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.
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.
Director and 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.
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.
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.
Director since December 2016, Ian Thompson, born in Cumberland (not Cumbria), studied Industrial Technology & Management at Bradford University and worked with manufacturing businesses both as an operations manager and as a management consultant. Following fifteen years living in Australia and Asia, Ian returned to the UK and settled in North Yorkshire.
Ian joined B4RN as a volunteer in September 2014 in order to connect the houses in his immediate community but caught the bug and likes nothing better than to be at the bottom of a muddy hole. He holds the record for the number of chambers dug up, replaced and moved to new locations!
Chief Operating Officer, 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 Wife, Daughter, Barnaby the dog and Alfie the cat.
Network Build Manager
Network Engineer, Bruce Alexander, 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.
Network Engineer, Iain Robertson, 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.
Network Engineer, Alistair Adams-Huset, volunteered to help B4RN whilst still at university studying environmental science. He worked for a year before being hired as B4RN’s first trainee and has recently been promoted to Network Engineer.
Network Support Engineer
Alex grew up with fusion splicers and testing kit under the coffee table and other strange places at home. She started volunteering with B4RN as a qualified splicer in 2016.
Enthusiastic about the work B4RN does for the community, she continued to spend holidays from University volunteering with us until she finished her studies. She took a full time position at B4RN in September 2018
Trainee Network Engineer
Network Engineer and Electrician
Customer Support Manager
Community Liaison and Planning Coordinator, David Ryall, 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’.
Network Planning Assistant
Network Planning Assistant
Network Planning Assistant
Head of Civil Engineering
Trainee Civil Engineer
Office and Administration