Meet the Trustees of Kirkgate Arts

Could you be one?

We’re looking to recruit up to four new members for our Board. If you’d like to help shape culture and heritage in West Cumbria see here for more information.

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.

Derek Cannon (Deputy Chair)

Retired Headmaster

Derek has an MA in Classics from Oxford University and spent his working life teaching in independent schools. From 1984 until retirement in 2006 he was headmaster of St Hugh’s School, Oxfordshire. He had experience over a number of years as a governor of two schools set up as charitable trusts, held office on several regional and national independent education boards and committees and served on various inspection teams.

When work permitted, Derek has been actively involved in amateur and community theatre, both acting and directing, and is currently a front of house volunteer at Theatre by the Lake. He has had a house in Bassenthwaite for almost 30 years and lived there permanently since retirement. His association with the Kirkgate has grown from regular attendance at its events and appreciation of its great value to the community.

Derek hopes that his professional and other experience equips him to offer to the board of Kirkgate Arts skills of critical and constructive analysis, strategic thinking and people management and development.

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

Ex Executive Director, Theatre By The Lake

Patric Gilchrist was appointed as Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of Cumbria Theatre Trust in August 1998, initially to work on project management of the construction, fitting out and equipping of Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. From the opening of the theatre in August 1999, until he stood down in November 2016, he was responsible for the planning, funding, development, staffing and management of Cumbria’s only professional producing theatre.

He worked previously in regional theatre management, initially for five years as Administrator of Theatr Clwyd in North Wales (1982 – 1987), then for four years as Administrative Director of Salisbury Playhouse (1987 – 1990). 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 for a total of seven years with West Midlands Arts, variously as Drama and Touring Officer, for two years 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.

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

Emma Heys

Visual Merchandiser

Emma was born in West Cumbria where her mother ensured she was exposed to as many aspects of the arts as the rural location allowed.

After completing a degree in Textiles management at Leeds university she has worked within many aspects of the textiles industry from manufacturing and retail to supply chain management. Emma has always loved to travel and has lived and worked in the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver as well as New Zealand.

Emma returned to Cumbria with her family in 2011. They settled in the Cockermouth area believing that it would be a good place to bring up the family. So far they have been proved correct! 

She started to volunteer at the Kirkgate within weeks of returning to the area. Emma could see that the centre was a valuable resource to the community and wanted to do all she could to support it. Over the past nine years, she has taken on a number of roles in the organisation including duty managing, ops team member, chair of the Friends of the Kirkgate and joint volunteer coordinator. She hopes to bring her knowledge and insight in the operation of the centre to the board, as well as her perspective on what young families in the area want from the organisation.