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Friends of Wainsgate Steering Group

David Nelson, Andrea Holmes, Chris Barnett, Jane Morris, Patricia Skeet, Carol Hayward, Charlie Morrissey, Sally Dawson, Eddy Beasley, Julie Cockburn, Rob Hopper, Kate Drury, David Holmes 

David Nelson

I have been Chair of Friends of Wainsgate Chapel since 2006 when the organisation was formed to take over the day-to-day running of the building. On first visiting the Chapel I was immediately impressed by the its superb acoustic which inspired me to organise an annual concert series there which continues to runs from April to October. Concerts have featured many styles of music, including chamber and choral music, world, jazz and folk– all of the highest quality and attracting a regular and committed audience. There have also been several spoken-word events which have brought new audiences to the Chapel.

I’m an professional jazz and classical pianist and composer, and have been teaching piano, theory and composition since 1983. In 1990 I founded The Piano Club – the first ever piano meet-up group in the UK, which still meets regularly and has given many concerts locally.

In 1997 I became Music Director for the renowned pan-arts Hebden Bridge Arts Festival for 16 years – each year programming and putting on up to 25 events in a fortnight. These covered a wide range of musical genres and took place in a variety of (often unusual) venues.

In 2013 I founded the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival and have has been its Artistic Director since then. The Festival has gained an international reputation and has seen many top-flight pianists perform in Hebden Bridge. As Artistic Director I identify potential artists, programme them and negotiate directly with them or their agents. I also do most of the fundraising for the festival and lead communication with the Festival board, the Admin Director and the considerable number of volunteers needed to run this complex event (up to 19 performances in just over 48 hours!) which aspires to the highest musical and professional standards.

Andrea Holmes

As well as being Treasurer for Friends of Wainsgate, I am also a Finance governor at Old Town School – a few minutes’ walk from Wainsgate.

I graduated with a BA Hons in Law and Politics from the University of Central Lancashire in 1995 and went on to become a Chartered Management Accountant – qualifying in 2002.

I had previously worked for a number of telecom companies including Martin Dawes, O2 and Your Communications, before leaving the industry in 2002 to embark on a round-the-world trip for 6 months.  After taking time off to raise a family, I resumed work as part-time teaching assistant at Old Town School before joining Step5 (an IT consultancy) in 2015 as Chief Finance Officer.

Chris Barnett

I have lived in Old Town for over thirty years, and my involvement with Wainsgate began in 2017 after my retirement. My interest in Wainsgate was motivated mainly by my experience of working with historic buildings and by a growing interest in local history. I have always been fascinated by old burial grounds, and the graveyard at Wainsgate has become the main focus of my interest. I am involved in managing the graveyard as a community resource and also researching and recording the history of those who are buried there.

I have spent most of my working life involved with the repair, refurbishment and re-use of old buildings, including Grade II and II* listed buildings, and I have worked with Housing Associations, Local Authorities and architectural practices. I was part of the team at Allen Tod Architects responsible for Bradford Design Exchange, the conversion of three Grade II listed warehouses in Little Germany into studios and exhibition spaces, a project which received a Civic Trust Commendation in 1993. I was also involved in the early stages of rescuing Square Chapel, Halifax from dereliction and imminent demolition and its conversion into a vibrant arts and performance venue.

Jane Morris

I have lived ten minutes walk from Wainsgate Chapel for 25 years. I have neighbours who were involved with the chapel before it closed, and have known a number of people, neighbours and friends, who are buried in the graveyard. I love the way in which it has become a known and valued place, and all the wonderful events and activities which happen there. I am very committed to its continuing prosperity.

I began working life as a psychiatric social worker, firstly in the voluntary sector where I had a junior management role, and then within statutory services for local authorities. In the early 1990’s I trained in psychoanalysis and gradually switched my work to this discipline, within the NHS and privately. In the NHS I spent the last ten years as a senior clinical manager in psychological services.

During this time I chaired a steering group which established, with colleagues, a training course in Manchester which involved a lot of negotiation and liaison between a university who conferred the course as an MA, the Tavistock and Portman Institute NHS Trust who validated it, and British Psychoanalytical Council who accredited it. I taught on the course, and liaison with the three interested bodies continued.

Since retirement I have become a Trustee of three different charities, one a large community organisation managing a large building and employing about a dozen people, another a grant-giving body with funds from endowments and legacies, the third a local Quaker organisation.

Patricia Skeet

I have lived in Old Town since 1982, most of my life. My partner was buried in Wainsgate Chapel graveyard in 2004, after he died much too young.  I am very pleased to be part of this enthusiastic and friendly group, to help sustain the beautiful building and surroundings, with interesting and exciting events and projects.

