Below is some background on some of the key people and employees within B4RN’s core team. Many were involved from the very start as B4RN’s founding management team, and others have joined more recently bringing key skills into the organisation.
B4RN Chief Executive, Barry Forde, is a networking expert with many years experience of designing, building and operating high performance networks. He was responsible for the CLEO network, which provides connectivity to over 1000 schools and public sector sites across Lancashire and Cumbria. He was the founding Technical Director of LUNS Ltd a telecommunications company which was one of the earliest independent companies to undertake local loop unbundling and which deployed equipment into 157 BT exchanges across the North West to offer private ADSL2+ and symmetrical broadband services. During his career at Lancaster University, he was head of networking, head of technical services and Deputy Director of Information Systems Services. In these roles he was responsible for the University’s networking and IT systems as well as overseeing the regional academic network C&NLMAN. He was a member of the JISC Joint Committee on Networking which oversees the JANET academic network which provides links to thousands of college and University sites. He was a member of the NWDA Broadband Advisory Group and sits on a number of committees involved with networking at a national level. Apart from providing the technical input for B4RN he also acts as a consultant to a number of local authorities establishing local high speed broadband plans. He holds a Professorial Fellowship in computer networking within the Department of Computing, Lancaster University. He was awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
B4RN Company Secretary, Monica Lee, was Visiting Professor of HRD at Newcastle Business School, and based at Lancaster University Management School for many years. She has worked with a wide portfolio of organisations in the UK, Central Europe, CIS and the USA, coordinating and collaborating in management development, research and teaching initiatives. She is a Chartered Psychologist, and is a Fellow of the CIPD and the RSA. She is actively involved in the local community and is Chair of Governors of Cawthorne’s Endowed School, Abbeystead, and a Trustee of the Cawthorne Educational Foundation. She is also a Director of L&K Group Ltd. which comprises a group of companies that serve the agricultural communities in the North West. She is a founding member of B4RN, and is one of the first directors as well as being on the management team. Monica also started the ‘Friends of B4RN’ charity. She sees the amazing effect that B4RN has upon isolated rural communities and is in awe of such a large co-operative volunteer effort that is changing people’s lives.
B4RN Director, Chris Carr, is a Yorkshireman by birth and studied law at Oxford. He was Principal of St Martin’s College in Lancaster for ten years and the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria before retiring in 2009. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire and chairs the Council of Blackburn Cathedral.
Chris lives in Aughton and with Hilary championed the drive to bring B4RN to the village. Chris remains active in digging in the B4RN network beyond the boundaries of Aughton and joined the Management Committee of B4RN early in 2015.
B4RN Director, Peter Hearne, was born and raised locally and has spent most of his adult life in and around the Lune Valley. Convinced that the B4RN venture would be of massive benefit to the community, he was an early investor and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the B4RN project from the beginning.
Originally qualifying as a Works Manager specialising in Production Planning and Control, Peter spent much of his early career in Sales and Marketing roles for large multi-nationals before building his own technology business from the early 1980s onwards. His on-going business interests reflect his long-term involvement with the built environment, with a special interest in historic listed buildings.
Formerly Chair of Governors of Beaumont College and currently a Director and Treasurer of North Lancashire Citizens Advice, Peter has been actively involved in community and voluntary work for over thirty years.
In all, Peter has close to 50 years’ experience in the development and management of organisations in both the commercial and charitable sectors, experience that he now brings to the board of B4RN.
B4RN’s Head of Networking, Tom Rigg, has many years experience in planning, developing, installing and maintaining service provider networks. Before joining the B4RN team he worked as the Senior Network Engineer at Lancaster University Network Services, where he helped expand the network capabilities to ensure excellent service to the educational sector across Lancashire and Cumbria. He was one of the first volunteers to help bring the B4RN network online and was delighted to join the company full time in 2015. He is excited to play a part in bringing rural areas true high speed broadband. Tom lives in Heysham with his fiancée, Barnaby the dog and Alfie the cat.
Kristina Fournier – B4RN Office Manager
Bruce has lived in Quernmore since 1986 and ran the village Post Office until its closure in 2008. He has worked as Clerk to Caton-with-Littledale Parish Council and continues as Clerk to Quernmore Parish Council. He has a degree in Engineering Science and previously worked for Leyland Vehicles. He is closely involved with a number of village groups and sees the success of this project as vital to the rural infrastructure.
Bruce worked as a volunteer in the early stages of the project and is now employed by B4RN as Project Manager and oversees most of the fibre blowing and Civils.
Studied horticulture at Pershore. Landscape contracting for Cheshire County Council, Wirral and Runcorn. Built and ran small business workshops at Farndon Cheshire. Woodwork, design and build commissions, church carpentry, work for National Trust, English Heritage and Conran. Last 15 years in Lancashire, private work and one to one woodwork tuition helping 80+ locals with furniture making. Project managed building of present home. Practical problem solving, fully committed to bringing vital broadband to us rural folk. Spare time listening to post 1805 music, Supported by rigorous wife Judy and feisty Millie the terrier.
