation to motivate, impart knowledge and facilitate learning.  Kathrina is highly experienced in various aspects of media, design and styling in both fashion and interior design.

James Bennett


At the age of sixteen, James was already working at ‘Lettonie’, the famous two-Michelin starred restaurant run by Martin Blunos.  More experience in Michelin-starred restaurants followed, and by his late twenties, James was running his own prize-winning restaurant and cookery school in the south of France.

After a decade of success, James returned to the UK to take up the role of Head Chef at the Royal Oak, Paley Street.  Within two years, his leadership had resulted in a Michelin star and three AA rosettes.

Barrie Selwyn


Formerly the principal of Kingston Adult Education, Barrie Selwyn is the lead tutor for the School of Ideas at RHACC. A highly respected Adult Educationalist specializing in philosophy and literature, he has developed and delivered a vast range of successful programmes of learning on the modern European mind. As a trained inspector, Barrie is passionate about providing proper learner-centred courses which enable learners to move on with confidence.  Barrie is also Chair and founder member of the Kingston Philosophy Café, and Chair of the Portcullis Trust, a charity which supports adult learning in Richmond.

Niko Tsonev


Voted in the top 4 best progressive rock guitarists for 2016 by PROG Magazine, Niko Tsonev is also a sought-after composer, producer, mixing engineer and music technology specialist.

“Not only a fantastic guitarist, but also an amazing composer…” Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Bumblefoot, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Art of Anarchy), “Hip ideas, strong tunes, killer guitar playing.”  Adam Holzman (Miles Davis) 

Dr Meirion Hughes

Dr Meirion Hughes is a historian who has spent a career teaching history and literature in both further and adult education.  Having been awarded a joint-honours degree in history and literature, he went on to complete an MA on republicanism during the 17th-century British civil wars, and a doctorate In Victorian cultural history.  He has authored three books, several peer-reviewed articles, and presented many conference papers on aspects of political and cultural history. His approach to teaching is relaxed and informal to encourage learner involvement in lively discussion and debate.

Sandra Hemple

Sandra Hempel, a former Times journalist, is the author of three award-winning books, all published by mainstream publishers in the UK and overseas, including the USA and Japan.  Her second book, “The Inheritor’s Powder”, was serialised as a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.  She now combines writing with teaching.  She loves the interaction with learners and helping them to grow in confidence and to build on their writing skills.

Janet Oates


Janet Oates has an English degree from Oxford and an MMus and PhD in composition from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a freelance musician, running several choirs and music ensembles, from community choirs and Richmond Choral Society (at RHACC!) to a professional vocal ensemble (, an experimental vocal group (, and a close harmony trio (

Vanessa Hodder

Vanessa has over 30 years experience in design and design education. After a career in Architecture, she followed her love of the outdoors and all things green by retraining in Horticulture and set up offering planting design, maintenance and garden coaching. 

Alongside her business she teaches garden design and planting workshops at Richmond Hillcroft Adult College