I joined Friends of Wainsgate after retiring in 2019.   I had worked as a technical translator in France, then as a research administrator at the University of Bradford.  Later, I taught French and Spanish to adults and worked as a freelance flamenco dance teacher with adults and in schools.

I am a busy and committed member of local and regional groups, including Friends of Wainsgate Chapel, the Hebden Bridge group for the Quaker Congo Partnership UK and Hoot Creative Arts in Kirklees.  I continue to work with Flamenco music organisations.

Carol Hayward

I have lived in Old Town for 25 years and observed with great pleasure the slow but sure development of Wainsgate Chapel, its multiple activities and its increasing role in our local community and beyond. I was very glad to be invited to join Friends of Wainsgate when it expanded recently and to play my part in seeing it continue to thrive.

My professional life was largely spent working in multi-disciplinary teams within health or education as a therapeutic social worker, working with children and families in Birmingham and Bradford. I also worked 1978-87 as a hospital social worker at the District Hospital in York where, alongside my work with teenagers and young women at the hospital I also helped to set up and run a young people’s counselling service.

In Bradford I was part of a small voluntary group ( Bradford Women Singers ) who organised regular singing day workshops for up to 200 women (“Women Take Note”) for many years, and in Hebden Bridge I have been actively involved in helping to run the chamber choir (The Hepton Singers) in which I sing. This has included several separate European choir exchanges and a 2-year project funded by the EU involving 9 weekend workshops across 7 countries. I am also an active member of the Hebden Bridge Quaker group, and have rarely been without some responsibility for its organising in one capacity or another for the past 23 years.

Charlie Morrissey

I came across Wainsgate shortly after I moved to Old Town 5 years ago. You can feel the layers of history in this atmospheric building and churchyard hidden down a quiet lane up on the hill. It’s a special place.

When I first saw the Sunday School room with the light pouring in through its tall windows, I thought it would make a great dance studio, and so it’s been a great pleasure to have been part of developing the many dance events that have taken place there since then, and to join and support an ever growing eclectic and inclusive arts programme in the building.

I trained as a dancer and have been working internationally as a director, choreographer, teacher and performer for 30 years, on a wide and eclectic range of projects small and large.

A large part of my work has involved devising, creating and directing/producing performances and events for a variety of contexts and communities working with casts ranging in number from 1 to 1,000 people. Teaching is an important part of my work, and I have taught for dance companies and at dance colleges and universities, festivals and independent organisations in the UK, Europe and beyond.

I also have a history of curating and producing events, working with a wide range of venues and artists which underpins my work in developing Wainsgate Dances with Rob Hopper.

Since 2017 we have been producing an international programme of dance at Wainsgate, which includes residencies, workshops, performances, open-practice sessions and other dance related activities with a wide variety of people of all ages from near and far including a growing range of activities with Old Town Primary School.

The programme brings professionals from around the world into contact with local dancers and local residents, and people who have had little or no experience of dance, to observe, meet and work with dancers and choreographers who it’s rare to be able to encounter outside of big urban centres.

I really enjoy being involved in the steering group at Wainsgate. I am active in a whole host of different aspects of the care and development of the building and the events that happen in and around it.

For more information, you can go to www.charliemorrissey.com

Sally Dawson

I moved to Old Town in 2007 and have a studio at Wainsgate where I paint and am involved in the development of the wonderful place.  While I mostly paint large pictures of people – usually women, I also collaborated in a mixed media installation in the chapel called ‘Gather’ with Rob Hopper.  This incorporated archive sounds of the Wainsgate Chapel choir from the 1950s and the organ, with other recordings and local sounds as part of the Open Studios event in 2018.  I am very interested in capturing the history of places and people in different ways and re-presenting this so it is not lost.

Before I became actively involved at Wainsgate I enjoyed concerts, art shows, music gigs and used to come and sit for quiet reflection in the beautiful graveyard.

I went to art college in the early 80s and then produced mixed media live perfomances for a few years and wrote for arts magazines.  I was involved in supporting the development of women’s art with ‘The Pavilion – women’s photography centre’ in Leeds and ‘Feminist Arts News [FAN]’ a national quarterly magazine.  After a few years working in admin and finance at Yorkshire MESMAC sexual health service, I trained as a counsellor and went on to manage a young people’s mental health charity in Leeds.   The Market Place is still going strong and well regarded nationally as an example of best practice in young people’s alternative mental health provision.

