Meet the team that provide the wealth of knowledge and skills here at Signal Film & Media

Kerry Kolbe
Loren Slater


On returning to the area after university, former school mates Kerry and Loren returned to their hometown in nearby Ulverston to pursue their dreams of working in film and to provide access and opportunities for likeminded people. Back in 2001, they set up the first version of what later became Signal Film and Media in Barrow, to offer activities for people who would otherwise be excluded from the creative and digital sector.

After a few different homes, Loren and Kerry raised over £2 million to transform the derelict Victorian ‘Cooke’s’ building on Abbey Road into the creative media centre, which opened in December 2011.

Since those early beginnings, Kerry has an MA in Screenwriting course from the National Film and Television School, is part of the BBC Writers’ Room & is writing for the Peaky Blinders’ VR experience  while Loren and her partner, Director Matt Palmer have recently finished their BAFTA-winning feature film & Netflix Original CALIBRE (15) & will soon be starting production with Bong Joon Ho & Participant Media on an exciting new drama.

They are both still incredibly active and passionate filmmakers within the industry whilst balancing their executive roles here at Signal.

Kezz Turner


Project Manager for the Cooke’s Crew youth programme, Kezz also works across all strands here at Signal, supporting through coordination, recruitment & marketing skills during the day-to-day administration and delivery for our year-round programme of events. Having a background in visual arts and performance, she’s usually visible through a variety of client-facing roles. Kezz is also an actress represented by Cartwright-Higgins Management & recently performed at The Lowry & in a BUPA ad campaign.
Karen Bird

Karen Bird: Youth Project Delivery / Trustee

A rare female director who created pop promos for ‘Godfathers of music video’ Godley and Creme in the late 80s, working with artists including John Lydon, Trent Reznor and Van Morrison. Karen returned north to hone her storytelling skills and pursue her passion for helping others develop their creativity after working for many years for the UK Film Council as a mentor on crew trainee schemes on productions such as Channel 4’s SHAMELESS and the BBC’s WATERLOO ROAD. Primarily a writer/director, Karen has overseen production of over 30 short films at Signal which have screened at festivals around the world and won numerous prizes. She is currently in post-production on her own latest short film.

Phil Northcott

Phil Northcott: Co-Curator / Producer

A curator and arts coordinator who has over 20 years experience working with national and international artists on multidisciplinary exhibitions and projects. He coordinated the first UK re-staging of Daniel Buren’s Voile Toile / Toile Voile in the Lake District and a significant exhibition for Cumbria of US Abstract Expressionism, Guston in Grasmere. He has a masters degree in Curation in Fine Art after studying at The University of West of England. Phil works on the development and delivery of our digital arts and heritage programmes.

Jon Borgia

Jon Borgia: Technician / Project Coordinator

The person to fix all things here at Signal, able to support sound, lighting, digital media and more technical skills than you can shake a stick at. From exhibition curation and coding to website design and multimedia engineering regularly called upon, Jon’s background is in software design for the arts, media and computing and in events management, having coordinated artists gates at festivals & events for many years.

Joanne Hewitt

Joanne Hewitt: Youth Programme Manager

Jo taught Art, Design and Photography and was Head of Faculty for Expressive Arts in high schools across Luton for 12 years before she moved north in 2019. She continues to be passionate about working creatively with young people in new and inventive ways. Jo oversees all of our youth activities and builds relationships with local frontline groups and parents to ensure our community’s hardest to reach young people can take part. Jo especially loves producing film shoots where she gets a buzz from being on set amongst the action.

Liz Critchley

Liz Critchley: Adult Programme Manager

A Barrow native and highly experienced arts and heritage manager, Liz joined us in September 2021 from her role at the National Trust at Sizergh Castle, Fell Foot, Dalton Castle and Acorn Bank. Before that Liz worked at the Dock Museum, and she is thrilled to be back in her hometown engaging with our many adult volunteers and participants. Liz has a degree in History of Art and an MA in Museum Studies and  has a wealth of local knowledge and understanding of the community we serve.

Nicola Baker

Nicola Baker: Development Lead

Nicola has a MSc in Management and Business and 20 years of experience raising tens of millions in cultural and environmental fundraising. She has previously worked in regeneration at Barrow Regeneration and Furness Enterprise before taking up roles at nationwide charities the Marine Conservation Society and the National Trust, managing operations and high-value grants and donations. Working to deliver our exciting development plans, Nicola raises funds for the organisation as well as acting strategically to ensure the charity is sustainable and fit for the future.

