Meet the Trustees of Kirkgate Arts

Marion Bowman (Chair)

Retired Television Executive

Marion is a native West Cumbrian, born in Maryport and educated in Cockermouth. After graduating in American and Russian Studies at the University of Manchester she trained as a newspaper journalist in Leeds and as a radio broadcaster in Manchester. She spent most of her career in London where she first worked as a current affairs journalist and presenter with Channel 4. She then ran her own television production company for several years while her children were young. For 15 years she held senior executive roles at ITV, the BBC and the commercial television regulator, the Independent Television Commission. Before retiring she worked in the charity sector, first as Director General of the Landscape Institute, then Chief Executive of One World Media. Previous voluntary and trustee roles include Chair of the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Vice-chair of the UK Tree Council and Project Director for the Lachlan Trust which is conserving Old Castle Lachlan on Loch Fyne in Scotland.

Phil Bennett

Head of Engineering Services, Jacobs Clean Energy

Phil relocated to Cumbria with his wife and two daughters in 2014. He began volunteering at the Kirkgate to help become part of the community. Having been enthused by the staff and volunteers, and particularly by their impressive achievements in planning for the future of the centre, he joined Kirkgate Arts board in 2015.

Phil has a diverse nuclear technical and managerial background spanning 17 years on complex joint venture, business management and multi-discipline design and build projects. His current role is Operations Director for Strategic Nuclear Programmes in Jacobs. This requires the commercial management of major contracts and the coordination of finance, communication, government relations, socio-economic and assurance specialists. Phil has worked in many places around the UK and has taken several career breaks travelling the world, enjoying the environment, diversity and culture. When not at the Kirkgate, Phil and his family are engaged in the outdoors and are usually to be found up a hill, camping in a valley, swimming in a lake, or in a pub afterwards.

Bob Pritchard

Retired Artistic Director

A native of Manchester, Bob has lived in Cockermouth for 35 years. He founded Cockermouth Amateur Dramatic Society (CADS) in 1984, and its rural touring offshoot, the A595 Theatre Company in 2000. He has been associated with the Kirkgate Centre since it was first proposed in 1990. A teacher of English and Drama for much of his career, Bob started volunteering for the Kirkgate Centre when it opened in 1995, taking various roles including programme co-ordinator. In 2005 he started working for the West Cumbria Rural Touring Scheme (now Arts Out West) and later guided its transition from local authority control to Kirkgate Arts. He then became Artistic Director of Kirkgate Arts until his retirement in 2013.

With Chris George and Kate Parry he pioneered the Georgian Fair, and is now chair of Cockermouth Festivals Group, which organises the annual Cockermouth Live! weekend. He enjoys performing as a member of La’al Beggars Community Opera Group and Sing Owt Community Choir. He is currently clerk of the Cumberland Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Judith Bennington

Retired Civil Servant

Born in the North East, Judith moved to London after graduating from Oxford Brookes with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. After a short stint in publishing, she took up a post in the Department of Energy. Judith was a career civil servant with posts as private secretary to two Government Ministers and working on a broad range of projects including drafting legislation, project management and nuclear policy. She moved to Cumbria in 2004 to help establish the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority as a new public body, working with the Board and Executive Team. Judith was Board secretary for the Authority until her retirement in 2014. She has a strong background in policy-making, organisational management, strategy and governance.

A Cockermouth resident, she joined the Kirkgate because of her passion for cinema and live music. Since retiring, Judith has been keen to become more closely involved with the Kirkgate including through events such as the Cockfrock sales and fundraising initiatives. She hopes her previous experience will help the Kirkgate with its long term strategic aims. Outside of the Kirkgate, Judith is a keen walker, gardener and horse rider and is currently trying to resurrect her rusty musical skills on piano and cello.

Patric Gilchrist MBE

Freelance theatre producer and consultant

Patric is a freelance theatre producer and consultant, working principally for David Pugh Ltd on national touring and West End productions.  Previously, he was Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of Cumbria Theatre Trust, the charity which created Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.  He initially project-managed the construction, fitting out and equipping of Theatre by the Lake and, from opening in 1999 until he stood down in 2016, he was responsible for the planning, programming strategies, funding, development, staffing and management of Cumbria’s only professional producing theatre.

Patric worked previously in regional theatre management, initially for five years as Administrator of Theatr Clwyd in North Wales, then for four years as Administrative Director of Salisbury Playhouse. He returned for a further six years to Theatr Clwyd, as General Manager and Chief Executive, until 1996 when he joined North West Arts Board as Director of Performing Arts. Prior to 1982, he had worked with West Midlands Arts, variously as Drama and Touring Officer, as a local authority arts officer in outer London and for two years running a university theatre.

