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B4RN Volunteer Gina Stars In DCMS Case Study

February 24th, 2021
Author: Mark Gray
Posted In: Latest news

Gina fitting a chamber lid in typical B4RN weather!

Long time B4RN volunteer, Gina Barney, is the subject of a DCMS case study.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has highlighted her as an “inspirational community broadband champion.”

You can read the article here, while Gina tells us in her own words below what it’s like to volunteer for B4RN.

“What I most like is meeting and talking to people (and drilling holes)”

“B4RN is great. I love it”, says Gina. Perhaps no surprise given her background as Director of Networking at Manchester University.

She says putting the network in Cautley was “real fun”, adding she and other volunteers ploughed on whatever the weather.

Gina recalls one particular challenge, “problems such as the River Rawthey were solved with a farmer’s bow and arrow, some binder string, two cubic metres of concrete and a wire catenary across the 30metre gorge.”

Gina’s well known among local volunteers and admits to telling them off for things like getting chambers wrong. She know she’s not perfect though: “On the very last section of 34km of duct to the Cross Keys Inn what do I do? Crimp the duct and get a telling off myself.”

Meeting people is a highlight for Gina. In 2018, she needed a wayleave. The farmer turned her away. Gina went back on the day of the local elections. She picks up the story on the 3rd of May that year, at 8pm: “We stood on the doorstep for 20 minutes and he eventually let me in. It was dark so I asked if he would put the light on. We sat on the floor for an hour just talking and he missed casting his vote. I got the wayleave; and a friend. He’s sadly is no longer with us.”

Gina doing a house install. Not averse to small spaces!

Gina enjoys doing house installations. “The faces of the residents are unbelievable”, she says, “this octogenarian woman turns up waving a one metre bit on the end of a SDS impact drill.” She’s drilled 80 holes in residents’ walls for free (although a post-job tipple of sherry and whisky has occurred as thanks). She’s not put off by lying in cupboards!

With Cautley done, Gina’s been helping out Lunds. It’s a rugged patch – a gateway further north for the B4RN network to Mallerstang.

It took a year to get 12 properties on, despite Covid.

Gina has a lot of time for the B4RN staff and contractors too. She recalls helping one contractor retrieve his favourite “puncher” from under the A683. Then there’s a memorable anecdote about having to shoo away an ostrich from one of our splicing team!

Gina says she’s not too old to learn: “On one occasion in Lunds this keen and younger volunteer questioned my ability to walk a rough track near Lady Anne’s Highway to sort a route out. He was being considerate. Off we go with me leading and showing off. What happens? I slip in a beck. There was a lot of swearing. Down to Sedbergh Health Centre for 11 stitches.”

So is it time to stop? “I really can’t. I have learnt a lot about rural networks. What I most like is meeting and talking to people (and drilling holes). They all eventually trust me and now I know where all the house keys are in Cautley.

“The next project (subject to B4RN approval) is on the outskirts of Sedbergh. Another 19 properties. Piece of cake.”

There was no Health and Safety guide for this scenario!

Gavin And Belinda Second Nature Smallban

Stories from out in the field from our very happy customers

One residential customer in Over Kellet used to know whether it was worth firing up her computer by looking out of her front window to see what the weather was doing with her telephone line.

Customer Testimonial

We juggle two jobs from home, and it’s just been a game-changer. Just sign up! It’s the best internet service I’ve ever received, and I’ve moved a thousand times!
Georgiana, Dentdale
It has allowed us to improve our farm business through the implementation of Wi-Fi heat detection ankle bands on our herd, and thus improving our business productivity.
Heather Whalley, Farmer
OMG it is amazing! I don’t want to go back to London, which was faster than here, but not now! Just to say a BIG THANK YOU to all you guys, what a great thing you are doing. I’m shocked not everyone is signing up!
Customer in Norfolk
After lambing 1300 ewes a good film is what I want to watch and because we have B4RN that is no problem. Just enables me and my family to get on.
Farmer (Anonymous)
It’s like going from a Ford Anglia to a jet engine!
Jackie Frankland, Rathmell

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