I now work in private practice as a counsellor and trainer on mental health related issues.  I also sing and garden.

Eddy Beasley

I work in the local Accident and Emergency department as a mental health nurse.

I live locally to Wainsgate Chapel in another former chapel that I converted into my own home. I have overseen and managed the refurbishment of several historic buildings and devised and set up Red Acre Growing Project in Mytholmroyd. I am always hands-on with any building work and bring a wealth of experience, pragmatism and knowledge to the Friends of Wainsgate team.

Julie Cockburn

I have been involved with Wainsgate for many years, having lived nearby for most of my adult life. I became a founder member of Friends of Wainsgate, and was a part of its transition to the wonderful resource it has again become: at the heart of village life but with its amazing connections way beyond.

I used to call and talk with Marjorie Crowther – one of the last members of the old congregation, who lived next door to the chapel – and heard  many stories of chapel life, from someone who had been a member of the original Wainsgate choir, was married in the Chapel, and was eventually laid to rest in the burial ground in the old family plot.

In the past I was able to initiate the removal and relocation of the Methodist war memorial to Wainsgate, and organized the annual Heritage Open Day each September. For a number of years I was a member of the Bee Keeping group at Wainsgate and also part of the Wadsworth Environment Group who have been active in the upkeep of the burial ground.

I came to Friends of Wainsgate from a background as a practical person, having trained as a carpenter and joiner in the late 70s. In 1987 I completed a history degree at Manchester Polytechnic before  becoming a schoolteacher, again mostly in practical subjects. However, I’ve always found history fascinating and that drew me into involvement with Wainsgate. In the last few years my involvement has diminished because of increasing disability but the Chapel remains very important to me, and is the place where my own mortal remains will end up eventually.

Rob Hopper

I moved into the area 5 years ago and took on one of the studios at Wainsgate Chapel where I make ceramics. I became more involved with Wainsgate Chapel – joining the Friends of Wainsgate group and setting up events such as the Wainsgate Bazaar which showcase the work of local artisans. More recently I have taken a central role in administrating the Wainsgate Dances programme.

I also run a local community cafe with a team of volunteers.

I originally trained as a paediatric nurse before studying Interior Architecture at Brighton University. I then returned to work for the NHS where I managed a busy Outpatient department.

Kate Drury

My family and I moved to Old Town in 2007 and since that time I have been involved in the village school, as a governor, the community centre and Parish Council as a Councillor.  For 5 years I managed a girls’ football team with the Hebden Bridge Saints.  I have been involved with Wainsgate Chapel since 2016.  Work has taken me into many sectors including photography, website coding, special educational needs, public policy, agriculture and education events and fundraising.  I am currently back at the RAU studying MSc Sustainable Food and Agricultural Policy focusing on food security, justice and quality.

After graduating in BSc. (Hons) Agriculture and Land Management from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) 1996, I moved north living in and around Hebden Bridge.  My work has always included working on the 320 acre mixed enterprise family farm in Northamptonshire, consisting of cattle, sheep, arable, B&B and commercial lets.  I am also the chair of the English Central Region for the British Wool Board, representing Northamptonshire.

David Holmes

As a neighbour and volunteer at Wainsgate chapel since we moved to Old Town in 1992, and as a founding member of Wadsworth Environment Group, I have over the years played a lead role in restoring the graveyard to its present state. The many tasks have included the biannual graveyard tidy events, the clearing of major areas of self-seeded sycamore trees and rhododendrons, the management of a wild flower meadow, the removal of 30 tons of rubbish and grave spoil, and the creation of a compost processing facility. It is this compost that has been used over the years to fertilize the school garden and fill the jubilee planters at each end of the village.

Since retirement, my involvement with Wainsgate has been further strengthened by my membership of the Friends of Wainsgate Steering Group, which has enabled me to take a much more involved role in developing the chapel and graveyard into a vibrant community facility and widely recognised arts venue.

Retirement also gave me more time to devote to the Wadsworth Environment Group (WEG) of which I was a founding member when it was created in 2004. And it was whilst Chair of WEG that I worked with the Historic Chapels Trust to establish the Wadsworth Beekeeping Group and create what has become a very successful Apiary at Wainsgate. Many Wainsgate residents have enjoyed the all-pervading smell of honey every October when the extraction has taken place in the Sunday School room.

My professional life which was about as far removed from the world of heritage and wildlife conservation as is possible was completely consumed by large computer systems engineering; a career which commenced with the installation of a system for British Railways in 1967, and ended as the lead architect for HMRC systems and data centres in 2009.