Our people

The Festival is currently run by a small team of mainly seasonal, part time staff and a board of trustees, we are currently working towards gaining charitable status. If you want to find out more about the people involved in the Festival, there’s a little bit about them all here. And if you think that you might like to get more closely involved with the Festival, we would love to hear from you, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities at every level of the organisation, take a look at the volunteering page of the website.

Board members

Carol Taylor
Carol Taylor
Chair

Carol lives in Matlock and her background is in education, in Derbyshire and Sheffield, and most recently as the CEO of The Basic Skills Agency and Deputy CEO of NIACE. She has worked in schools, Higher, Further and Adult Education, and at a national level, both here and abroad.

“I am interested in enabling everyone to access the Arts, in their own community, and in enabling local people to create, see and interact with Art in the widest sense, especially families and young people. I enjoy books, performances and visual art, but often don’t understand it! I love the Festival for the way it opens my eyes and ears to new contemporary Art, and new young artists.”

John Wheeldon
John Wheeldon
Vice Chair

John has lived in Wirksworth for 25 years and has been involved in the Festival since it’s earliest days. A professional potter, John has also taught Art part time for many years and given workshops and demonstrations throughout Europe.

“As a potter I admire the work of many of my contemporaries but also love the history of ceramics especially that from the pre-industrial period, and the paintings of Alfred Wallace. Highlights of past festivals for me have been the Flamenco and Tapas (organised by Debi Hedderwick) and the Ironwork Exhibition, curated by Stuart Hodgkinson. I also loved the Postcard Art exhibitions where people could buy a piece of art, donated by politicians, actors and artists, for a tenner.”

Andy Jordan
Andy Jordan
Treasurer

Educated as a chemical engineer, Andy Jordan moved into IT management. After heading a university department, he set up a consultancy company. Amongst his clients were the UK Higher and Further Education Funding Councils, whom he advised on information service delivery, management and strategy. He is married to a practising artist. His favourite exhibitions of recent years have been of Roy Lichtenstein in Cologne, of Bob Viola at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and of the late Rembrandts at the gloriously reopened Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Frances Rostron
Frances Rostron

Frances lives in Wirksworth and has been involved with the Festival since offering her home as a venue in 1995. She worked as the Festival Trails Administrator for many years, but now works for Disability Derbyshire Coalition for Inclusive Living in Ripley, and is involved in various community groups in Wirksworth.

“I enjoy a range of visual and performing arts exhibitions and performances, a personal highlight was visiting the Lumiere Festival in my home city of Durham – the whole city becomes a gallery of light installations and is truly breathtaking!

There have been so many wonderful exhibits in the Wirksworth Festival over the years that it would be hard to highlight one. Showing work of amateur, student and professional artists is a privilege to be a part of.  I did, however, find the work of visiting Japanese artist Goh Ideta fascinating and memorable (2009-10), and also the  show in St Mary’s Church (2015).”

Katy McCabe
Katy McCabe

Katy lives in Starkholmes and is a full time Art and Design Teacher at Silverdale School in Sheffield. Her specialisms lie in ceramics and a love of landscapes but since teaching 11-18 year olds, she has been able to explore and enjoy working across a huge variety of art forms and techniques. Regularly encouraging her students to get involved with school and community projects is something Katy is also passionate about. Prior to teaching Katy has worked in a variety of arts environments including the Buxton and Cheltenham Festivals and has curated and volunteered with various creative projects.

“I absolutely love the vibe and excitement in Wirksworth throughout September and remain constantly amazed and inspired by the enthusiasm and creativity of the town and community. As a crafts person, for me it was Maggie Cullen’s figures that stole the show in 2015, such beautifully made and mysterious creatures that were offset perfectly by the atmosphere of the Church”.

Jenny Babenko
Jenny Babenko

Jenny lives in Wirksworth and is the Marketing Associate for Adverse Camber productions, working across the company’s touring programme.  Jenny has also worked at The Lowry in Salford Quays, West Yorkshire Arts Marketing, Derbyshire Dales District Council and as a freelance marketer for a range of organisations.

“I enjoy a huge range of performance from contemporary dance, to storytelling, theatre, music and family shows.  I really appreciate many contemporary artists including the huge amount of talent right here in the East Midlands.  Every Festival I’ve been to has had some wonderful highlights, one of my all time favourites was Tony Hill’s The Doors in 2010 and Vaughan/Storrar’s Depositree in 2013; it was great to discover Public Service Broadcasting through the Festival and the Community Celebration is always very special.”

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

Dave is a retired engineer with 40 years of senior management experience in manufacturing and has been involved with Wirksworth Festival since 2002. He is a venue manager for the Parish Room and St Mary’s Church, dedicated to supporting our community especially with their participation and involvement. As a player of three types of horn and with a tenor voice, Dave has supported many Wirksworth groups promote continuity and Festival performance. He introduced choral and orchestral workshops, the biggest achievement so far being Carmina Burana, held in Wirksworth’s sports hall in 2012.