He has served on the voluntary boards of a number of arts organisations and other not-for-profit organisations. He was awarded the MBE for services to the arts in 2014.

Patric’s interests outside theatre and the arts include fell-running, long distance road-running and cricket.

Andy Semple

Retired Civil Servant, Borough and Town Councillor

Andy is a regular performer at Cockermouth’s summer festival Cockermouth Live! and, while focusing on music, he has a life-long interest and passion for all the performing arts. Originally from across the border in Dumfries and Galloway, Cockermouth has been his home for 32 years.

Andy has over 25 years’ experience in management at a senior level and at one time was responsible for over 300 staff when he was Jobcentre Area Manager for all of Cumbria’s 14 Jobcentres. For 5 years before retiring, he worked in the private sector for construction company Mace, as Senior Sustainability Manager.

While recruiting or promoting hundreds of people during his working life, Andy found that whenever a candidate was nervous, it helped to get them talking about their personal interests. Invariably, it turned out they were in the school choir, played an instrument, liked books, went to plays. That brought out the real person with individual qualities.

Andy wants to play a part in supporting and developing Kirkgate Arts and Heritage because he believes that culture makes the person, and the person makes the town.

Nanette Rigg

Company Director

Having qualified as an intellectual property barrister, Nanette has been working across various sectors of the creative industries including being Festival Director of various mass participation sports and music events, as well as outdoor festival markets based in London but operating nationally.

Working in the creative economy, she is a specialist in place-making, economic regeneration – having worked with the Mayor of London – and has experience in corporate development and management buyouts as well as business start-ups.

Nanette is a Carlisle Cumbrian who has returned to Cumbria and is operating the business founded by her and her sister, Blencathra Productions, in Allerdale.

Duncan Nicholson

Regional Head of Funding, NLCF

Duncan is a resident of the village of Dearham near Maryport and works as Regional Head of Funding for the National Lottery Community Fund, managing the distribution of Reaching Communities funds across the NE and Cumbria.

Duncan was born in Manchester and studied at Durham University for a BA then in Huddersfield for a Further Education teaching qualification. Most of his working life has been in and around the voluntary sector, mainly supporting people into employment on various programmes including apprenticeships. He has held various national roles including National Stakeholder Engagement Manager with NCG, one of the largest not-for-profit education and training groups in the UK.

Duncan enjoys walking and tries to do at least one long distance walk a year. So far he has completed the West Highland Way, the Coast to Coast, Hadrian’s Wall Walk, the Cumbrian Way and the Caledonian Way. His next target is the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Sue Moses

Retired business administrator

A native West Cumbrian, Sue has always lived in the area, apart from time studying Business Studies and Modern Foreign Languages at Newcastle Polytechnic. 

Returning to Cockermouth, Sue worked as PA to the Board of Directors at Millers Footwear Limited in Cockermouth, until its closure in 1990. Then followed a ten year stint in the hospitality industry, working as Conference Co-ordinator at Armathwaite Hall Hotel, Bassenthwaite. Following this, for the fifteen years prior to retirement Sue worked for a local insurer broker.

Sue has been a governor at Cockermouth School for over twenty years, during which time she has held both the position of Vice Chair and Chair of the Governing Board and is still as passionate as ever to support the school and its students and the school’s role in the community.

Since retirement, Sue’s interests continue to include walking in our beautiful area plus fly fishing, and now being a member of Cockermouth U3A – currently an enthusiastic member of the Latin Group. Sue started volunteer duties at Kirkgate in November 2019. She is delighted to be able to continue to support and develop Kirkgate Arts and Heritage for the special community it serves.

David Thomas

Retired NHS Finance Director

David is a true Cockney – born within the sound of Bow Bells, in Plaistow, East London. Therefore, he is a life-long Hammers fan and still supports them for afar in Cumbria.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and spent much of his career as the Finance Director of various NHS Trusts. He also graduated in 1985 from the University of Manchester with an MA.

David retired early from full-time work in 2001 and since then has been a Trustee of many charities including Carers in Hertfordshire, Wavendon All Music, Bowness and Windermere Community Care Trust and Friends of Theatre by the Lake.

David and his wife Sue decided to enjoy their retirement in the Lake District and moved to Bowness-on-Windermere in 2008, relocating to Cockermouth in 2021. They enjoy the outdoors and have walked a great deal in the Lakes. Travelling is another passion and they have been to all 7 continents, enjoying meeting the peoples of the countries they visit and learning about their culture.

David and Sue have a real passion for the performing arts – theatre, and all types of music. They are great supporters of the arts in Cumbria – in particular Theatre by the Lake and now Kirkgate Arts and Heritage. David is delighted to have been appointed as a Trustee and Honorary Treasurer of Kirkgate and hopes that his experience and skills will help the charity’s development.