Meet The Team

Blackburn with Darwen Venues is only possible due to the hard work and dedication of the staff and volunteers. Alongside the management team who you can read more about below, we are supported by Box Office Clerks, Flexible Hall Attendants, Office Support staff, and an extensive team of casual duty managers, technicians, event stewards, bar and catering workers and volunteers.

Neil Dagnall

Venues Operations Manager

With 18 years working at KGH and with some time spent within most departments I have gained some fantastic memories of events and people who have both worked and played in Blackburn’s premier venue.  

I started out as an Assistant House Manager with responsibility for Facilities Management of the building, front of house duties and health and safety. After 18 months I was asked to help out within the bar and catering team as Assistant Bars and Catering Manager as the hall and Blackburn had a busy and thriving night time economy. Following a management reshuffle I was promoted to Bars and Catering Manager in 2010. Then the opportunity came in 2015 in my current role as Venue Operations Manager. 

I love my role with KGH. I am involved in all aspects of what all the individual teams do to make the building a success. I am proud of the people that work in the halls and I am constantly surprised by the quality of the acts and international artists that they manage to attract to what is a small regional town in Lancashire.  

I always enjoy the panto season at KGH and enjoy seeing all the kids from different schools getting really involved in the shouting and cheering, but the best night of all for me, and there have been many was the James concert. It was the best atmosphere and entertainment I have ever experienced. 

I think I enjoy my role so much because there is never a day that is the same as the day before. You never know what is going to happen mostly this is good, occasionally not so good. Having to stand on stage and tell 1800 people the concert has to finish early will be an all-time low for me. However we learn to take the rough with the smooth.  

Working in KGH and loving the job you do, interacting with great people and fantastic acts, and in a place that welcomes everybody makes me thankful for what I have. Long may it continue. 

Rebecca Weaver

Programming & Marketing Manager

Rebecca joined the Venues’ team upon relocating to Lancashire in 2011. After reading Music at Sheffield University she gained event management and marketing experience at a number of UK specialist music schools and venues such as Hertford Theatre, St. Helens Citadel and Square Chapel, Halifax.  She was originally offered a research position, looking at audience development for the Blackburn Classics Series.  This developed into a permanent role and in 2017 she was appointed to the position of Programming and Marketing Manager.

Rebecca has a passion for making the Arts accessible to all and facilitating others to take the stage. She believes in creating strong links with community projects, borough and nationwide initiatives, and enjoys strong relationships with Blackburn BID, Blackburn Cathedral Outreach Programmes & The Festival of Making.

Alongside this she focusses on the Venues’ Classical Music, Opera, Dance, Drama & Family Arts programmes. She strives to captivate the littlest minds in the borough and ignite an appetite for the Arts from their very first live performance – whether that be in the audience of one of our pantomimes or performing on our very big stages with Sing Together – these are our future audiences and Rebecca nurtures and prioritises the next generation as such.

Simon Holroyd 

Technical & Operations Manager

Simon is the newest official recruit to the team having joined as Technical & Operations Manager in 2019, but he is far from a newbie as he has worked with the team as a freelance technician since 2005. 

He’s a fantastic problem solver and is the ultimate Yes Man – he’ll always make your event work on our stages; going above and beyond to do so. He has also brought Darwen Live to the borough since its inception in 2000 and ran his own production company for 14 years. We were over the moon to welcome him into the team permanently and see him bring his experience of touring West Ends productions such as Thriller Live and Let It Be worldwide back to his hometown venues.

Christine Rowe

Assistant Manager (Darwen Library Theatre)

With 14 years experience at Darwen Library Theatre and many more before that at the famous Tower Room, Christine Rowe has seen a multitude of acts come and go at the Theatre. From panto to comedy nights nothing fazes Christine, she has met all the famous names and treats them all as if they were her next door neighbour.

A true lady from Darwen town, Christine loves the hospitality and entertainment world. Every day is different. Even the same acts visiting the venue always have a different experience and are always made to feel welcome by this friendly Lancashire treasure.