Geoff Diego Litherland
Geoff Diego Litherland

Geoff lives in Wirksworth and is a professional artist who has exhibited widely and is also a lecturer on the Fine Art Course at NTU. Geoff is currently involved in setting up Haarlem Artspace, which will house studios and an exhibition space in the historic Haarlem Mill building in Wirksworth. Geoff was also Gallery Manager at the Bonington Gallery and has vast experience in curating exhibitions and organising art events.

“Contemporary Art has been central to my life for a long time now, and having recently moved to Wirksworth I’ve found the place very inspiring. Not only by the intriguing landscape that the town finds itself in, but more by the open, friendly and talented people that inhabit it. I look forward to working with the artistic community in Wirksworth over the coming years.”

Bill Lounds
Bill Lounds

Bill lives in Wirksworth and has been involved in the Festival since moving to the town in 2000, first as Trails Coordinator, and later as Chair. Still passionate about the importance of the visual and performing arts to the future of the town, he wants to see the Festival find a sustainable future in the changing world of arts funding. Trained as a town planner, Bill has spent most of his working life as a consultant advising on the conversion and management of old buildings, with a particular focus on the potential for regeneration through conservation.

“My highlight of the past 15 years was the opening the Parish Room as a gallery, and the installation by Dan Dubovitz in 2005.”

Pam Taylor
Pam Taylor

Pam Taylor lives in Wirksworth, works as a modern language teacher at the Anthony Gell School and is a long standing councillor on Wirksworth Town Council. She was a founder member of the Wirksworth Twinning Association and has worked with the Festival for over 20 years with a particular focus on performance.

“I’ve always enjoyed a wide range of performance, film and art exhibitions. One of my favourite artists is Jaume Plensa, whose immense, grandiose sculptures I’ve seen in Prague and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  I love challenging theatre and Nottingham Playhouse has always had a special place in my heart, whether, as a teenager, seeing Franz Wedekind’s “Spring Awakening” or a just a few years ago, Kneehigh’s “Tristan and Yseult”. But the Wirksworth Festival has always worked its magic for me… on numerous occasions pinching myself just to check that I’m really having this particular experience in Wirksworth… the sheer breadth and depth of talent within our community, the nurturing of our young people’s confidence and creativity, the artists of national and international repute who have been pleased to perform here. So many highlights…here’s just a few: Mark Lockett’s Gamelan, IndependDance 20:20 Vision – later performed at the Millennium Dome, the Hillsiders – a local radio soap opera, Jaleo Flamenco dancing at midnight down Coldwell St, Horse and Bamboo with their enormous threatening puppets, St John St Theatre – never failing to hit the spot, Public Service Broadcasting – fresh from Glastonbury, the Serbian film “Black Cat White Cat” shown in the old Baptist Church, Théâtre Témoin with their haunting take on bipolar disorder, Pae-Pae and his Usuthu Dance from Mamelodi in South Africa…..”

Visual Arts Panel

John Wheeldon
Frances Rostron
Katy McCabe
Geoff Diego Litherland
Jeremy Bournon (Guest Panel Member)

Staff

Rosie Phillips
Rosie Phillips
Festival Administrator

I live in Cromford and I became involved with the Wirksworth Festival in 2015 when I volunteered to help. I am an animal portrait artist (www.rosemaryjane.co.uk) and was interested in seeing what other artists in my area were doing. I thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the Festival – such a great display of art and an amazing atmosphere! I have a great love of many different types of both visual and performing arts, so it is really great that I am now the Administrator and will be involved at a deeper level throughout the Festival.

Phil Searle
Phil Searle
Festival Coordinator

Phil lives in Wirksworth and recently joined the team as the Festival Coordinator having previously opened his home as a venue.  When not working on the Festival he travels the winter working for the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation helping out nations who have no support. And yes, that includes the Jamaican Bobsleigh team as well as Australia and US Virgin Islands skeleton, Brazil and a host of others. Prior to that Phil had his own company delivering support services, event management and photography to a variety of clients including the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race where he was official photographer for 5 years. He has worked in Theatre and through his photography was privileged to be the lead photographer for ParalympicsGB at the Paralympic Games in London in 2012. His work has appeared in national and international publications, websites and TV and in the multi Oscar winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”.

“I am delighted to be working for the Festival having been a venue for the past 2 years. It’s great to be able to give back to a community and town that we so enjoy living in.   I have always had an interest in a wide variety of art initially through working in theatre but then through my work as a photographer and I look forward to welcoming the artists to this years Festival”

Hattie Kerrs
Hattie Kerrs
Trail Coordinator

Hattie lives in Wirksworth and is currently involved in a research project with Manchester Metropolitan University, exploring the Relationships of Craftspeople to Landscape, through their use of Material. With a background in Fine Art, and an Artisan Knitwear business, she has an established and wide ranging interest in creative practices.

‘Since moving to Wirksworth I find myself continually inspired and amazed by the place itself and the incredible community of people who live here. I am excited to be working with the festival this year, it being the reason I first visited the town, as an exhibitor. The wealth of artistic talent and rich history of the town itself, combined with the wonderful landscape in which it is situated, make Wirksworth a fascinating place to visit, the festival being the highlight of the calendar.’