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.
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.
Office and Administration