Toni Comer 

Programmer & Marketing Co-Ordinator

Toni started working here in 2006 behind the bars as a temporary job whilst home from studying BA English at university. She always had an interest in the arts with gigs, shows and festivals a priority in her spare time.  It quickly became clear that she had a passion for Comedy & Music and after completing a Publishing MA she moved into the office to adapt those skills from the page to the stage and carry on selling words to customers  just now in a slightly different format!

She focuses on the Comedy Programme, bringing new acts and promoters to the venues since 2012. She has a keen eye for finding and progressing new talent from her clubs through to the Concert Hall stage. If she is not running a comedy show with us; she’s listening to a comedy podcast, watching the latest sitcoms and panel shows or volunteering to manage shows for friends – she’s the ultimate Comedy Geek! 

Darren James

Programmer & Operations Co-Ordinator

Darren started running events and Deejaying in 1990 whilst still at school as a way of sneaking into gigs!  He was the Entertainments Officer for 3 years at University whilst he gained a Level 3 Events Management Qualification.  Darren, or DJ as he’s known to us, has focussed on the music programme across the venues since 2015 whilst also voluntarily programming the inaugural Darwen Live since 2013. 

Darren boasts many career highlights but will always be coy about his achievements – he says he still can’t get over how strange it is to work with all the people he watched on TV on Top of The Pops as a kid and can now have conversations about chocolate and trainers with! 

Lucy Smith

Box Office Co-Ordinator

Lucy began working within the Box Office team in 2001 and was appointed as Box Office Co-ordinator in 2011. She is an integral component as her work influences every other department’s decisions within our venues and her ability to foresee a problem for a customer and fix it before it happens is unparalleled. The praise she receives from agents, ticketing operators and customers for her kind, calm and diligent attitude makes her an incredible asset to the Venues team.

Rick Gallagher

Bar & Catering Co-Ordinator

Rick has worked his way through the ranks at KGH since 2006 stepping up to Bar & Catering Manager in April 2018. He is certified in cask marquee cellar management and has a level 2 qualification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust 

Our buildings have a lot of bars so Rick never stands still! He can always be seen running through the building, organising vast staffing teams and making sure each individual event is stocked and catered for. He loves tailoring cocktail menus and drinks offers for each event – and we love taste testing them before sale! He is always researching new ranges and keeping up with market trends so our patrons have the best choice of refreshments and snacks for our intervals.  

Linda Whitehead

Venues Support Assistant

Linda is the longest serving staff member at KGH having started in the middle of a very busy panto season in 1986. She joined as an Office assistant and still runs the office with military precision to this day. Linda has worked across many different sections of the building; managing Stewards, running events in FOH but now mainly oversees all finances for the building.
If Linda doesn’t know the answer to a question about the day to day running of our venues, well, nobody does. She is always the first port of call for all staff whether they need some paper or a to-the-penny calculation on a wage slip or invoice. The tales that Linda regales everyone with are often a welcome break for the office – this building has many a story hidden in it’s walls, and Linda can remember every single one of them!

Antony Leadbetter

Antony was our Technical Apprentice but has been become a fully fledged member of our technical team in 2020. He has spent time learning all the tricks of the trade in staging, lighting and sound from the highly experienced senior members of the team.

Box Office Clerks

Our Box Office Clerks: Graeme, Catherine and Rebecca work across both King George’s Hall and Darwen Library Theatre.
They are the first friendly faces you see at our counters or hear on the phone answering all manners of customer queries and selling your tickets.

Flexi Halls Attendants

Not much works in our venues without behind the scenes set-up from Paul, Martin, Lee & Tracey. Whether its setting out seating plans and dressing the auditoriums and dressing rooms or mostly importantly keeping everywhere clean and tidy, the flexi team work incredibly hard to ensure the customer gets the best experience in our venues from the second they enter.