Meet the Board of Trustees

Maggie Harwood

Maggie worked for BBC TV for 24 years in the costume department as a designer.

She trained as a teacher and worked at Macclesfield College teaching adults with learning disabilities and also ran a Volunteer Scheme there. Maggie then became the manager of Charity: East Cheshire Advocacy and became the Chair of the National Coalition of Citizen Advocates. This involved not only managing regular Trustee meetings, but also holding National Conferences on Advocacy.

Since retiring, Maggie became a Trustee of The Rossendale Trust in Sutton, Macclesfield, who provide supported living for adults with Learning Disabilities.

Maggie has designed and made the costumes for two Pantomimes with Will and Joe, Hope Mill’s founders, and designed the costumes for RAGS the Musical.

Maggie has been involved with the theatre from its inception, and is immensely proud of all that Will and Joe have achieved over the 4 years they ran the theatre as a business.

“When asked to turn the business into a Charity, I was happy to take on the role. I have a really good team of Trustees with varying skills, and the staff at Hope Mill are very supportive of the Board.

Hope Mill Theatre is moving into a new and exciting future, and I am very happy to be part of it.”

James Cullen

In 1956 James studied fine art at Stafford College of Art. After graduating in 1962 he went on to study industrial ceramics in Stoke leading to founding his first high growth business.“Culinaire Ceramics” An earthenware pottery company manufacturing a large range of domestic pottery sold across the world.

Signs of becoming a serial entrepreneur emerged when he established the first visitor centre in the potteries whilst simultaneously creating The Waterloo Art Gallery setup to invite visitors from national organisations such as the WI. He first saw the potential of computers in business through the ZX Spectrum in 1982 and became the first in the pottery industry to harness computer power for finance, stock control & distribution.

In 1988 the Griffiths Report initiated the closing of psychiatric hospitals. The community care act followed and James responded by organising a company to support adults with a learning disability to return to their
community. This experience triggered a passion to support vulnerable people and challenged him to create many more innovative services in their support.

After revolutionising models of residential/nursing homes he went on to develop other services including OFSTED regulated Regent College, structured day activities and disability enterprises such as Café Life & RCTV successfully managed by the service users. The Group which ultimately employed over six hundred staff was sold in 2018 leaving James free to concentrate on his mission to find a solution to the escalating number of abuse cases experienced in residential homes in spite of the CQC vetting & barring regulations.

His collaboration with Harold Sharples the research psychologist led to the formation of Care Quality Ecosystems Ltd an organisation that not only enables homes to become abuse resistant but energises management teams to earn “outstanding” in the Care Quality Commission inspections. James is mentioned in The Who’s Who of Britains Business Elite.


Darren R L Gordon

Darren is a native Londoner who has lived and worked in the northwest for over 20 years.

He is an industry creative who runs his own Actor training company, Actor’s Agency and film production company. He is excited to be on the board of trustees at Hope Mill Theatre and to be working to further develop its links with the local community.

Andrew Richards

Andrew spent most of his working life in finance in the private hospital industry and retired early about four years ago. Having taken the decision to retire, Andrew found he could spend his time helping worthwhile causes. The opportunity to become a trustee of the Theatre of Creativity came about through knowing Maggie Harwood.

Although his working life was spent in hospitals, the financial challenges of running a charity will give Andrew chance to put his experience into a new industry. Andrew’s daughter also works in costume in the theatre industry, sparking an interest in the way the sector operates financially.

He believes that charity is important in this country and is keen to both raise money but also ensure that it is spent wisely and ensure it operates within its means.

Caroline Pinney

Caroline has always been interested in the theatre, and the arts generally. She works as a solicitor, and being a trustee of the Factory of Creativity is a wonderful opportunity to combine her love of theatre and the creative arts, with her knowledge and experience of the legal system.

Caroline also has a particular interest in helping make the theatre as accessible as possible to disadvantaged individuals and groups.


Tom Kent

Tom has worked in HR for the last 10 years in various companies, starting off as a HR Manager at Tesco and his previous role was as a Senior HR Consultant supporting a number of multinational companies as well as charities and SMEs.

Tom’s current role is as Head of HR for a Leisure Trust based in Stockport who support residents in the local area by managing 13 leisure centres, sports classes and activities in the community. He understands the challenges that charities face whilst working for one over the last 12 months and believes that holds him in good stead when working with the Factory of Creativity.

Tom has a real passion for theatre and when the opportunity came up in the beginning of the year, it seemed like a great fit with his skills and an opportunity to support Hope Mill Theatre during an exciting time. Tom will support the charity with HR, employment law, contract law and managing all employee relations issues alongside the Artistic and Executive Directors.

Tom has been to a number of shows at Hope Mill over the years and knows that with the support of the board of trustees and the dedication that all employees of the charity will show, that this can be a huge success.


Andrew Rawlinson

Andrew was born and bred in the Lancashire/Yorkshire border town of Todmorden, where his interest in the arts and performing first started as he joined the local Youth Theatre at Todmorden Hippodrome. Following on from this, and several years later, Andrew established an award-winning Murder Mystery company, and presented regular daily afternoon programmes for regional radio.

In a career spanning 20 years in professional arts, Andrew has been fortunate enough to work across both the subsidised and commercial sectors, starting as General Manager of national and international touring theatre company, Horse + Bamboo, after which became Executive Director and Chief Executive of Blackfriars Arts Centre in Boston, Lincolnshire. In the mid-noughties Andrew was fortunate enough to take up a career with Ambassador Theatre Group, becoming General Manager of The Palace Theatre in Manchester; moving on from there to lead Sunderland Empire Theatre, and then Liverpool Empire Theatre respectively; hosting number one touring productions such as We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia and Mary Poppins.  Continuing his career with ATG, Andrew is currently enjoying a national role supporting some of the UK’s most iconic venues, including Edinburgh Playhouse and Bristol Hippodrome.

Aside from his national role with ATG, Andrew is also a GoDA Adjudicator, annually adjudicating drama festivals In England, Wales and Ireland. Andrew has two children, both of whom have inherited the family love of theatre and the arts, and are members of the same youth theatre where Andrew first fell in love with theatre.

Andrew is delighted to be joining Hope Mill Theatre as a Trustee; ‘what a fantastic achievement by William and Joseph and the team; to have seen this organisation grow and gain the much-deserved recognition from both audiences and the industry has been an immense pleasure, and I am genuinely excited to be involved in supporting the organisation as it writes the next instalment of its success story.’ He said.