Sam Millar

Sam Millar: Fundraiser

An experienced development consultant with over 20 years experience in the cultural Sector, Sam’s roles have included being Head of Development for Lakeland Arts, and on the other side of the grant process, working as a Grants Officer for the Heritage Lottery Fund. Her wide-ranging portfolio includes raising funds and developing projects for artistic and learning programmes, heritage projects, community initiatives and large capital projects, including the £17m capital project ‘Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats Steams & Stories.’

Ilona Bitner

Ilona Bitner: Community Producer

Originally from Poland, Ilona is passionate about fine art and photography. She is developing her flair for creativity by assisting on workshops, managing projects and engaging with the community – as well as providing admin support across all projects. In her spare time Ilona is an accomplished henna artist working across Cumbria and a trustee for Furness Multicultural Forum.


Helen Watson


Helen has over twenty five years’ experience working nationally in museums, galleries and heritage. She has worked for national institutions, the private & commercial sector and charities. Recent roles include Director at The Tetley, Leeds, a pioneering centre for contemporary art and Director of Programming, Lakeland Arts, one of the North’s leading arts and heritage organisations. Helen’s expertise lies in artistic and learning programming, curation, organisational development and change management. She has an MA in Museum Studies, is an Associate of the Museums Association, a Coach and Clore Leadership Fellow.

Rachel Capovila


A freelance artist & filmmaker from and based in Barrow, She has experienced community arts Project Manager. Rachel has produced many of the award-winning film projects here at Signal. Rach’s artistic work is a cross-disciplinary practice exploring the relationship between memory, place and historic narrative.  Often utilising the local natural world within her work Rachel’s practice encompasses film, textile and installation. Her work has been to the Venice Biennale twice and has been published with Pyramid and Thames and Hudson.

Joanna Roy

Joanna Roy: Digital Art Project Manager 

Leading an ambitious digital arts programme strand here at Signal, Jo has brought a wealth of national and international talent from artists around the world here to Barrow as part of the project. Having worked previously at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and Abandon Normal Devices Festival, she also lectures at Manchester School of Art in Graphic Design. Jo also works as a freelance Graphic Designer and is responsible for Signal’s new branding and website overhaul.

Julia Parks

Julia Parks: Heritage Project Manager 

Part of the 2020 FLAMIN fellowship, film, animation and photography in her work, often through 16mm film, in exploring the different relationships between landscape, place and people, often focusing on the west-coast of Cumbria. She graduated from Central Saint Martin’s School of Art in 2015 and has since exhibited work in exhibitions and film festivals in the UK, Europe and Japan. In April 2018 she was also featured on BBC COUNTRYFILE where she demonstrated how to develop 16mm film using seaweed. 
Adam Pickford

Adam Pickford: Project Assistant / Editor

The youngest member of the Signal team, but by no means the least accomplished. An award-winning cinematographer with 15 years editing experience under his belt, Adam’s 2017 short was nominated for Student Widescreen Film of the Year and Best Drama at the Southern Royal Television Awards. He was also awarded runner up prize for the 2018 Bill Vinten Guild of Television Cameras University Award for his cinematography skills on The Fence, which has also since gone viral on Youtube, clocking up nearly 2 million views. He works across all strands here at Signal.

Sophie Broadgate

Sophie Broadgate: Project Assistant / Editor

A Manchester-based filmmaker whose work spans across Narrative, Documentary and Art Film. She has seen her work screen at BFI Flare, Queer Lisboa and Palace International film festival. As a writer/director, Sophie is currently developing a slate of short films with the aim of moving into features. The Rainy Day Video and her own production company, Pikaia Films. She is a passionate advocate of Queer rights & is also fluent in French. 

May Davies

May Davies: Project Executive / Fundraiser

Originally a Project Manager here, May is now often found as a project executive and funding bid writer for many of the programmes here at Signal, working from her base in London. Primarily May is an art director and production designer for a variety of acclaimed award-winning films (Swallows and Amazons, Mea Culpa, Calibre) and tv series (People Just Do Nothin’, The Importance of Being Oscar). She is a BAFTA crew mentor who regularly supports students at the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts. 

Robbie Gallagher: Graphic & Web Design