David Ryall, B4RN’s Network Planner, lives in Garsdale, a quiet dale north of Dent, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Both dales are severely disadvantaged in terms of broadband, although as one local once said when discussing this “Aye well, we don’t have gas or mains water either do we?” With a successful career in manufacturing operations and project management Dave was inspired to do something about the rural broadband situation and took a career break, working for over a year network planning and coordinating a broadband project in his local area. He enjoyed this so much that he became a qualified fibre technician and volunteered with B4RN to gain experience before being recruited as a full time staff member.
A keen cave explorer and mountain biker for over 25 years, Dave has had a life-long love affair with maps (both using them and creating them) and now enjoys hugely a creative job which uses maps so much. His background in project resource and supply chain management should help coordinate the network builds he is involved in from feasibility and planning through to delivery.
Dave is also a North West Ambulance Community First Responder, a cave rescue diver, and is involved with a local red squirrel conservation project. Working with communities, maps and in beautiful rural areas is a dream come true for Dave for whom there is now ‘no going back’.
Alistair volunteered to help B4RN whilst still at university studying environmental science. He worked for a year before being hired as B4RN’s first trainee network engineer.
Amy Lis – B4RN Office Assistant
Paul Parsons – Trainee Network Technician
Ben Ashworth – Trainee Network Technician
Chris has lived in the Lune Valley for many years and is married to a farmer in Wray. She has been involved with the community in many roles over the years; for instance school governor and chair of Wray Endowed school during the eighties and early nineties and more recently supporter of a number of rural broadband projects. In 2002 she began campaigning for rural broadband and over the next few years helped establish a wireless network around Wray and a satellite network for rural farms. A founder member of Wray Com Com in 2003 and Wennet CIC in 2005. She is a pioneer of self installation fibre and a regular speaker at broadband events on the topic of rural broadband and DIY fibre build. She was awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Pat Close – Senior Helpdesk
Thomas has lived and worked in the Lune Valley for all his life. For the last 23 years has run a small engineering company in partnership with his wife. He became involved with B4RN through his work as the installer for the Wray and Wennet wireless networks. Thomas brings his extensive knowledge of the local area to the project. Because of his work on farms he is aware of installation issues, topography and engineering issues. Thomas is a mechanical engineer.
Mary is originally from an education background having taught in secondary schools in North Wales for some years. Having moved to LEA work, where she held Senior General and Principal Adviser roles, her interest and expertise in schools’ use of ICT led to parallel ICT advisory posts in two Local Eduction Authorities. This involved, initially, the rollout of National Grid for Learning funding and subsequent schools’ connectivity budgets. She participated in local, regional and national fora for schools’ ICT and developed bids for national, European and International funding streams. Networking experience included the management of the installation of the education elements of Sefton’s borough wide fibre optic network and subsequently a period of time managing the Manchester Education ICT network. Following her education career she ran her own business for three years. Since moving to the Lune Valley in 2010 she has become Chair of Governors at her local school, is a Parish Councillor, and is Honorary Secretary of the Lancaster branch of the Lancaster Association of Local Councils. She joined B4RN in early 2012 and was Company Secretary until 2015.
Ian has been employed as a Network Architect by a large US based company for the last 11 years. Prior to that he worked for a UK bank, helping support what was then one of the largest Internet banking systems in Europe. His specialist area of expertise is Network Security and he holds a CISSP Information Security accreditation. He started his career as a Civil Engineer working on projects around the UK and then went onto complete a M.S. degree in the US. Whilst there he funded his education by working as Network Administrator in the Engineering School which then resulted in retiring the “hard hat” in pursuit of fame and fortune in IT. He grew up in the Lune Valley and returned 7 years ago. Since then he has been involved with rural broadband, in particular with helping Wennet CIC a local community wireless broadband service.
Carl has worked for the NHS for the past 30 years. He is a Registered Nurse and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; he is currently employed by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust as a Learning & Development Specialist. His special interest is in clinical leadership & management development. Carl has worked on several regional and national working groups related to NHS staff development. Outside of his day job, Carl worked as a school Governor of 8 years and is also a Local Parish Councillor (Wennington). He has a keen interest (and some basic skills – all self-taught!) in information & communication technology and is regularly called upon by his immediate and extended family, as well friends, to help resolve their PC and computer network related issues. Carl is passionate about helping deliver hyper-fast broadband to rural communities who, from a business and political perspective, are all too often forgotten or ignored.
Martyn has been involved in IT ever since receiving a Sinclair ZX Spectrum for Christmas as a child. This sparked an interest that has never gone away. Having studied computer technology and programming at college he has worked in various areas of IT throughout his career such as hardware support on large mainframes, peripheral support, networking and software support. For the past 15 years he has worked for global IT services provider CSC and has been involved in managing systems for accounts with several thousand users. Due to his deep interest in IT he is aware what can be achieved when the community has the access to the best IT services and is why he has become involved in B4RN. He lives in the Lune Valley, (fortunately for him, the better connected part in terms of broadband) and an ex “townie” now fully converted to country living and so is keen to help the community get the best connectivity possible.
John first got involved with B4RN by filming the company launch in 2011 and subsequently led Gressingham’s planning and digging in 2013. He was on the B4RN management team and helped many communities get started, and still helps with B4RN publications and presentations. Living his whole life in the Lune Valley (Casterton and Gressingham) he sees B4RN’s greatest benefit being the engagement of the community.