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Meet the Board

Cllr Lyn Barton

Lyn is the Colchester Borough Council representative on the Mercury Board. She studied Drama and English in London and went on to teach the subjects in London and Colchester Schools. She had the privilege to be selected as a theatre critic for the Laurence Olivier Awards for one year during which time she saw every West End production. It was a brilliant experience and confirmed her belief that theatre can change lives. She believes the Mercury Theatre is an integral part of the Colchester scene and oozes talent, enthusiasm and commitment.

In her own words: ‘I am proud to be a Board Member of such a vibrant establishment. These are exciting times with the imminent refurbishment and I am pleased to have an input into the improvements to not only the theatre but also the public realm area surrounding it.’

Kathleen Hamilton

She has worked in theatre management and administration for over 30 years with companies including Belgrade TIE, Coventry, Common Stock, Extemporary Dance, Colway Theatre Trust.  For five years she worked as a Drama Officer for the Arts Council of England, with a period as Acting Drama Director, before joining the Leicester Haymarket Theatre in 1996 as Executive Director. From 2000 she worked as a freelance manager and consultant for companies including Derby Playhouse, ATG, London Arts Board, TMA, Arts Council England and Adzido Dance prior to joining the Theatrical Management Association (now known as UK Theatre) in 2003, as Principal Officer. In 2011 she joined the Hackney Empire as Director of Theatre and Operations. She now lives full-time in Suffolk and became Chair of the Mercury Theatre in December 2013.

Bryan Johnston

Bryan is a Solicitor and Managing Partner of GoodyBurrett LLP Solicitors. He specialises in commercial contract negotiation, commercial litigation, civil litigation and employment law. He is also a qualified mediator and sits on the Employers Panel of NEST (National Employment Savings Trust).

Bryan originally came to Colchester having served with the British Army. He left the Army after commanding an infantry company during the first Gulf War. He is a former District Councilor and stood for Parliament at the 1997 election. He is the past President of the Colchester Committee of the Essex Chamber of Commerce 2008-2012.

He is married  and has three children and two step children. He likes sailing, skiing, cycling and writing plays, but not necessarily in that order.

Reggie Lloyd

He is an associate solicitor at Birkett Long. He qualified as an Air Diver at HMS Vernon, Portsmouth (1978) and then as a Saturation Diver in Marseille, France (1984). Before joining Birkett Long, he was a professional North Sea diver and then an employed barrister.

Reggie specialises in employment law and employment law related civil litigation. He has extensive experience in all aspects of employment law but increasingly specialises in contentious work and litigation using his barrister training. He regularly appears as advocate on behalf of both claimants and respondents in Employment Tribunals and also conducts County Court litigation. He has a particular interest in race, disability and sex discrimination issues as well as various forms of contractual dispute.  He is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association, loves rugby, music, theatre and skiing.

Patrick Sandford 

Patrick was for over 20 years Artistic Director of the Nuffield Theatre Southampton, where the programme included major classics as well as new writing and British premieres of foreign work. He won the Theatre Managers’ Association award for Best Director for Shakespeare’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and a new play by Claire Tomalin, THE WINTER WIFE. Previous Artistic Directorships include the Redgrave Theatre, Farnham and The Lyric Theatre Belfast, where he produced and directed many new plays about the political situation. His productions have been seen several times in the West End and on the Fringe (both London and Edinburgh), as well as extensively on tour throughout the UK and abroad (USA, Canada, France, Australia, South Africa…). He is currently ‘dramaturg’ responsible for text on KING LEAR at Shakespeare’s Globe, and his own performance piece GROOMED (which won three outstanding theatre awards at the Brighton Fringe in 2016) opens at the Soho Theatre in June of this year.

Deborah Sawyerr

Deborah is currently Executive Director at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Previously Deborah was General Manager at the Bush Theatre and Executive Director at Talawa Theatre Company. Prior to Talawa, Deborah was the Production Manager at Nottingham Playhouse and Palace Theatre Watford. Predating this, Deborah has worked as Stage Manager and Deputy Stage Manager with Theatre Royal Stratford East and a range of touring theatre companies including Graeae Theatre Company. Deborah has also taught as Senior Stage Management Tutor on the Stage Management and Technical Theatre Diploma at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Deborah also has a range of experience in Event Management on corporate and public events. She has a diploma in Life Coaching and is a certified Prince2 practitioner. She has been a board member at the Independent Theatre Council and Shape and is currently a board member at Upswing.

