Kate describes herself as ‘holding the fort’, until we make a new permanent Director appointment (deadline for applications 29 October), but we have no doubt that with her wealth of expertise and focus she will be a real asset to the Trust. Kate will not only keep the Newman Brothers project on track, but moving forward with some gusto. I asked Kate to tell us a little bit about herself…
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m the Interim Director of BCT, ‘holding the fort’ until a full-time appointment is made. An architect by training, I’ve spent the last twelve years running Heritage Works, a building preservation trust based in Manchester. I head up a multi-disciplinary heritage consultancy, Creative Heritage Consultants Ltd.
What historic building projects have you managed?
The ‘big success’ that most people associate with Heritage Works is the restoration of Murrays’ Mills in the Ancoats area of Manchester. This was a £12m project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and North West Development Agency, completed in 2006. It won many awards, including the Georgian Group’s Urban Project of the Year. It involved the careful repair and strengthening of a massive complex of five-storey cotton-spinning mills built in 1798, grade 2* listed and largely derelict. I also led the restoration of St Peter’s Church in Ancoats, which has recently become the home of the Hallé orchestra, the repair and conversion of Causey Hall, Halifax, (a church hall that we converted into office space) and two Georgian houses on King Street, also in Halifax. Finally, I live in a former Smithy in Buxton, Derbyshire….
What are your first impressions of Newman Brothers?
It’s a very atmospheric site on an intimate scale. It’s an extraordinary survivor, surrounded by new buildings that look down on it, almost like a theatre audience looks down at the stage. The buildings are remarkably robust and flexible enough to accommodate a range of uses – the BCT project really will bring animation to that stage.
What are you going to be doing for the Trust over the next few months?
My role is to try and keep juggling all the many balls that Elizabeth Perkins managed to keep in the air at once! I’ll only be working three days per week, supporting the BCT Trustees, Development Officer and volunteers in getting the Coffin Fitting Works restoration contract on site, maintaining stakeholder relationships and assisting with activities that form part of the project’s outreach programme. I’ll also manage the Board’s statutory affairs, including the AGM in November and may be involved in facilitating discussions around the organisation’s forward strategy.
What are you most looking forward to about your time with us?
I love the early stages of projects and I really hope I’m around long enough to see the Coffin Fitting Works project start on site. In terms of new challenges, I’m looking forward to learning some social media skills, having never blogged or tweeted in my life! But most of all, I’m looking forward to working with some really enthusiastic people, getting to know what sounds like a terrific group of Trustees and volunteers and a very capable project team.