Prof. Michael Sherer

Michael is Emeritus Professor of Accounting and Auditing at Essex Business School, University of Essex.  He has written books and journal papers on a wide range of accounting and auditing subjects, including a political economy of accounting, audit automation, corporate social responsibility reporting, enterprise resource management, earnings management, and corporate governance of UK universities.

During his 30 years at the University of Essex he was the founding head of the Department of Accounting and Financial Management, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Dean of the Graduate School, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor .  In 2008 he was appointed the first Director of the new Essex Business School and continued in that role until 2013.  Although he retired from the University in 2015 he continues to supervise PhD students and write academic papers.

Michael is also the Chair of the Board of Real Circumstance, a Colchester-based theatre company, and an enthusiastic bridge player and golfer.

Jennie Skingsley

She is an Associate and the Marketing Manager at Birkett Long. Her key responsibilities are creation of the firm’s marketing strategy and ensuring activities feed directly into achieving the firm’s main objectives. She runs a team of problem solvers who help their teams identify opportunities and manage the firm’s profile consistently. She is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and has completed the Professional Diploma in Marketing.

She sits on the Parochial Church Council of St Andrew’s Church in Halstead, and in 2015 also became a Trustee of registered charity the Friends of St Andrew’s Church. In March 2016 she was invited to become a Board member at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester.

Much of her spare time is taken up by music (and shoes!). She is the co-founder and musical director of Exaltation! Choir. At St Andrew’s Church, she coordinates the worship band at their informal ‘Ignite’ services. She is a Grade 8 flautist and, as well as singing, she is occasionally found enthusiastically bashing a cajón (slightly out of time).

Matthew Swan

He was born in Essex and spent all of his childhood and school days living on the family farm. At 16 he decided to join a bank rather than spend the rest of his life getting up at 5am each morning. Still in banking after 32 years, he sighs whilst saying ‘How times have changed, since when my main job during the Christmas period was to ensure the fire in the banking hall was at full blaze.’

For the last 15 years he has been a Commercial Manager looking after 40-50 local and regional businesses which range in turnover from £2m to £50m. The experience he has gained over the past years and contacts within the business community have enabled him to help several community organisations. In 2011 he was given the opportunity to become a Trustee for the Mercury. In his own words ‘It is an iconic organisation which does tremendous work and I am very fortunate to work with the board and staff to help in any way I can to achieve the organisations goals and aspirations.’

He has lived in Colchester for 12 years with his wife, his three daughters and the other male of the house, his dog George. When he is not spending his time driving to and from dancing or piano lessons, you will find him watching Colchester United or Colchester Rugby Club. Generally a keen sportsman although now a watcher rather than player.

Simon Warwick

Simon lives locally with his wife and two children. He joined the Mercury Theatre Board in 2013. Simon trained as an actor at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, leaving in 1985. He worked extensively in touring theatre, including a lengthy run with the Mercury Theatre Repertory Company in 1987, where he was seen in productions such as Annie, The Ghost Train and Having a Ball.

After appearances in Pantomime with Les Dawson, he toured the UK in various thrillers including Deathtrap, playing one of the lead characters, Clifford Anderson, opposite Colin Baker. This led him to the small screen where Simon played a small role in the 1989 TV mini-series re-make of Great Expectations, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jean Simmons. After his West End theatre debut in the 1989 musical adaptation of Metropolis, Simon put his acting career on hold to co-produce the hit West End comedy The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by The Reduced Shakespeare Company with a young Producer called Edward Snape. This relationship flourished with Simon and Edward forming what was to become one of London’s most highly respected theatre ticket agencies, The Ticket Machine.

In 2013, after 22 years as CEO of brands such as Group Line and, he sold the business to Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) and subsequently retired from the London theatre scene in 2014. He is now the Chairman of Essex based group experience company, Groups Direct.

Robert West

Rob joined the Board at the Mercury Theatre in 2015. He is the Programme Director at Creative & Cultural Skills – a not-for-profit organisation giving young people opportunities to work and learn in the creative industries through its network of industry supporters and education partners – the National Skills Academy.

Rob heads up the National Skills Academy in England having joined Creative & Cultural Skills following roles including Associate Director (Education) at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, and eight years as Senior Theatre Officer for Arts Council England. He also ran Insite, a programme using the Essex cultural scene to build up the tourist market in the county. Projects included the site-specific piece Souterrain, and the touring Three Heads in the Well, both produced with the Mercury Theatre in 2006.

Rob has also worked professionally as an actor, writer, director and producer, and was previously Vice-Chair at the Queens Theatre Hornchurch until joining the Mercury Board. Rob has presented at conferences and events both here and abroad, and is also currently a member of the Digital, Creative and Cultural Advisory Group at the University of Essex.

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